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  • Libby Clapham

Baby led breast feeding

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

If you are struggling with breast feeding this could be why!

For years we have been taught to breast feed in a position which is frankly, more suitable to bottle feeding. Why? probably because we "forgot" (as with so much else about giving birth) our instinctive knowledge.

For example mothers are often taught to support the back of the baby's head and guide it upward towards the breast, with phrases like nose to nipple and chin to chest... but try swallowing with your chin on your chest!

Newborn babies have a reflex left over from birth whereby they push their head back when pressure is applied to the back of the head - exactly the reverse of what they need to be doing to breast feed.

What we are re-discovering is that babies have a natural instinct to breast feed (just like every other newly born mammal) and left to their own devices they will make a much better job of getting latched on to the breast correctly and comfortably for the mother - but we need to allow them to do this. It's being called "baby led breast feeding"....

For those first six weeks or so when your baby's neck is still rather weak and wobbly and generally uncoordinated it helps if you can lean back a little and put your baby face down on you either lying parallel to your body or diagonally across either your tummy so their head is below or just level with your breasts or just above your breasts. Then after a while the baby will probably start to head butt and wriggle down into position. It's much easier for him/her to lift their head up and plonk it down in a good position on your breast with the nipple well positioned in their mouth than if you lean forward and the baby has to, in effect, reach up against gravity.

Watch this video to see how it's done just after birth:

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