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Breast crawl by a newborn - 10 wonderful facts

All you need to know about a breast crawl

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : March 3, 2014 4:29 PM IST

breast crawlDid you know that newborns can find their first feed on their own with minimal assistance? If you don't then probably you aren't aware of the wonderful natural phenomenon called the breast crawl.

What is a breast crawl?

When a newborn baby is placed on the mother's chest right after the birth, she can find the mother's breast on her own, to take her first feed. Babies are most alert and responsive right after the birth. This natural ability to find the mother's breast and satisfy self is termed as a breast crawl.

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  • A breast crawl helps in successful breastfeeding, better bonding between the mother and baby, early expulsion of the placenta and reduced risk of bleeding after delivery. (Read: Tips for successful breastfeeding.)
  • The breast crawl is the first skin-to-skin contact the baby has with the mother right after the birth. The baby is placed face down on the mother's bare chest, between the breasts and both are covered with a thin sheet to rejoice this personal moment of first contact.
  • After the birth when the baby has sent out her first cry and breathed wellthe whole body of the baby is cleaned with a cloth, except the hands. With the traces of the amniotic fluid still on her arms she is placed on the mother's breast. (Read: Why is it important for babies to cry.)
  • Breast odor acts as a strong stimulus for the baby to reach the nipple. The smell mimics the odor of the amniotic fluid which was purposefully left on the baby's hand. Reaching out for the nipple indicates that the baby's sense of smell is well developed.
  • Nipple massage by the baby's hand releases a hormone called oxytocin in mothers which further helps in contraction of the uterus, expulsion of the placenta and also prevents anemia in mothers.
  • A breast crawl indicates that the baby's shoulder, neck and hip muscles are aptly developed to help her move.
  • Since she is most alert and responsive, a breast crawl in a way gives her senses a jolt.
  • When put on the breast the baby would raise her head, open her mouth wide open to take her feed and start suckling. Once she starts feeding on her own you know that she is latched on well and this will lead to a hurdle free breastfeeding later on. (Read: All your breastfeeding queries answered here.)
  • Once the skin to skin contact is established the baby is allowed to be latched on until she finishes her first feed. Some babies finish within minutes while for some it may take a little longer.
  • Any mother who has birthed a healthy baby can experience this phenomenon. But a C-section or other emergency where the baby is separated from the mother soon after the delivery can hamper this process. Do not expect your baby to be as responsive when you are united with your baby after a short span post delivery. Nevertheless nothing stops you from bonding and caring for your newborn. (Read: Do you really need a C-section?)

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