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Breast Crawl ~ Intuitive Breastfeeding Behavior After Birth

Every newborn, when placed on their mother's abdomen, has the ability to find the breast on their own and to decide when to take the first feed. Allow baby 30-60 minutes to find breast and attach. (1)


- UNICEF, WHO and WABA strongly recommend initiating breastfeeding within 1/2 hour of birth. (1)

- Early initiation prevents 16% of neonatal deaths if all infants were breastfed from day 1 and 22% if breastfeeding were started within the first hour after birth. (3)

- The smell of the chemicals on the nipple is similar to the smell of amniotic fluid. This causes the baby to start salivating. (1)

- Prevents future infections by accumulating healthy bacteria and allowing it to colonize skin and intestines. (1)

- Initiates bonding process between baby and mother. (1)

- A baby's kick stimulates the mother's womb to contract, which helps expel the placenta and reduce bleeding. (1)

- Increases skin to skin contact which helps maintain baby's temperature, facilitates in metabolic adaptations and release of oxytocin by mother and improves immediate and long-term breastfeeding success. (1)

- WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months; after which local, nutritious foods should be introduced while breastfeeding continues for 2 or more years. Follow-up formula is unnecessary and not suitable as a substitute for breast milk. (1)



DO use drugs judiciously (1)

DON'T wash/wipe breast before feeding (1)

DO raise head on pillow to facilitate visual contact with baby (1)

DON'T leave labor room until completion of first breastfeed (1)


DO abstain from nasal suction if crying well (1)

DON'T clean baby's hands (1)

DO delay weighing, measuring and dressing until after first breastfeed (2)

DON'T bathe baby until 24 hours after birth (1)

DO keep skin-to-skin contact until completion of first breastfeed (1)


1. World Alliance Breastfeeding Action. Initiation of Breastfeeding by Breast Crawl. Breast Crawl. 2014.

2. Klaus M, Klaus P. Acad. of Breastfeeding Med. Maternity Care Re-Evaluated. Breastfeeding Medicine. 2010;5(1):3-8

3. KM E, C Z, Quigley. Delayed breastfeeding initiation increases risk of neonatal mortality. Pediatrics. 2006;2(117).

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