What is the breast crawl, and why it is important
The breast crawl is when a newborn baby is placed directly on the mom’s tummy and allowed to crawl on their own up to the breast and then latch on. It’s amazing to see.
That first hour after a baby is born is a really special time. Hormones from mom and from the placenta
prepare the baby to meet the parents for the first time. They are wide eyed, alert and quiet; a state of consciousness in babies often referred to as Quiet Conscious. This is an
ideal state for learning. The baby is taking it all in; hearing and remembering mom’s voice and dad’s voice too if dad has been present and interactive during the pregnancy. It’s a
special period of settling in together.
Usually about 20 minutes after birth, babies have an instinct to head north and discover what’s there. However, the baby won’t feed if it isn’t ready or too tired or too groggy from drugs that mom has taken during labour. Narcotic medication either injected or used as agents in epidurals given to the mother during labor can transfer via the placenta to the infant and cause difficulty for the infant to latch on. This is the reason why many doctors will shy away from morphine or Demerol close to baby’s birth. They are more likely to use nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, which does not impact the infant in anyway after birth.
Current research is indicating that allowing the baby to initiate the crawl to the breast and latching on by themselves is an important developmental activity for baby. There is a set of behaviors starting from baby being placed on tummy to getting the nipple in their mouth. Each behavior leads to the next. It allows the baby to be ready to take in the nipple when the sequence is allowed to play out.
In addition, there is a wealth of benefits for both mom and baby. Baby’s benefit by the warmth and comfort of being next to their mothers. They cry less and the body temperature is more safely regulated by the mother’s body. In addition, their metabolic rate is healthier and the quality of their latch better. For moms, there is the advantage of breastfeeding starting at a good time to help release the placenta. Placentas generally release between 20 and 60 minutes after baby’s birth. Finally the best benefit of all, bonding! This skin-to-skin, no rushing, calm initiation into breastfeeding deepens their bond.
There is a wealth of information of this topic at the website www.breastcrawl.org.; including a review of all the scientific research that has been done on this topic.
The same process of letting the baby manoeuvre its way to the breast is often referred to as baby led latching. This form of breastfeeding initiation allows for the baby instincts to kick in and helps to make the latching on process easier for both mom and baby.
Canadian breastfeeding expert, Teresa Pitman, wrote a great article on this topic, entitled Baby-Led Latch; how to awaken your baby’s breastfeed instincts. I highly recommend reading it before your baby is born. The excerpt is below.
What if babies were born knowing how to breastfeed? While that’s a new idea to most of us, it does make sense. Other newborn mammals know how to find and attach to their mother’s nipples, following inborn instincts in response to physical cues they receive from contact with the mother’s body.
Paediatrician Christina Smillie has found that human babies do, in fact, have quite remarkable abilities when it comes to breastfeeding.
“Baby’s instincts to look for and latch on to the breast involve a sequence of behaviours, where one behaviour leads to the next.”
She says that sometimes our attempts to help babies latch can actually interfere, by jumping the queue as it were. “When we start with the baby’s mouth at the nipple, we are skipping a lot of the early part of the sequence, which sets the stage and helps the baby organize his behaviour,” she explains. Of course, many babies do latch when put to the breast, and once a baby has latched several times, there is no need to follow the whole sequence. But for many babies who are learning to latch, Smillie says, “it is helpful to engage the full sequence.” CONTINUE READING
I also found this article about the 7 Natural Laws of Breastfeeding. It’s got really good information and again focuses on how to support the natural nursing instincts of baby and mom.
THE “NATURAL LAWS” OF BREASTFEEDING
Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC
Today, most new mothers breastfeed their babies. But women often find breastfeeding more challenging than they expected. Mothers may experience sore nipples, engorgement, or low milk supply. Because of these challenges, many mothers quit breastfeeding in the first few days or weeks.
In 2003, a little more than 70% of American mothers began breastfeeding. But by three months, only 50% were breastfeeding and by six months this number dropped to 36%. Why do women give up on breastfeeding despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to breastfeed for at least one year? Often times, it is because women don’t know how to work with their inborn abilities; what we’ve called the “natural laws” of breastfeeding. Based on the latest research, the natural laws can help you sort through conflicting breastfeeding advice and meet your breastfeeding goals.