Monday, September 5, 2011


Photo by Patti Ramos -

"Sometimes old habits can be hard to break. When a brand new baby is born, the very first question that springs to the mind of each individual in the room tends to be, “Is the baby breathing?” Understandably, humans have come to the conclusion that “breathing” equals “healthy”. However, this is not always the case. Breathing does not always equal healthy. And, as such, especially in the case of the newborn baby, not breathing does not always equal not healthy. Fetal to newborn transition does not happen with the snap of the fingers. Instead, it is a complex process of chemical, hormonal, and physical responses that initiates the infant’s first breath (Harper 2000). Some newborns take longer to transition than others. Hearing the gurgling, spluttering, gagging sound of a brand new baby can be disconcerting to midwives, health care providers, and especially parents. It is very easy to reach for the bulb syringe or the Delee to try to suction out that fluid in an attempt to help the newborn transition faster. But this is not evidence-based midwifery. The research and studies show that not only does oro-naso- pharyngeal suctioning (with the bulb and/or Delee) not improve outcomes (Mercer 2007), it can actually be harmful to the newborn infant (Velaphi and Vidyasagar 2008)...

Breastfeeding and bonding can also be affected by oro-naso-pharyngeal suctioning. Infants whose mouths are repeatedly traumatized with a rubber bulb or plastic tube often show signs of oral aversion as the infant keeps its mouth tightly shut to protect itself from further discomfort, trauma, and/or injury (Lothian 2005)."

Evidence-based Midwifery: The Case Against Newborn Suctioning