A stunning photo, taken by Ludy Siqueira of Senhoritas Fotografia, depicts a new mother tenderly licking her newborn’s face.
The photo has caused quite some confusion.
We shared once before how Lee Dugatin explained there is “a combination of reasons” why mammals do this to their newborns. But not usually humans.
“One would be health-related — removing any nasty creatures on the surface of the skin, such as bacteria, viruses, that sort of thing,” Dugatkin told HowStuffWorks.
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He also said it may be a way of the mother recognising and bonding with her baby.
“It may be the start of a chemical recognition system between mothers and offspring. Licking is one way to get that sorted out. There are all sorts of bonding behaviours that go on between mother and offspring,” Dugatkin said.
Generally not something you witness after the birth of a human baby.
A major reason may be that humans no longer need to. “There hasn’t been [evolutionary] selection for licking your offspring. We can clean without licking,” says Lee Dugatkin, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Louisvill Humans. We do have hands!
“My guess is that we have so many other ways to get the benefits and information associated with licking,” he says. “Visual and tactile senses in humans are very strong,” and so selection might be weaker for a licking behavior. “We rely so heavily on … more sophisticated cognitive behavior. My guess is that licking is not as useful,” he says.
“I certainly have never seen anyone do it in 35 years [of midwifery],” Andrea Quanchi of Melbourne’s My Midwives told Kidspot.
“I mean it’s very normal for parents and mothers to be affectionate at birth, and to feel overwhelmed, but I have never seen anyone lick their baby.”
Not that there is anything wrong with it!
“If you think about it, there’s not much difference between kissing and licking,” she said.
“And depending on the situation, there’s nothing wrong with cleaning your baby, especially people who don’t have access to clean water.
“But really, most people in this country do have access to those kind of facilities so I wouldn’t view it as a necessity.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, it’s not a dangerous practice, but I’ve not seen anyone who wanted to do it.”
Why you should rub in vernix, not scrub it off
The vernix acts like a waterproof barrier on your baby’s skin, protecting it from the drying effects of months of submersion in amniotic fluid. In addition, scientists now believe that it may also have antibacterial and cleansing properties.
Research has shown that the smell of vernix can trigger the “love” hormone in the parent of a newborn.
Did you have the urge to lick your baby after birth?
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