One of the most incredible facts about breastfeeding is that babies are born with all the skills they need to breastfeed right away.
Baby has been practicing sucking reflexes for months in utero, and is born with the instincts needed to breastfeed immediately after birth.
There are three key factors at work in the mechanics of breastfeeding, and the more you know about each one, the more prepared you’ll be to reach your breastfeeding goals.
- Attachment: When babies are born, one of their first instincts is to find and latch on to the breast. Glands in the breast produce a smell that attracts baby. During pregnancy, your nipples and areola darken, essentially becoming a visual bull’s-eye. Once baby is at the breast, they open their mouth in a wide gape, taking as much breast tissue into their mouth as they can. This creates a good seal and suction so that the nipple stays in place.
- Peristaltic Tongue Movement: Baby moves milk through the nipple by using a wave-like tongue motion called Peristaltic Tongue Movement. Starting at the tip of the tongue, a wave rolls back, moving milk from the breast and nipple into baby’s mouth.
- Swallowing: Mom’s nipple only releases milk when it is being compressed by baby’s tongue. This means that after baby gets a mouthful of milk, they are able to swallow and breathe comfortably. This allows them to establish a comfortable feeding pattern.
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