What Happens to Breastfeeding When Mothers Lie Back?

Clinical Applications of Biological Nurturing

Suzanne Colson
Clinical Lactation 2010 1(1):11-14


Human neonates are born with an innate ability to find the breast, latch and feed. Unfortunately, some of these very reflexes can also hinder babies’ efforts to breastfeed depending on the mother’s posture. This article provides a brief overview on the mechanisms of biological nurturing (BN) and describes how practitioners can help mothers trigger innate feeding mechanisms so that they do not become barriers to breastfeeding.

From a survival standpoint, it makes evolutionary sense that neonates be born with a number of simple, innate movements enabling them to find the food source, latch on and feed. With the 20th century rise of bottle–feeding, however, we lost that sense of babies’ ability to find the breast. More concerning are subtle ways bottle feeding norms still influence advice breastfeeding mothers receive. The current mainstream approach is that mothers need to sit upright to latch their babies (UNICEF UK et al., 2008). Inherent in this approach is that mothers must counteract gravity by applying pressure along the baby’s back.

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