Abstract. Birth is more than just the physical beginning of a new life — it is also the start of the psychosocial development of the newborn infant together with its family. Immediately after delivery parents and infants can start to exchange signals that maybe are of major importance for this development. The early post partum period has been regarded to have great potentials and especially the mother has been regarded to play a very powerful role, whereas the infant's contribution has been accorded little discussion. The individual reactive capacity of the newborn baby and its influence on the environment can be illustrated in a number of ways. In recent years studies of fetal movements have been made by means of ultra sound registration and it has been discussed whether these are precursors of later behavior in the neonate-infant. The transition at birth can be considered either to be continuous or discontinuous, the outcome of this discussion has great bearing on the importance of early neonate-environment interactions.
Short and long term outcome of different routine care procedures around the time of delivery and transition are controversial subjects. Although several studies support the importance of early post delivery interaction, other studies do not seem to find correlations between early experiences and later developmental outcome measurements. In this paper several of these aspects will be discussed, examples from the literature given and possible clinical applications suggested, as well as their impact on the care of healthy and sick newborns and their families.