Exogestation: the first nine months of the baby

The nine months of pregnancy (endogestation) bring the baby to a physical development just sufficient for his entry into the world. A pregnancy longer than 9 months would have allowed the child to be more developed from a cognitive and motor point of view but the dimensions reached by the child would not have been compatible with those of the birth canal.

This adaptation (anticipation of birth) has an important consequence: once a newborn is born, it is absolutely not self-sufficient and completely depends on its parents for its survival.
Therefore, the 9-month period following the birth of the baby represents a continuity of development that began in the uterus, and is called exogestation, i.e. gestation outside the uterus.

We asked Dr. Stefania Del Duca, Coordinator of the Midwives of Humanitas San Pio X in Milan , how this important phase should best be lived.

Exogestation, explains Stefania del Duca, are the 9 months in which mother and child learn to know each other and grow together . These are the most dynamic 9 months of motherhood. In this period of time, which is actually short, the child evolves in an extraordinary way.

From a child always lying on his stomach who is unable even to scratch his nose, parents in a few months find themselves a child who knows how to crawl, who eats solid food who says his first words.
These are intense months also from the point of view of the woman’s body change.

What happens to the woman at this stage?

In the first two months postpartum, the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy condition, the bleeding stops, breastfeeding begins and the mother can finally begin to relax.
We can make a sort of comparison with the three trimesters of pregnancy.
In the postpartum period, the first three months after birth represent a sort of bodily adaptation to the new condition of a mother, the following three months are those of tranquillity, while from 6 to 9 months later the fear of separation begins.

Especially in the first three months, thanks to maternity leave, mothers can devote themselves totally to taking care of the child, around 70% of them breastfeed, a percentage that drops to around 50-60% towards weaning.

Between 6 and 9 months of the baby, many mothers stop breastfeeding and the children begin to acquire their independence, they begin to move around the house and begin to be with other people: grandparents, the babysitter, or they begin to go to nursery school .

Why do you think you stop breastfeeding so early?

Unfortunately, breastfeeding is seen as a chore, and this suffering is also found in mother-child relationships.
This is why it is important to address the topic of parenting in prenatal courses.

Why is mother-child physical contact so important?

Contact is a need and needs as such must be satisfied. There is no fear of spoiling the child. Holding a newborn in your arms, he responds to a physical need for survival.
Let’s also not forget that when babies are in their mothers’ arms for a long time, they colonize their skin and intestines faster than those who stay longer in the cot.

The higher the healthy resident bacterial flora, the less they get sick both as children and as adults.

Therefore, holding the baby in your arms and breastfeeding it not only has value from an emotional and nutritional point of view, but it also represents a prevention against important chronic diseases of adulthood.

What is the role of dads in exogestation?

Dads should have a role of accompaniment, sharing and participation. 20% of dads experience this role in a completely natural and spontaneous way: they are those dads who, in harmony with their mother, accumulate a little abdominal fat during pregnancy and produce high levels of prolactin, which is the care. They are dads who actively participate in the care of the newborn and adapt to the times of the woman and the child.

Another 20% adapt more rationally and the others remain a little out of this relationship leaving room for their partner but at the same time feeling excluded.
Finally, a good part of men find it difficult to fit into this mother-child relationship and often the woman leaves the child early just to get closer to her partner.

Dr. del Duca, what advice would you give to mothers and fathers?

The more mothers tend to see these postpartum months as a gift for themselves and their children, the happier they will be, the likelihood of postpartum depression will decrease, and the likelihood of conflicts with their child and their partner will decrease.
Dads need to be an integral part of it all, and women need to invite them to be a part of it.

Exogestation should have this motion as a general rule:
“Let’s get out of time and give ourselves some time”, to live together in order to grow together.

Children grow up quickly, they will go to kindergarten, to school, and that time will never go back but it is in this initial phase of their life that the foundations of their existence as adults are laid.

Many studies have been collected which demonstrate that healthy adults have had a healthy initial containment, have had a healthy approach with their parents: physical and emotional. We learn to let go, to be with children and to pamper them.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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