Newborn Instincts

The newborn infant has instincts and reflexes that, if appropriately stimulated, will lead him to latch and suckle at the breast with minimal effort.  The mother also has instinctive responses to her infant’s reflex behaviors.  A newborn infant, when placed on mother’s bare chest, can even move to the breast, latch on and begin to suckle.  Klaus (1998)  A study that was designed to assess infant feeding reflexes, suggests that the initiation of breastfeeding is instinctive in both mother and infant.  According to the results of this study, mothers do not need to be taught to breastfeed and further, teaching may interfere with the instinctive behaviors which can help mother and infant to achieve an effective latch. Colson, Meek and Hawdon (2008)

Newborn infants are abdominal feeders and respond best to a position in which mother reclines and infant is placed upright, against mother’s chest.  This position, referred to as biological nurturing, stimulates primitive neonatal reflexes (and instinctive responses from mother) that support latching and feeding behaviors.  Infants who latch on to the breast, while in this position, naturally achieve an asymmetrical latch (more areola showing at the upper lip than the lower) which is believed by many experienced clinicians, to be most conducive to effective milk transfer.  It was determined that infants who are fed by a mother who is in a more upright position, such as in a cradle hold, demonstrate less effective reflex behaviors that may even interfere with managing an effective latch.  Colson et al. (2008)

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© Laura Spitzfaden 2010

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