Physiologic Breastfeeding: A Contemporary Approach to Breastfeeding Initiation

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2015 Sep-Oct;60(5):546-53. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12319.


Early initiation of breastfeeding has numerous benefits for maternal-child health. Maternity care providers have been shown to play a significant role in establishing breastfeeding, yet there is limited research about clinical approaches that support breastfeeding initiation in the immediate postpartum. Traditional methods that focused on position and attachment have not demonstrated consistent, positive effects on breastfeeding outcomes. Contemporary approaches to breastfeeding initiation emphasize innate maternal and neonatal breastfeeding abilities and the importance of breastfeeding self-efficacy, dyad-centered care, and a supportive breastfeeding environment free from unnecessary interventions. Recommendations for clinical practice for physiologic breastfeeding initiation are provided.

Keywords: breastfeeding; fourth stage; lactation; physiologic birth; postpartum care; skin-to-skin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Environment
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Postnatal Care*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Self Efficacy