The breast crawl
Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally – or does it? Can a newborn really find and latch onto the breast himself?
The day I held the phone, listening to my sister sobbing so much that she could not speak, I felt helpless. I so wished that I could have reached out and hugged her while she cried, but thousands of kilometers separated us.

All I could do was make soft reassuring noises as she cried, and let her calm down a little, just acknowledging how hard it can be to be a new mom. Breastfeeding was not going well, I could hear my 3-day-old nephew screaming in the background as my overwhelmed brother-in-law tried to calm him, while I consoled my sister.

Slowly, we began to speak through some ideas and things that she might find helpful. My heart literally ached for her as she said: ‘My baby is hungry and I can't give him what he needs...’ Her sense of failure
was tangible and real. It sounded like he was latching wrong. They had received very little breast feeding help in the hospital and now he seemed to have learnt the wrong way to latch. We decided she would cup and spoon feed him a tiny bit of formula as he was really hungry, and they were just both SO upset.

I gave some tips about checking correct latch when they were both calmer, and reassured her that while it is not supposed to hurt all the time, during a feed it can hurt a lot in the beginning.

I asked a friend in the UK, who is a La Leche League leader, if she would mind giving my sister a ring. Having breastfed 2 kids myself, and helped a few women as a midwife, I had offered what support I could, but being so far limited what I could do. My angel friend K, phoned my sister and suggested that she tried the breastfeeding crawl. I had not even thought of this, as it is only something I have seen on YouTube with newborn babies, straight after birth.

K got my sister to lie down with her son on top of her, lengthways, and then he had to lift his head and almost bob and weave and really open his mouth so that he could get a proper latch. In this position there was no way that he could feed, until he had a proper latch. And just like that, after a few attempts and a little frustration-motivation, my new nephew latched correctly for the first time since he was born, and she could feed him properly.

She did this for a few days and slowly, as he re-learned how to latch by opening his mouth and not just trying to suck on the nipple, she started sitting up and holding him in her arms.

I am convinced that the breastfeeding crawl saved their breastfeeding relationship, as she was so close to giving up. This is a technique we need to share and tell other moms about, especially those that are struggling. If you are an expectant mother, file it away in the memory banks, as something to try when you have your baby. If you might come in contact with a breastfeeding mother who is struggling - watch the technique and think about suggesting it. I know I am going to tell all the new moms that I come into contact with, and will try it if I have more children.

Is the breastfeeding crawl a practical suggestion for new moms to try?

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