Mums who are having difficulty getting their little ones to breastfeed may benefit from warming up their nipples, according to a new study.
Apparently, a difference in temperature between a mother’s nipples and an infant’s lips can encourage babies to move towards the nipple.
This phenomenon is known as “mother-infant thermal identification”.
Researchers from the Policlinico Abano Terme hospital in Italy analysed 41 babies and their mothers to see if there were any factors that encouraged a newborn to breast crawl or seek out the mother’s nipple when placed on her chest.
Prior to giving birth, they measured the temperature of the mothers’ nipples and surrounding area.
During the first two days of the infant’s life, they measured nipple temperatures and the temperatures of the newborn babies’ lips.
They found that on the first two days postpartum, the babies’ lip temperatures were slightly lower than that of their foreheads and that the mothers’ nipples were warmer than the rest of the breast.
At birth, the infant can already detect the temperature difference between the nipple and the surrounding breast tissue.
The scientists concluded that this temperature difference is a form of communication to draw the baby towards the breast.
They say the temperature change acts as a guide for newborn babies to progress from birth to breastfeeding.
Researchers wrote: “These findings demonstrate, for the first time, that a temperature gradient may support mother-infant thermal identification and communication in the process known as breast crawl”.
They have identified several other sensory cues such as darkened nipples and the unique smell of the mother which also draw the newborn baby towards the breast.
Olfactory signals are another important factor in encouraging breast crawl as it has been proven that newborn babies consistently prefer move and towards the scent of their mothers’ breasts.
These findings are very interesting and certainly valuable information for mums considering breastfeeding.
Have you ever noticed this occurring mums? Let us know your thoughts.