Sunday, March 8, 2009

the wisdom of babies

I was at the Douglas College 14th annual breastfeeding education day this weekend. The main topic: Baby-led breastfeeding. It was such an interesting day, looking at how our babies are naturally born with the instinct to breastfeed. Many people don't know that babies are naturally born with the ability to self-latch. If given the opportunity to allow mum and baby to be skin to skin after birth and even beyond, babies will actually crawl, scoot or maneuver themselves to the breast, all on their own.

Now, I had learned this in my training years ago, but it was always taught as an exception, like winning the breastfeeding lottery if your baby could do it. What the speaker was saying is that all babies can do it if given the opportunity. The key...patience. So many times mothers and babies are hurried right after birth to latch. Although our intentions are positive, we want to see mum and baby doing well, in that moment when health care providers (doulas included) position baby, position mum and put baby to the breast, we are already telling mothers that they don't know what they are doing and neither do their babies. This is not setting a foundation of confidence for anyone.

The last birth I was at, instead of putting baby to the breast, I tucked mum and her newborn into bed while the midwife was suturing mum. Baby laid skin to skin with mum for about 30 minutes. During this time, baby bobbed around on her chest, moved and then self-latched. It was so beautiful to see this mum and her baby connecting without anyone interfering. Interestingly, this is only my second client that has not had any breastfeeding issues.

This weekend was such a good reminder to all of us supporting women and their families in birth, that nature knows what it is doing. If we can have the patience to allow it to unfold, then we can see the miracle of the mother/baby connection and the ancient wisdom that we all have within us that reveals itself in the birth process. Mothers and their babies are so wise. Inspiring.

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