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Yes, moms are licking their newborns right after birth

Some moms get the urge to give their newborn babies a few licks when they first hold them after birth, and there's a pretty good reason why.

By Kevin John Siazon

Yes, moms are licking their newborns right after birth

Photo: Senhoritas Fotografia via Facebook

When many folks give birth, they say that their motherly instincts kick in instantly (this doesn't always happen, so don't worry if you're not one of them). But for some, one ancestral mammalian instinct overpowers many of the others: the urge to lick their newborn.

Yep, it's a thing. This post on Facebook outlined the phenomenon, attributing the somewhat strange urge to the fact that humans are mammals and most, if not all, mammals lick their newborns clean post-birth. Now, in today's society, there may be a bit of an ick factor (probably because babies end up covered in their mother's bodily fluids during the birthing process). However, according to the post, it's a common practice in some societies, namely the Tibetan and Inuit cultures.

Think of it like this: Many moms report loving that new baby smell and will say they "want to eat their baby up." Well, according to the post, that feeling—and the smothering of kisses that usually results from it—is a remnant of this maternal licking instinct that helped mammalian moms bond with their offspring and keep them safe from predators, among other things. Take a look:

We think this is super interesting, but if you're pregnant and thinking the urge might hit you when the time comes, you may want to talk to your doctor beforehand in case of bacterial transfer. (Remember all those bodily fluids? We're not sure you want to be licking those up.) But if you get the urge, rest assured that you're not alone. We are mammals after all.

This article was originally published on Dec 10, 2019
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