Originally published at SQUAT! Birth Journal.
A Leboyer bath is a gentle way to welcome your newborn into the world. The technique was first described by French obstetrician Frederick Leboyer in his book “Birth Without Violence” and used in order to ease the baby into the world.
Leboyer believed that the crying and dramatic body tension we have come to see as normal, even desired, is not normal or healthy in a newborn and is a sign of severe birth trauma.
A traumatic birth leaves a lasting impression on an infant's mind, setting the tone for future experiences.
Even a peaceful birth will leave your baby somewhat dazzled - imagine the physical and emotional turmoil they have just gone through! This makes the Leboyer bath a wonderful welcome into the world for any baby.
The Leboyer bath is generally taken about an hour after birth (or any time when it is possible) in order to reintroduce the baby into a watery environment, as a reminder of the womb, but it can take place at any time during the first three days postpartum when the mother feels ready for it. Mother and baby are to be immersed into a warm bath together. Lights need to be dimmed and the room should be comfortably warm.
Mothers will need some assistance, so it is a good idea to have someone around to lay out some towels and clothes, and hand the baby to the mother after she has gotten into the bath.
The bath has an immediate relaxing effect on the baby: the baby may open his eyes or even smile, fall asleep. It has been show to have positive physical effects, pinking up the baby and relaxing any muscle tension. The event will take about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the baby's reactions. (Giving a Leboyer Bath Successfully)
Unassisted Childbirth, Laura Kaplan Shanley
Birthing From Within, Pam England and Rob Hororwitz (1998)