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.
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,