Breastfeeding the laid-back way is all about embracing your baby’s natural instincts. Understand what it is and how to get the most out of it
Laid-back breastfeeding. Also known as (the slightly more formal sounding) biological nurturing. As the name suggests, it revolves around less practical input from you, and more of your baby following his instincts to find your breast.
Intrigued? Here's our guide to understanding how it works and why it could be the breastfeeding technique for you.
Why should I breastfeed the laid-back way?
Basically, it’s about removing the complexity from feeding, which will help give you that closeness with your baby and encourage his natural reflexes.
‘Babies also feed better when their chin, torso, hips and toes are touching their mother directly. This pressure stimulates their feeding reflexes,’ explains lactation consultant Lyndsey Hookway.
It’s great for newborns, but can work for any age, especially babies refusing the breast or struggling with reflux or colic.
‘And for you, laid-back feeding can prevent nipple soreness because your baby isn’t being pulled down and out by gravity,’ says Lyndsey. ‘You can focus on supporting your breast if you need to, and perhaps just lightly stroking him. Plus, because you’re semi-reclined, nursing like this reduces back and shoulder problems.’
How do you do it?
Either with skin-to-skin or wearing light clothing, find a comfortable position where you’re semi-reclined – so, not flat on your back but perhaps in an armchair or bed with lots of pillows.
Find a comfortable position where you’re semi-reclined – so, not flat on your back but perhaps in an armchair or bed with lots of pillows
‘Make sure your arms are supported at the sides so your baby can’t slip down near your armpit,’ says Lyndsey.
Place your baby either on your tummy or between your breasts, and watch as he uses his stepping reflex to climb up you.
‘His head bobbing reflex helps him find your breast and his sense of smell leads him to the food supply,’ says Lyndsey. ‘Some people even think the dark line up your tummy and your areolae help guide your baby.'
He’ll root, use his hands to balance, tip his head back and start to lick, nuzzle and suckle. Amazing, eh?
‘Avoid harsh lighting and keep things as calm as possible,’ says Lyndsey. ‘Babies tend to squint in bright light and this can make them refuse to open their eyes.’
If you’ve had a Caesarean…
… and you’re worried about your baby pushing on your scar, hold a pillow or rolled up towel over it to protect it.
‘You baby will need to dig his feet into your body to climb and get to the breast, but if you position him away from your scar this should be perfectly possible,’ says Lyndsey.
Also try laid-back breastfeeding with your baby coming over your shoulder or diagonally across your body.
Any other laid-back breastfeeding tips?
First off, allow yourself (and your baby) plenty of time to get the hang of feeding like this, and have someone there to support you if need be.
‘Give your baby chances to sleep like this with you, then as he begins to wake you'll have him at that early stage when he’s hungry and not as fretful,’ says Lyndsey.
‘Co-bathing is great, too. With him on your tummy and between your breasts, lap warm water over his back to keep him warm, and talk quietly and soothingly. He may or may not feed, but the idea is to get him used to being near the breast. Then get out and try laid-back breastfeeding.’
Are you a fan of laid-back breastfeeding? Let us know on the comments board below.