New mums, find answers to all your breastfeeding concerns in this article!
Breastfeeding is not just an instinctive process, but one that needs practice. Read on for some expert tips.
Breastfeeding is, undoubtedly, a special experience for every new mother. It is the first decision a mother has to take after her little one is born. 1
However, many mothers get disappointed when they expect that breastfeeding will come naturally to them. It is important for every mother to understand that breastfeeding is not just an instinctive process, but one that needs practice. For successful breastfeeding, you need to know how to do it the right way. 2
Breastfeeding Initiation and Position
To get a good start at breastfeeding there are a number of things that a mother has to keep in mind. First and foremost, cuddle your baby a lot to give him maximum skin-to-skin contact. Secondly, feed your baby as and when required.1
Here are a few tips that you can follow:
- See to it that you are extremely calm at the beginning of the feeding session,
- Follow your baby’s lead and support your baby to latch on.3
- Breastfeeding can take anywhere between 5 to 40 minutes. This is why choosing a comfortable position is so essential.
- Hold your baby in a position where he/she will be relaxed and your arms and back do not hurt. Your coordination and patience come into picture while you learn to hold your baby for nursing. 4
The different positions that a mother can hold her baby in
Here are the different positions that a mother can try to hold her baby:
1. The cradle hold: The classic breastfeeding position is the ‘cradle hold’. Here you need to cradle your baby’s head while he or she is in your arms. You need to support your baby’s head in the crook of your arm. Consider sitting in a comfortable armchair with pillows on your lap to keep your baby. Your baby should be facing you and with his or her arms tucked under yours.
Mothers can prefer to use this position when their baby’s neck has become strong and when the baby is at least one month old. It has been said that for mothers who have had caesarean, experience a lot of pressure on their abdomen while in this position. This position works fine with mothers who have had vaginal delivery. 4
2. The cross over hold: The second position is the ‘cross over hold’. Here, you do not have to support your baby’s head under the crook of your hand. Hold your baby with your right hand if your baby is feeding on your left breast.
This breastfeeding position is helpful for babies who cannot latch on properly. Keep your palm behind your baby’s head to help it reach your breast for nursing.
3. The clutch hold: Another position is the ‘clutch hold’ or ‘football hold’. While breastfeeding, mothers have to tuck their little ones under their arm like a handbag or football. See to it that your baby’s head is towards you and the feet in the direction of your back. This position works well with mothers having larger breasts and for mothers of twins.
Continue reading on the next page to know about other breastfeeding positions that you can try!
4. The reclining position: The last position is the ‘reclining position’. This is used when mothers have to breastfeed while they are lying down. Here the mother has to face the baby with her body facing on one side while she is lying down so that her back and hips are in a straight line.
While in this position, make sure you tuck your bottom hand behind your head for support. This position is best used by mothers who have had caesarean and have difficulty in sitting while nursing especially at night. 4
Learning to latch
It is important to pay attention to how your breasts feel while you breastfeed. Your baby should take a mouthful of your breast tissue. You may need little practice to help your baby latch on to your nipple properly. See to it that your baby’s mouth is wide open when it touches your breasts and his/her tongue, lower lip and chin touches your breast first. Also, see to it that after a latch on, your baby’s nose is free.
Be reasonable with your expectations and keep an open mind towards mistakes. You may take at least 10 or more days to learn help your baby for a perfect latch on. Get it the way that satisfies both you and your baby.2
Achieving the perfect latch on
Here are a few steps you need to follow to get a perfect latch on:
- First, place your nipple between the upper lip and nose of your baby.
- You may then encourage your baby to open his/her mouth wide by softly touching the upper lip with your nipple.
- You can also try brushing your little one’s cheek with your nipple. This will grab your baby’s attention and will allow it to open its mouth widely and latch on properly.5
- Earlier, mothers were advised to centre their nipple in their baby’s mouth. But later it was found that the baby is able to get/draw more milk when there is greater breast tissue next to the tongue and lower jaw. This kind of an off-centre position is called asymmetric latch. 6
- Pull your baby towards yourself when he/she is searching for your breasts or rooting rather than taking your breast near your baby. This will help your baby to get a mouthful of breast tissue especially the brown region of your breasts called the areola to draw maximum milk out. You should be able to see more of the areola above your baby’s upper lip and less below the lower lip. Check for this, once your baby has latched on. This will assure that your nipple is far back into your baby’s mouth preventing any damages to your nipples due to friction.
- The tip of your baby’s tongue should be seen between his/her lower lip and your breast. 67
- Initially you may experience a little nipple discomfort while feeding your baby. If the pain is severe which does not subside over time, it means that your baby has not latched on properly.
- You need to know that when your baby is satisfied, it will come off your breast on its own. Do no try to pull your baby away from your breast. 6
Frequency and Duration:
The rule is to feed on demand. Normally a newborn will demand feeding for 8-12 times a day or every 2-3 hours. Each session may last for 20-40 minutes.
While you breastfeed, your baby may pause for some time and may later start sucking again, without you coaxing her. This is normal. If your baby sucks little and then goes off to sleep, it may indicate that your baby is not being fed properly.
New mothers may even feel discouraged while breastfeeding sessions. In this case you may take short breaks. Hold your baby between your breasts with your skin touching his or her skin. You can even sing or talk to your baby and give your baby one of your fingers to suck on while you take a break. You may start again in a little while. 1
Remember to alternate the sides of breast to ensure both sides are being used for feeding the baby. Also ensure that each side of breast is used long enough to feed the baby with fore milk as well as hind milk.
The first week of breastfeeding seems to be interminable but the truth is, it is not. Do not doubt your baby’s smartness. It’s just your patience and practice, and your baby can follow its instinct to suckle naturally.
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