In October, Nils and Jill Bergman were invited to present at the LLL conference in Johannesburg. The theme of the conference was “Breastfeeding : bringing people together.”

At this meeting, they presented for the first time the complete ‘manifesto’ on the FIRST 1000 MINUTES of NINO. This is the neuroscience summary of the needs of the baby at birth. Nils described the neuroscience under 10 principles. The scientific summary is the importance of protecting oxytocin production in the 1000 minutes before birth (with the doula’s help) and the 1000 minutes that follow birth (with the Kangaroula’s help). The science is that oxytocin is the hormone that makes labour, breastfeeding and bonding better and the key to NINO is avoiding separation at birth. The ‘enemy’ of oxytocin is cortisol, which causes stress in the newborn and destabilises them.

Zero separation of mum and baby is often not what the real world looks like in our private as well as the public hospitals in South Africa, and also internationally. Jill described how it can happen in the local South African context in practical ways for people to apply. Practically the mother and newborn should not be left alone in the beginning which is where the doula function of supporting the mother in labour changes to a kangaroula function of supporting mother and baby togetherness.  This meets the baby’s biological expectations so the newborn stabilises much faster on the mother and can start to crawl to the breast and start to suckle. When the start to life is the best it can be, then breastfeeding is easy, the start of a wonderful bond between mother and baby.

The principles of the first 1000 minutes is for EVERY baby not just for prematures. Kangaroo Mother Care used to be seen as only for premature babies. The science behind skin-to-skin contact is all about natural birth.

Prematures need biologically normal births EVEN MORE to stabilise but with the addition of technology where needed.

It was wonderful to meet many old friends as Nils has been speaking at LLL meetings in South Africa since 1996!

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