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With a collective 2.5 years of breastfeeding experience under my belt, I thought I had researched everything about early nursing -- until I watched this mesmerizing video.
Did you know that most healthy newborns, when placed on directly on their mothers' chests, can instinctively move to the breast and latch on all on their own? I didn't. But apparently they can! This, my friends, is known as the "breast crawl." Or, as one doctor calls it in this La Leche League International review, the "mother-baby dance."
The fascinating method of breastfeeding initiation takes place within the first hour or so after birth, and it requires virtually no assistance from you. A recent Reddit thread shared the following YouTube video by the Global Health Media Project, where the breast crawl can be seen in action. (Warning: Not suitable for work because of abundant nudity.) Seriously, check it out.
So here's the lowdown on the breast crawl: As soon as a baby is delivered, she is placed directly on her mother's bare tummy. While the newborn absorbs mom's body heat, she is dried off -- all except for her hands, that is. The amniotic fluid is left on the newborn's hands and a clean cloth is placed over her.
"The baby finds her mother's breast through her sense of smell," the narrator explains in the video. "Her hands have the scent of amniotic fluid on them and will help her find her mother's nipple, which has a similar scent. For this important reason, your baby's hands should not be dried. And, it's recommended that you do not wash your nipples before your baby breastfeeds."
From here, you can clearly see the newborns in the video smelling, feeling and reaching to pull themselves toward their mothers' breasts. All on their own, the babies find the nipple and begin feeding.
Although I've never tried the breast crawl, it just so happens that a few of my fellow our site bloggers have.
Beth Robinson:My oldest did this. They plopped her on my stomach and she magically wriggled herself up and latched on. I believe it was referred to as "the newborn crawl."
Sabrina Garibian:My lactation consultant shared a fascinating story about how her son, only an hour old, crawled from her belly all the way up to her breast to initiate breastfeeding. I didn't try it with my first, but with my second I did. And she did it. I don't know if it's instinct or reflex or if it was all in my head from the postpartum high. What I do know is that it was an incredible experience and one of the coolest things I've ever seen.
Kelly Wilbanks: I'd been a doula for four years by the time I had my own. I'd seen a lot of things, but I hadn't experienced the baby belly crawl. I was aware of it though. I found a YouTube video that was all in Spanish that showed a baby inching up it's mother's body. There's good reason there aren't many videos of this -- not because it doesn't happen, but because if it does it involves a great deal of nudity. I wanted to see if my baby would do it so I placed her on my chest between my breasts. She laid there content for a little while, but then began rolling her head back and forth and sticking out her tongue. I was laid pretty far back so she only had to roll to the side to get to my breast. The colostrum smells like amniotic fluid -so they are drawn to the familiar smell. It smells like home.
Um, now I definitely have to experience this for myself. Anyone else in?
Featured screenshot via YouTube
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.