Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why Does Laid Back Breastfeeding Work?

In continuation of our celebration of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I am trying to get the word out about Laid Back Breastfeeding.  This post will examine why it works. I have read many articles and watched many videos this month about breastfeeding.  All of them stated that breastfeeding is natural but not instinctual, I am trying to change that.  Help me spread the word!

Standard breastfeeding positions assume that babies are more coordinated than many newborns actually are.  Newborns may need to transition from the womb to the world slowly.  The laid back method of breastfeeding encourages primitive neonatal reflexes that allow the baby to get a better latch and help relax the mom too.  Instead of teaching tons of positions, exactly how to hold baby, how to rouse baby, what to look for, etc...the laid back method has very few rules.

Dr. Suzanne Colson, PhD found that when mothers leaned back during nursing and used their supported-bodies to support the baby, instead of their arms or breastfeeding pillows, babies exhibited the following characteristics:

- Nursed when they were in REM sleep (eyes closed but fluttering), especially great for newborns
- Had relaxed hands and bodies
- Opened their mouths very WIDE
- Had good head and neck control
- Had more physical contact with the mother
-Flexed their feet (which is associated with better eating- thats why you tickle babies feet to wake them up to nurse, and also why kids eat better when they have a footrest) 
- Touched the breast (which can help with "let-down" and milk supply)

And the mothers:
- Relax, sleep, touch/stroke their baby, have a free hand, have more confidence.

Although it is simple, mothers should still view the latch to make sure it is good (no pain, full cheeks, lips flanged out, no clicking sounds, more areola from the bottom of the breast than the top), enough wet and dirty diapers, and always listen for swallowing (its a very faint sound, not what you would think).
Although laid back breastfeeding works very well, especially for those having latch issues, it's not a guarantee.  If you have any concerns about how your baby is eating, get help early-on so as not to affect your milk supply. 

Check out my previous blog posts and pictures about laid back breastfeeding here.

And for those of you who did not yet have your babies:
This is also a great position to use in the delivery room!  If you delivered in a semi-reclined position (better than on your back), you can put the infant immediately on your belly or chest and wait for the baby to go through their "innate instinctual phases": cry-relax-awake-activity-rest-rooting- suckling-nursing-resting.  If you do not have the 30-60 minutes, you can just bring the baby right up to your chest and gently move things along.  If it doesn't happen, don't force it.  When the baby is returned to you (if the baby goes to the nursery) in your room, just resume this position (even if baby is sleeping) until the baby latches successfully.  At one hospital in Long Island, NY, the women wrap the flat sheet under the baby's arms and around their body for safety in case they fall asleep, and they keep the bed's guard rails up.  This can also be done is full skin-to-skin contact if you please, under your hospital gown.  Research shows  that when infants are held in skin-to-skin positions they cry less, have better blood glucose levels, better body temp, good tone and reflexes (not stiff), are calmer, and have better oxygen saturation.  But it is not necessary, if you are uncomfortable with it.   For an international-video of a breast craw, see here: Breast Crawl Video (she is flat, but it actually works better semi-reclined).

I will also direct you to the Biological nurturing website:VideoArticle, and Recipe.

Unfortunately the article does not go into detail about the biology of the primitive neonatal reflexes but if you have access to peer-reviewed journals and are so inclined, take a look at her publications 

Happy Breastfeeding Month!


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  2. I wish I'd learned about laid back breastfeeding earlier. I suffered for a month sitting upright on my stitched up bottom. I sat stick straight with a breast friend wrapped around me because that is what I thought I should do. Owie! Eventually I had enough and started kicking people off my couch so I could recline. Ahhh!

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