The Breast Crawl: Our First Movements Outside The Womb

Watching a baby do the Breast Crawl is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. It is nature at its best!

In the previous post you got a glorious overview of the Baby’s 9 Instinctive Stages. In this post we will dive into two of my favorite domains of study and the human experience—movement and sensation. We’ll begin to break it down so that you get a sense of the depth of brilliance that is behind this incredibly natural and insanely beautiful act.

The Newborn...

The newborn may appear helpless, but displays an impressive and purposeful motor activity which, without maternal assistance, brings the baby to the nipple.

-Michelson et al 1996 (1)

The Basics & The Beautiful

Most babies are born with the instincts to do Breast Crawl Movements.  As a re-cap, in this series we are exploring the breast crawl movements in newborns who are placed on mother’s abdomen just after birth, and slowly “crawl” up until they find the breast, then they latch on by themselves and start suckling.

Research has shown that 70-100% of babies successfully complete the Breast Crawl to take their first feed immediately after birth. The few who do not complete it alone achieve it with some assistance. However, babies who are separated from their mothers in the hour after birth do not always do this when reunited— especially if bathed. Babies whose mothers were medicated during labor are also less likely to do the Breast Crawl. So basically, unmedicated, non-separated babies who are healthy are likely to do the Breast Crawl within an hour after birth. (2-6)

If you think about it, it makes sense that we would be born ready to meet our most basic needs. At this phase those needs are food and ensuring that we have someone to keep us warm and safe. All animals are born with some level of readiness to survive. In the end we are an animal, the human animal, and we, too, need some level of readiness to survive. (7)

But How?

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From Trail Troubles to Happy Hiking

A few weeks ago I went on a relatively short and easy hike in the woods, a trail I had been on before. It led to a beautiful watering hole where a stream became a waterfall, ultimately flowing into a large pool for swimming before continuing onward. The trail was quite wide and did not have many obstructions to deal with; it was also relatively flat.

Along I plodded, anxious to reach the water to cool off as it was an exceptionally hot and muggy day.  Half way there and my feet and back were already tiring. By the time I reached all of the action, which was only a mile in, my feet had moved past tiring to aching.

Ahhhhh…..and there it was, like an oasis in a desert.

Of course there was no way I was going to take my shoes off. I had put on my best pair of low hiking shoes–designed for protection and support (i.e. thick soles and rigid). So why would I shed that protection for a barefoot walk in the water and risk a fall?

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Let’s Begin With The Breast Crawl

Why begin with the Breast Crawl?

Why begin? Because the Breast Crawl is freaking incredible! Plus, it is a beautiful process that is rich in both sensory and movement experiences for a wee one becoming acquainted with life just this side of the womb.

In fact, it is so incredible that I am going to dedicate THREE blog posts to the Breast Crawl goodness. If you already know what the Breast Crawl is, then you already know how awesome it is and you are probably excited to read on and see what a somatic fanatic has to say about the subject. If you don’t know what the Breast Crawl is, then prepare to have your mind BLOWN with how amazing we human animals are.

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{Poem} Love after Love, by Derek Walcott

I first read, and re-read, this poem in John Kabat-Zinn’s book Coming To Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and The World Through Mindfulness. Reading this poem arouses a sensorial image of a curious and loving touch that begins from within and that moves me beyond my flesh and in a flash connects me with all of life.
It seemed to capture the essence of both my personal practice and my work in the world—the soul touching beauty of learning to love again the stranger who was your self.

Feldenkrais Tweet  love again the stranger who was your self.

Love after Love
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,and say, sit here. Eat. Read more