May 9th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Breast is BestResources

Early Initiation of Breastfeeding through Breast Crawl

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UNICEF, WHO, WABA and the scientific & medical communities all recommend initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth.  Evidence shows this can prevent up to 22% of all deaths among babies less than 1 month old in developing countries.  It is also known that, like other mammals, human babies can instintively initiate breastfeeding on their own (provided they are kept between mother's breasts).  This is called the "Breast Crawl".

I just stumbled upon this amazing video detailing the breast crawl of a newborn - something that has been documented to take, on average, 30-60 minutes.  This particularly speedy little girl found mom's nipple in just over 10 minutes!  Everything that is happening here is so perfectly designed by nature:  the skin-to-skin contact helps keep baby warm and initiates mother-baby bonding.  Baby's "kicking" on mother's belly stimulates the womb to contract, which helps to deliver the placenta and reduce bleeding.  The baby smells the food close by, begins salivating and starts her "trek" to mom's nipple.   I was very moved by this video. Then I sat back and wondered why I was so moved... this is nature... this is how it should be.  Best for mom.  Best for baby.  Simple.

The Breast Crawl was first documented over 20 years ago (Widström et al, 1987) however, I don't think many people have heard of it.  I hadn't until today, have you?  I would be more than happy to see widespread recommendation of the baby crawl as "the method" for initiating breastfeeding.  Drop a comment below and tell me what you think.

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Amber says:

I did something like this with my second child. Skin to skin, semi-reclined with him against my chest. He latched himself on and nursed very well. I believe it helped to avoid a lot of the difficulties that I experienced with my first child, just allowing him to do what he already knew how to do, without getting in his way. :)

I think we need to become much stronger advocates of this sort of approach, instead of the traditional line up and slam on method. I think I would find that alarming if I were a baby myself.

Posted on May 9, 2009

Wendy Armbruster Bell says:

Very eloquently stated Amber. Thank you for sharing.

Posted on May 9, 2009

Shirley says:

Yes, it incredible what babies do when they are just put skin to skin on mother's tummy at birth. Many breastfeeding counsellors are now suggesting this approach in recent years. To accomplish this, it is also important to support women in having healthy, natural and unrestricted births to get to this place though.

Posted on May 9, 2009

Wendy Armbruster Bell says:

Thanks for the comment Shirley. Oh the things I would do differently if I was to have my children again (although I had incredible birth experiences, there are still a few things I would change). It is all about education, resources and support as you mentioned.

Posted on May 9, 2009

Diane Sam says:

I love this video! Just goes to show how the whole "non-interference" approach is often the best.

Our retailer in Victoria, Eva Bild from Mothering Touch talked about this at our "Cafe Au Lait" event last year:


Posted on May 12, 2009