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The Birth Phenomenon Many Moms Don't Know About

Photograph by Twenty20

Did you know that newborn babies can actually crawl to their mother's breast and nurse all on their own within an hour of being born? It's called the breast crawl. Sounds pretty unbelievable, right? One look at this video, and you'll turn into a believer.

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You can clearly see the baby use her limited vision and motor skills to find the nipple and eventually latch on. The phenomenon is especially beneficial for moms who want to breastfeed but are not sure of how to do so properly.

According to Breastcrawl.org, the "breast crawl" was first coined back in 1987.

"The breast crawl is associated with a variety of sensory, central, motor and neuroendocrine components, all directly or indirectly helping the baby to move and facilitate her survival in the new world," explains Breastcrawl.org.

And as explained in the video, sense of smell drives the baby toward the nipple. The smell of the chemicals on the nipple is similar to the chemicals in the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby in the womb.

I'll admit that when I first heard about the breast crawl, I wasn't a believer. How could a barely hour-old infant be strong enough to find mom's nipple?

It seemed impossible to me because I remember how difficult it was for my daughter to latch on at first. Although the initial breastfeeding session was a bit easier with her little brother, I still couldn't imagine that he'd be able to find my nipple and latch on all on his own.

After a bit of research, I found out that not all babies are able to conquer this task. A few studies were conducted to track how many babies successfully finished the breast crawl.

In 1987, 20 out of 21 babies successfully completed their journey to the nipple, with one needing assistance latching on. In 1990 all 17 babies found the nipple. However, the success rate dropped in the following years with a 25 out of 30 success rate in 1994 and 22 out of 31 accomplishing the deed in 1996. In both years 5 and 8 babies respectively reached the nipple, but needed help to attach.

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I've spoken with a few moms online who swear by the breast crawl, saying there are many advantages to breastfeeding within the first hour, including lower mortality rates in infants by 22 percent. The breast crawl also increases the bonding experience between mother and baby. (Though whether your baby crawls to your breast and latches on within the first hour or not, there is still plenty of time to bond with your bundle of joy!)

My husband and I are still debating on Baby No. 3. But if we do welcome another child to our family, I'm willing to give the breast crawl a shot!

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