Why Suctioning Your Newborn Is a Bad Idea

Did you know that choosing a homebirth (even an unassisted one) doesn’t necessarily stop you from adopting standard hospital practices like suctioning your newborn baby? The good news is that nobody is forcing you to use a suction bulb. And if you do your research, you’ll find that there are several good reasons not to use one.

What Suction Bulbs Really Do


Suction bulbs are commonly used at births in the United States, whether the birth takes place in a hospital or at home. However, current research actually states that the use of suction bulbs is contraindicated. According to The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, suctioning actually causes the baby to gasp or inhale deeply, which is clearly not the intention of administering physicians and midwives. Suctioning may also interfere with the initiation of breastfeeding, cause tissue trauma, and lower the baby’s heart rate.

If you hadn’t considered this before, it maybe come as a surprise to you that suctioning a baby is actually a rough invasion. The mouth of a newborn baby is extremely sensitive. In fact, it’s the body part the infant has the most control over. Not only is the mouth used to satisfy hunger and thirst, but it’s also how the infant communicates with you. You don’t necessarily need to conduct a study or hold a degree to understand why using a suction bulb would feel unpleasant or even worse to a newborn baby.

The bottom line: it’s important to realize that suctioning isn’t just unnecessary but can even be harmful to your baby.


The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (2009). “Management of Meconium at Birth”. Retrieved from http://sogc.org/guidelines/management-of-meconium-at-birth-technical-update/.

Reed, Rachel (2010). The Curse of Meconium Stained Liquor. Retrieved fromhttp://midwifethinking.com/2010/10/09/the-curse-of-meconium-stained-liquor/.

Oral Aversion in the Breastfed Neonate. Linda Killion Healow, BSN, IBCLC and Rebecca Sliter Hugh, IBCLC from Breastfeeding Abstracts, August 2000, Volume 20, Number 1, pp. 3-4. Retrieved fromhttp://www.llli.org/ba/aug00.html.