Google+ Authentic Parenting: Breast Crawl: Another Reason to Rethink How We Birth

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Breast Crawl: Another Reason to Rethink How We Birth

Watching a baby do the Breast Crawl is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. It is nature at its best. I find it fascinating that a newborn baby, soon after birth will actually lick and suckle their own hands and then crawl from their mothers belly to chest and latch onto the breast completely unassisted.

Sadly, too many mothers and babies have missed this opportunity to witness and bond over the breast crawl because of unnecessary interventions. Washing, vitamin k drops, measurements and the like often take priorities in today’s birthing practices and although bonding is a popular buzz word in many neonatal care units, too often the most important moment of bonding is overlooked and not honored as it should.

I had a c-section with my first born and a much delayed introduction to breastfeeding so although I longed for it, there was no breast crawl. For my second and third children however I was very adamant about having a VBAC and as unassisted births as possible and had two very beautiful “breast crawls moments." Is the bond with my first child harmed because we missed the breast crawl, well no, not at all. He even breastfed for nearly two years, so what’s the big deal?

Several researchers (Christensson et al, 1995; Matthiesen et al, 2001, Klaus 1998, Klaus and Kennel 2001) have found over and over again that the breast crawl is directly related to overall breastfeeding success. It also shows that by doing the breast crawl babies are honing in on their instinct and wiring their brains with sensory and motor information vital for their survival. Here is another interesting finding:

16% of neonatal deaths could be saved if all infants were breastfed from day 1 and 22% if breastfeeding were started within the first hour after birth (Edmond et al, 2006).
Depending on where you birth you might be luckily that allowing this bonding time is already the norm, in many European countries, for example Germany, it is somewhat common to allow newborns and mamas at least two hours of bonding prior to any interventions. And most home births assisted by midwifes allow for plenty of quiet bonding time following delivery.

In the USA however, with my second child, along with fighting hard to have a VBAC I had to pretty much hold my newborn and not let go while explaining why I wasn’t going to let go until the nurses promised to let my sweet baby boy hang out on my chest and delay all the washing and measuring in favor of the breast crawl.

I am fascinated with birth, and follow the movement to change birthing practices, to bring it back to basics, promote more home, natural, midwife assisted births etc...Although birthing in a hospital can in fact save the lives of precious babies and mamas, wouldn’t it be amazing if favoring skin to skin contact immediately following birth and allowing baby to slowly process the ordeal of birth, smelling mama, entering a quiet and peaceful state of alertness to initiate the Breast Crawl and bond would be the norm and not something perceived as a kooky request from “that crunchy” type of mom?

Peace & Be Well,

Ariadne (aka Mudpiemama) has three children, she practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. She believes parents and children should try to have fun everyday and love life.



  1. Sadly, I also did not have the experience... Wish it was the norm!

  2. I missed out on this with my first also... But even if circumstances had been different and we were both physically able to do it, I hadn't heard of it then anyway. I had the wonderful experience of this amazing phenomenon after my second son was born, and despite my mother (who was present at the birth) itching to know how much he weighed, I told her it would wait til after he was done. :) definitely an experience I will have with any future babies... It was one of the best of my life. :)

  3. ex+erienced it with my daughter... amazing! I wasn't even thinking about it, it all went so fast, and there she was, on my belly making little sounds and searching the nipple with her mouth... just breathtaking! :)

  4. I love the Breast Crawl. I had a c-section with my babe and therefore no crawl but we breastfed within the hour.

    When she was a month or so old I tried it with her and she did it. It was amazing.


  5. Great post! Have shared it in my weeekly links post today:

  6. Unfortunately, they don't allow preemies to do the breast crawl... but at a year old, it is the tenderest thing ever to watch my daughter crawl to Mama as soon as she sees Mama pull her "buh-buh" out of her shirt :)

  7. Because of the medicated and forceps birth we endured, my son was too dazzled to breast crawl at first among some other complications with breastfeeding but we attempted the breast crawl at a later time to correct his latch and he nursed splendidly after that! It's never too late to allow your baby to self-latch using this reflex!


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