Category Archives: Latch

Instinctive breastfeeding position?

Take a look at these girls “breastfeeding” their dolls. They’re both holding their dolls in the way mothers hold their babies when babies self-attach (as described by Dr. Tina Smillie) — or in the “Biological Nurturing” position described by Suzanne Colson. Maybe we should be learning something from watching these girls that (almost certainly) have never been at a breastfeeding class and just hold their “babies” the way it feels right…

Note: These awesome pictures are from the La Leche League of Wisconsin Events page. LLL of WI offers great educational events every fall. I’m looking forward to hearing Marsha Walker next month. It’s not too late to register…


Positions for Breastfeeding

In my birth class the instructor taught several breastfeeding positions: “cradle hold”, “cross-cradle hold”, and “football hold”. This is still the common approach to teaching mothers about breastfeeding. However Suzanne Colson, a UK midwife, has been advocating a new and very effective approach to thinking about positioning for breastfeeding. She calls it “Biological Nurturing” and says:

Biological nurturing is more than nipple to nose or tummy to mummy, it is more than upright or sidlying postures…It is a two-person, whole body experience.

Here’s a link to her lovely “how-to” flier, “Recipe for Nurturing”.

Sit Back and Relax

You know how frustrating it is when your baby is hungry, you offer the breast, and he can’t latch on because he keeps putting his hands in the way? Well maybe it isn’t just that babies don’t know what to do with their hands — it could be that we’re holding them the wrong way. This study published last year found that when women leaned back while holding their babies facing them with their bodies in contact (they call this Biological Nurturing), babies used this hands-by-the-face movement to successfully latch.

In full-BN positioning, women instinctively elicited their infant’s primitive neonatal reflexes in a sequence that promoted effective feeding, behaviors not seen with partial or non-BN positioning. Said an untutored woman in full BN position after spontaneously assisting her baby’s efforts, “Breastfeeding is so easy. I wish more of my friends were doing it” (p. 7).

So maybe instead of focusing on the cradle-hold or the crosscradle-hold or the football-hold,  mothers should sit back, relax, and follow baby’s lead.

Another latch video

One of the Madison La Leche League Leaders, Jeannie Manthe (thanks, Jeannie!), told me about this video. It shows a mother working with her baby, following her baby’s lead to get a good latch. Like the BreastCrawl video, it shows how skilled babies are but this video also shows how mothers can help their babies. Babies have a strong instinct to breastfeed and mothers also have a strong instinct to help them. So check out this Latch Video. As a note, the mother in this video is sitting upright, like most mothers that we see breastfeeding in the USA. However recent research (by Dr. Suzanne Colson, news story) has shown that babies may be better at latch and attachment when their mother is lying down. As you can see, we still don’t know everything about how breastfeeding works but we keep learning by watching mothers and babies.

Can you believe what newborns can do?

The more we watch new babies, the more we see how amazing they are. New parents get to see this up close all day long and are usually so proud of their babies. I love the book “Your Amazing Newborn” by Marshall and Phyllis Klaus. It has great photographs of new babies interacting with parents and grandparents.

Babies are born ready to be social. They are also born ready to breastfeed. There is a video on-line that shows a baby just after birth, crawling up her mother’s chest and latching herself onto the breast for a successful breastfeeding. You can find it at this link:

I’m amazed watching this video. Have any of you watched a baby do this in person? I usually see mothers and babies when they have returned home from a hospital birth. I hope to get to see this some day. What do you think of this video? Let me know…

While I haven’t seen a baby do this after birth, I have seen lots of very young infants do a wonderful job of latching themselves at the breast when they are given access to the breast and time. Mothers can take advantage of this by spending time skin to skin with their baby and following baby’s lead in latching.