Biological Nurturing®Laid-Back or "Natural" Breastfeeding

Research By Suzanne ColsonPh.D, RM, RGN, BA, MSc 

While breastfeeding initiation rates continue to rise; early breastfeeding cessation rates at 3 through 12 months remain stagnant and well below the AAP, World Health Organization, UNICEF and Healthy People 2010 and 2020 recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding or breastmilk for the first 6 months of life, and continued breastfeeding for 12 to 24 months and beyond. 

Mothers are often encouraged to swaddle their babies 
from birth and keep them in the bedside bassinet unless they are actively feeding. This practice assumes that the continuity 
of maternal nutrition (via the placenta) ends at birth and effectively separates mothers from their newborns, even when they are in the same room. 

New research provides ample
 evidence that an approach to breastfeeding, that proponents have termed "biological nurturing®", stimulates reflexive feeding behaviors in the newborn and mother alike. These synchronized reflexes support both effective, pain-free latch and ingestion of milk". (Early Human Development, S. Colson, S. D., Meek, J. H., & Hawdon, J. M. (2008). 

When mothers and babies start off breastfeeding using biological nurturing
® and "natural" laid-back [semi-reclined] breastfeeding positions from the start, babies easily adapt to more traditional upright positions and are able to maintain a good latch and milk transfer. Mothers benefit by feeling more empowered, confident and competent. 

~ On your upper right, you see newborns breastfeeding while the mother is in a natural, laid-back or semi-reclined position. Below is the mother of a five week old using the laid-back principle but feeding her baby while comfortably sitting upright.~

So, what is biological nurturing
It is ~ 
  • Mother-baby positions and interactions that release essential hormones and instinctive feeding behaviors 
  • A method that does not have to be “taught” 
  • Mother-baby instinctive behaviors that aid latch and sustain milk transfer 
  • An aid in the early metabolic adaptation of the baby
  • Keeping the baby close. Kangaroo care or "wearing" the baby  is a type of biological nurturing 
  • More than 'just' skin-to-skin contact at the time of birth
  • Something fathers can do too 
So, what is laid-back/natural breastfeeding?   
When using laid-back or natural breastfeeding positions, mothers neither sit up-right nor do they lie on their sides or flat on their back.

Laid-back or natural breastfeeding pertains mainly to the mothers position.  To start breastfeeding, mother is semi-reclined and fully supported in a laid-back position that she finds comfortable and sustainable. Then she places her baby on top of her body so that her baby’s head is on or near her breast. In other words, the mother makes her breast available. The baby will be on his/her tummy at the same incline as the mother. In this position, a baby's innate, primitive feeding reflexes will be stimulated and assisted    by gravity. 

Biological nurturing
®/laid-back breastfeeding is a non-prescriptive, easy to do method for mothers and babies that easily evolve into breastfeeding. This has come to be called "Natural" breastfeeding. There is nothing for the mother to “learn” or remember because mothers don’t have to “attach” the baby to the breast. If given the opportunity, most babies will self attach and self attachment has been shown to work better in reducing the incidence of sore nipples.

All this can rapidly build confidence in the mother. A confident, empowered mother that finds enjoyment in breastfeeding will want to breastfeed longer  --  which will increase the long term health benefits to both mother and her baby.

Biological nurturing®/laid-back 
encourages and allows mothers and babies to do what they instinctively know how to do in comfortable, sustainable positions that enhance and promote hormonal bonding, attachment and ease of breastfeeding.  Biological nurturing®/laid-back breastfeeding introduces the concept of nurturing and enjoyment. 

Supporting mothering behaviors that increase pleasure with breastfeeding will help extend breastfeeding duration and improve long term health in both mother and baby.

In practical as well as biological terms the nutritional, developmental and emotional needs of the newborn infant are met through suckling. (McNabb and Colson, 2000) 

As early as 1954, Grantly Dick-Reed summarized maternal biological capacity to meet neonatal need. He claimed that breastfeeding satisfies neonatal needs for warmth, security and food. These claims have always made good common sense. Now, research supports these common sense findings.

Biological nurturing
®/laid-back breastfeeding is a "back to the future" strategy that builds upon previous observations and research.  Reed, 1954; Winnicott, 1964; Montagu, 1971; Pryor, 1973; Righard, 1990; Colson, 2000 and others.

Biological nurturing®/laid-back or natural breastfeeding can help parents explore more traditional nurturing styles and experience  the joys of exclusive breastfeeding from birth.                                                                                                                                      

Laid-Back/Natural Breastfeeding Pictures

Various laid-back/natural positions

Newborn self attachment with laid-back/natural 
semi-reclined position

Laid-back/natural semi-reclined breastfeeding 
works beautifully with twins!

Biological Nurturing® 


Biological Nurturing® is simply keeping your 
baby close to you. 
Dads can do this as well as Moms. 
This is often referred to as "Kangaroo" care.

Watch a video here.

Read an excellent article here.

Please see Dr Suzanne Colson’s new book:


Another excellent article can be 

Once breastfeeding is going well, 
please consider donating 
some of your precious milk 


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