Since this article came out, I have been asked many times what I think about the article and about the concept of Laid Back Breastfeeding. Most of the time it has been through a direct email or a private Facebook message. I have had a few moms post it in Facebook to me and also several moms who I have seen in a private consult inquire as to how I felt about this. So, instead of answering individually, I decided to do the next best thing – write a BLOG!
Here is the article I am referring to. Laid back breastfeeding
So, the short answer is: I absolutely love this. I wish so badly that we could get all babies to feed like this from the very beginning. I know lots of moms wind up moving towards this as they try hard to navigate the early days and nights of newborn mothering. They naturally wind up sleeping with their babies and feeding them when both laying down. They quickly realize that they can get a lot more rest and that their babies are quite relaxed and this often translates to a better feeding.
My most favorite thing to do when attending births is to just hang out on the sidelines and just watch the new baby lay on his moms chest, skin to skin, undisturbed. I love when they get to spend time together and mom gets to keep her baby nice and warm and just waiting for her baby to show hunger cues and gently find his way to the breast. With a little bit of help and support for baby and sometimes some help with breast support, lots of babies do find their own way and latch on. Sometimes it is pinchy and mom needs to be more hands on so baby can get a deeper latch.
When this happens, it is blissful! There is little for me or anyone else to do if the latch is good and it feels comfortable for mom. Reviewing normal newborn feeding behavior, hunger cues, signs of satiation, how do you do know if they get enough, normal output, weight gain, etc. Yes, lots of good info to review for the new mom. And yet, not much to do about the actual act of latching on and breastfeeding. I just become a very quiet observer
This is most successful when there have been no drugs of any kind given to mom during her labor and when there is no separate of any kind of mom and baby after the birth. The reality is that some medications do get to baby during the labor and this can affect their interest and their ability to be able to find their own way to the breast and/or to show an interest in feeding in a reasonable time period.
When this happens, it sets off a cascade of events that interrupt the normal, the natural flow of baby being born and spending time skin to skin. Babies who are taken away from their moms and weighed and wiped down and given shots and diapered and dressed and given hats and socks – this changes their natural environment and can make it a bit or a lot more difficult to follow their natural instincts. If medication has dulled their central nervous system, they are not quite themselves and their senses are somewhat dull and they may take a while until they start searching or are able to follow their natural instincts to search for food and follow the smell.
Some moms have needed additional help in order for their baby to be born vaginally. Perhaps a vacuum or forceps birth and when this happens, some babies have some bruising and are not feeling their best for quite a few hours and some for even days until the bruising or swelling goes down. The reality is that some babies just don’t latch on well initially for a myriad of reasons and some for reasons we may never understand.
What I find happens when babies do not latch on and breastfeed within a certain time period, mothers are frequently encouraged to offer their baby milk from a bottle or a cup or a spoon or a syringe. I have been with many babies who have had their first feeding this way and once they get some food and some energy and are rested, they now come to the breast knowing exactly what to do.
Their are also many reasons why some babies do not start off breastfeeding well or frequently enough. Some we may never know why and others it is pretty clear why they are struggling. Some babies are born quite early and lack the ability to achieve a good latch, others have health issues which make it difficult for them to breastfeed well initially. Some babies have an oral tie that prevents them from achieving a good latch And other babies, would actually do very well, however, their moms are offering them the nipple only, which results in very painful breastfeeding.
As an IBCLC, I find that when the early and first few days of breastfeeding are difficult, than the usual way we have moms and babies latch on, then become difficult. Try as I might, laid back breastfeeding does not work well with babies who have become use to bottles – the smell, the taste, the texture and the immediate and fast flow. Babies who have had pacifiers and bottles and nipple shields and syringes and nipple only latches, have a hard time finding their own way, when brought to the breast and given an opportunity to latch on themselves.
Many fight and argue and push away from the breast. They tend to bop on and off the nipple, flail their arms and legs, let us know they have a wonderful and perfect working set of lungs. I find that a majority of babies who can breastfeed but just got off to a hard start, will do much better with a very hands on and controlled approach to breastfeeding. Other babies, who we find out have tongue or lip tie or a high or bubble shaped palate or have torticollis or other issues…. well, they just cannot breastfeed… with controlled cross cradle hold, football hold or laid back breastfeeding. They are just not capable of doing so, or at least not without causing major nipple trauma for mom and poor milk transfer for baby.
So, while I think laid back nursing is great, I am a huge fan of working closely with mom and baby with what I call a very controlled, but loving approach to helping baby achieve a good, deep latch when the situation calls for it. One that is comfortable for mom and comfortable for baby. I find that most babies don’t mind being held nice and close and tucked into mommy….. as long as they have easy access to the breast and can get their milk, they are a very happy camper. This week alone, I worked with a number of mothers who could not put their babies to breast in such a relaxed fashion as the laid back positions – it just killed their poor nipples. Once we moved them to a more controlled latch with lots of support for baby and lots for mom, their pain was significantly reduced. I imagine that when breastfeeding becomes really easy for these moms and they are not experiencing any pain, they will gradually move to a more laid back nursing position, whether it be at night laying down or during the daytime without their pillows or perfect set up.