An Introduction to Biological Nurturing: New Angles on Breastfeeding
by Suzanne Colson

[2010, Texas: Hale Pub.; 135 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 101, Spring 2012, © 2012, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Nancy Halseide.]

Biological Nurturing is an approach to breastfeeding that gives the priority to maternal comfort. An expert on the subject, author Suzanne Colson has a history of experience behind her including working at Pithiviers State Hospital in France—a pioneering birth center where she worked alongside Dr. Michel Odent, a hero in the natural childbirth world.

Biological Nurturing, or BN for short, takes on a new twist from the current trend in breastfeeding by assuming that both “nature” and “nurture” play significant roles in the process; the popular ideas of late have swung only towards the “nurture” aspect. Colson works from the supposition that mothers do not lack breastfeeding instincts, but they also benefit from a little direction. It is both a learned and innate activity.

So does BN look different from how we have known breastfeeding to be in recent years? Yes, somewhat. Colson explains that in BN, instead of being bolt upright in a chair or in a side-lying position in bed, the mother semi-reclines while putting her baby on top of her abdomen so that the entire front part of the baby’s body is touching his mother’s maternal contours. When mothers are not taught a specific method of breastfeeding, they tend to naturally assume this sloping posture.

In BN, mothers and babies receive benefits from the relaxed position. The book describes how this semi-reclined posture supports the mother’s body in such a way that eye-to-eye contact is made easier without putting strain on the mother’s neck, and her hands are free to caress and stroke her baby while he feeds. On the other hand, the fixed systems of lactation that mothers have been taught in the last three decades result in “tension laden and unbalanced maternal sitting postures” where the mother’s comfort is sacrificed in order to achieve a correct latch. The full frontal position is healthy for the baby because it promotes the release of motor reflex responses through the “body brushing” that mom and baby experience.

Colson’s book is sure to become a standard guide for doctors, midwives and lactation consultants who are interested in what works in the world of breastfeeding. Mothers will also be delighted to read this new approach that takes their comfort into consideration.

Reviewer Nancy Halseide is the managing editor for Midwifery Today. She is also a childbirth educator and co-owner of Eugene Birth Education.

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