Posted by: Admin | June 4, 2011

The Week-End Post – The Breast Crawl!

Breastfeeding is natural and instinctive. The baby is born with a sucking reflex in full working order and with a genetically programmed behaviour that enables him to latch on to the breast as soon as his body has adapted to ‘outside of the womb’ living.

In a paper called ‘Delivery Self-Attachment’ published in the Lancet in the 1990s, a Swedish researcher, Lennart Righard, MD, described the ‘breast crawl’ babies should be able to do right after birth. A newborn, fresh from the womb and placed on his mother’s naked chest, should be able to crawl up to his mother’s nipple and attach himself to the breast.

In addition to describing for the first time what a baby’s behaviour should be once put on his mother’s chest right after birth, Righard was also the first to document the different behaviours of the baby according to the different birthing situations. He linked labour medications and early mother and child separation to a sleepier baby with a weaker sucking reflex. He noticed that those babies had more trouble breastfeeding than babies who were born vaginally and whose mothers had not received labour medications. Righard did not only write about it, though. He also filmed his observations and thus allowed all the world to understand the wonderful  intricacies  of birth.

The DVD of his study is available at the following URL:

UNICEF has promoted breastfeeding at birth since its 1991 implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), which presents Ten Steps for Successful Breastfeeding (I will write about this in another post). Righard’s observations are directly reflected in the 4th step of the BFHI: ‘Initiate breastfeeding in the half hour following birth.’ The BFHI has since been implemented all over the world, with over 20, 000 hospitals, some of them in Canada, being labelled  ‘Baby-Friendly’.

Here is a short video made by UNICEF. It was filmed in India, but remember that it presents a newborn behaviour that defies geography and human culture.

Babies who are not separated from their mothers but who are placed on their mother’s chest immediately after birth and allowed to breastfeed at their own pace end up breastfeeding exclusively for a longer period of time. In addition, their mothers also encounter fewer breastfeeding difficulties.

In 2003, the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay signed a resolution stating its support for the BFHI, and since then efforts  have been made to  render our health care facilities Baby-Friendly. Naturally, as all births from Eeyou Itschee have to occur in hospitals from other regions, the BFHI practices that are linked to birth cannot be directly applied, but our mothers should be told about them and encouraged to ask for those best practices from the facilities where they give birth.

Help us make it easier for the mothers and babies by encouraging Eeyou Itschee to become Baby-Friendly!


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