Calm Birth: The Roberts Method

What is the Roberts Method Calm Birth?

Like the Lamaze Method which focuses on nurturing the delivering mother's own strength, the Roberts Method emphasizes reducing traumatic environmental factors to ensure that the fetus experience a calm birth and natural state. The Roberts Method was invented by French physician Roberts in 1955 and found widespread adoption in Europe. Most deliveries occur under the intense light of delivery rooms. When a baby is born, it is struck on the buttocks and begins crying loudly. The fetus' vernix is forcefully removed and the amniotic fluid is replaced by the air of its surroundings as it is wrapped in a towel. Though all of this takes place in a short moment, it can be harsh experience for the fetus. The Roberts Method sought to improve upon the delivery environment and allow the fetus to have calm birth and natural surroundings.

Every Newborn Cries Out of Fear


Hearing the first cries of the newborn indicate that the baby delivery has gone smoothly. Crying is an index of a healthy newborn. But we cannot make the newborn cry purely out of a desire to know whether or not it is healthy. We should see things from the newborn's perspective. The inside of the uterus is quiet and dark, whereas the delivery room is extremely bright. For the newborn, the first thing it has to do is adjust to these intense rays of light.

Next comes the severing of the umbilical cord. Up until this point, the umbilical cord was the fetus' sole source of oxygen. Suddenly, a high amount of oxygen pours into the newborn's lungs, the sensation of which is akin to a hot substance filling the chest. This is difficult for the newborn to adjust to. Then, without any time to breastfeed, the newborn is weighed on an ice-cold scale and transported to the nursery. For the entirety of this delivery process, all newborns are subjected to an irresistible level of trauma and there is nothing that they can do but cry to express their pain.

Respecting Newborn’s Human Rights

Until now, delivery methods have centered on the delivering mother and the medical team. All that has been taken into consideration has been how to reduce the delivering mother's labor pains and how to make the delivery convenient and safe for the medical team. In contrast, Dr. Roberts notes that we should learn to think about the fetus in its first moments. Every newborn baby is, like fully grown adults, in the process of developing its hearing, vision, sense of touch and emotions, therefore adults should give them their due amount of respect. To this end, Dr. Roberts offered several techniques for calming the newborn, these techniques constitute the Roberts Method.

A Little Information: Essentials of Exerting Strength during Delivery

Spread Legs apart as Much as Possible

It is essential that both knees extend away from your body. Try to point your knees downward and away from your body. If your thighs are drawn inward, your abdomen will be nearly incapable of exerting any strength and the birth canal will narrow.

Draw the Handrails towards Your Body

With elbows slightly bent, exert your abdominal and leg strength to support yourself. At the same time, grasp the handrails and draw them in the direction of your body.

Keep Your Back and Waist against the Delivery Table

If you are not using your strength correctly, there will be an empty space between your back and buttocks. Your back should be rounded and firmly pressed against the delivery table.

Exert Strength with Your Buttocks

If your hands and feet are overexerted, you will be able to focus your strength on the uterus and birth canal areas. Spread your legs wide, exert strength in your buttocks so that it feels as though it is being raised upwards.

The Roberts Method in Five Guidelines

1) Dim the Lights in the Delivery Room

Soothing, quiet music and dimmed lights lend a tranquil atmosphere to a delivery room using the Roberts Method. The music eases tense feelings in the delivering mother and the fetus. The dim lighting emulates the level of brightness in the uterus while safeguarding the fetus' sensitive eyes and maintaining a sense of calm. The Roberts Method recommends keeping the lights dimmed from the time the fetus' head is seen until the fetus' entire body can be seen.

2) Use a Low Voice in the Delivery Room

Hearing the most highly developed of the fetus' senses. Starting at months 5-6, the fetus can hear and distinguish most kinds of sounds. The fetus grows familiar with the regularity of its mother's heartbeat and the sound of blood moving through her arteries. Suddenly, it is brought into the hustle and bustle of the outside world. This transition creates a lot of stress for the fetus' hearing. Therefore, it is important for the medical personnel present in the delivery room to keep as silent as possible.

3) Allow the Newborn to Breastfeed

When the newborn has just emerged from the uterus, what it needs most of all is its mother's warmth. Without doing anything to the vernix and umbilical cord, promptly place the newborn on its mother's breast to begin breastfeeding. Not only will this calm down the newborn, but having a meal of mother's milk helps the baby through this difficult process.

4) Do Not Sever the Umbilical Cord Immediately

Let the newborn rest and a listen to its mother's voice for about 10 minutes before having Dad sever the umbilical cord. The fetus breathes through the umbilical cord while in its mother's tummy. As the process of childbirth unfolds, it gradually begins using both its lungs and the umbilical cord to breath. As the newborn grows accustomed to breathing with the lungs, blood stops circulating in the umbilical cord. This is the right moment to sever the cord. If the umbilical cord is severed too soon, there will be a moment where the newborn's brain is deprived of oxygen.

5) Adapting to Gravity

After severing the umbilical cord, immerse the newborn in a tub of water. As though giving a bath, immerse the newborn in 37˚C water for 15 minutes. Play a game where you dip the newborn's body in and out of the water. This allows the newborn to familiarize itself with the force of gravity outside of the womb.

The Roberts Method on Paper

This delivery method in human-rights-centered and aims to keep the newborn from feeling anxious or scared. The newborn is extremely unfamiliar with loud and brightly-lit environments. Though it is less convenient for the delivering mother and the medical personnel, creating a quiet, warm and calm environment for the newborn is considerably more important.

Methods to Note

1. Enduring labor pains in the delivery room. Enter the delivery room after the cervix has fully dilated.

2. Adjust the lighting in the room to protect the newborn's eyesight without impacting the effectiveness of medical personnel.

3. Newborns have sensitive hearing. Medical personnel in the delivery room should try to remain silent and only speak in hushed tones.

4. A newborn will stop crying when it’s placed on its mother's breast. After birth, the first thing a newborn wants to do is have a meal of mother’s milk and will nurse instinctually.

5. About 10 minutes after delivery, cut off circulation to the umbilical cord. Then have the father sever the umbilical cord.

6. The newborn is floated up and down. At 37˚C, the temperature of the water is close to that of the womb. Next, as the newborn has become familiar with the force of gravity on its body, bring it to the nursery.

The Roberts Method

The essence of the Roberts Method is allowing the newborn to experience the process of calm birth and happy environment. As the newborn is brought into this most gentle of surroundings, the method strives to give the newborn a wonderful first impression of the outside world. However, this delivery method is not popular in Taiwan, being more common in places like Northern Europe and England.

Sandra Henderson

Editor-in-chief at Babiology and a proud mother of four passionate about sharing pregnancy and baby growth knowledges

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