• Dr Kate Naylor

Laid Back Breastfeeding

Most new Mums coming out of hospital know about the "western" style of breastfeeding positions. These are often taught by midwives and hospital physiotherapists. Whilst these positions may be comfortable for some, many breastfeeding mothers find themselves developing sore shoulders, neck and upper back as they crane forward to see how their baby is attaching.

I was introduced to the concept of "laid back breastfeeding", incorporating "baby led attachment" in the early 2000s when I was lucky enough to see Dr Suzanne Colson (UK) and Dr Christina Smillie (USA) present their research findings. Dr Colson has a website, and you can see her work here.

Dr Smillie presented information on many breastfeeding mother-baby dyads that she had helped over the years. She showed in videos how just getting mothers to recline helped the babies to self-attach. You can read more on the excellent website of Breastfeeding USA.

The reason this seems to work is that babies like being face-down and tummy-down on their mother's chest/abdomen. Babies feel stable like this, when their pelvis is secure and pushed firmly onto their mother, whose arms are used to "scaffold" the baby and prevent him/her from rolling off. Being on their tummies enables babies to use their innate biological reflexes that help them to breastfeed, for example,

  1. "head bobbing" to find the breast

  2. "stepping" - using their feet to "climb" to the nipple

  3. "hand grasping" - their hands reach out to find the nipple

  4. "mouth gape" -babies drag their chin across the mother's breast to reach the nipple, thereby opening their mouth wider for the latch

I like to introduce this style of laid-back breastfeeding in my breastfeeding consultations. Most Mums are quite surprised at the results.

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