Thursday, October 13, 2011


Booby Traps Series: Attack of the giant bulb syringe

"...It’s not fun to be suctioned right after birth, and it can interfere with your desire to eat...

Research shows that 1) there are no demonstrated benefits to routine suctioning (randomized controlled trials have shown no difference), and 2) routine suctioning can cause breastfeeding problems.

Linda Smith cites research showing several ways in which this causes problems for breastfeeding:

Mispatterned tongue movement: “The tongue muscle group can be mispatterned by early superstimuli such as deep or repeated suctioning.”

Defensive tongue position: “Physical irritation of the posterior palate creates a reflex guarding of the airway by the tongue…This is exactly the opposite of the anterior-to-posterior tongue peristaltis needed for breastfeeding.”

Pain, possibly leading to aversion to feeding: “Suctioning a vigorous newborn (except as needed for resuscitation) can cause physical damage to the oropharynx, causing pain during feeding attempts.”

The evidence is strong enough that the American Academy of Pediatrics makes a point of discouraging suctioning in its breastfeeding policy, recommending that physicians: “avoid procedures that may interfere with breastfeeding or that may traumatize the infant, including unnecessary, excessive, and over-vigorous suctioning of the oral cavity, esophagus, and airways to avoid oropharyngeal mucosal injury that may lead to aversive feeding behavior.”

Nevertheless, suctioning healthy, vigorous newborns appears to be very common..."

Isn't it time we asked ourselves why? Who is creating these protocols? Why, if they are shown to disrupt human well-being, are they still in place?