The Inside Scoop: What’s Labor Like for a Baby?

As their due date approaches, many women begin to spend more and more time thinking about labor and delivery. Soon-to-be moms might think about their birth plans, how they’ll manage the pain of labor, and what it will feel like when they finally meet their baby. One thing that a lot of expectant parents don’t consider though is what the experience of labor will feel like from the baby’s perspective.


While we’ve all experienced birth as a baby ourselves, it’s impossible to remember what it felt like. For that reason, we have to rely on the expertise of scientists and doctors that work with newborns to understand what baby’s feel like as they’re being delivered.

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When labor begins, a mother’s body releases Oxytocin, commonly known as the love hormone. As Oxytocin flows through mom’s body and begins the process of labor, the baby receives these feel-good hormones and likely feels relaxed and comfortable. Most babies are head down in the weeks leading up to birth and, as their head begins to push on the cervix and help the process of dilation begin, they likely feel just a little bit of pressure.

As labor progresses and contraction begin to become stronger and longer the baby definitely feels the squeeze! Labor contractions are designed to dilate the cervix and push the baby downward so it’s likely that baby feels a little squished and moves a bit downward with each contraction.

As the baby begins to crown and make their way into the world it might look as if they’re pretty uncomfortable. In reality, though, their bones and body are made to be birthed. The bones in a baby’s skull shift (giving so many babies a cone head shape in the hours after birth) and their shoulders easily compress to fit through their mother’s birth canal.

Life inside of their mother’s womb is a dark, cozy 98.6 degrees — immediately after birth babies must quickly adjust to a much brighter and cooler world. While they may feel a little cold at first, and surprised by the brightness of the world, as soon as they are nestled skin-to-skin with one of their caretakers most babies quickly warm up and begin to feel happy and content. 

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Getting born is serious work so, after blinking around for a few minutes, nursing and cuddling, most babies take a nice long nap. If you’re lucky enough to be snuggled happily with your baby, we suggest you do the same!

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The Inside Scoop: What’s Labor Like for a Baby?

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at ... More

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