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Breastfeeding is the optimal way to nourish your baby. It is important to realize that breastfeeding is a learned skill for you both. Keep in mind that every baby is unique in his/her ability to breastfeed. Some babies have no difficulty latching onto the breast, while other babies need more support and time to master this skill. With patience, breastfeeding can be a rewarding experience for both you and your baby.

Getting Comfortable

Breastfeeding Positions

Achieving A Successful Latch

Tips To Promote Successful Breastfeeding

 

Getting Comfortable

Before you begin to breastfeed your baby, take time to ensure that you’re comfortable. Begin by choosing a nice, quiet and relaxing area in your home to breastfeed your baby.

Gather items that you may need, such as the telephone or a glass of water, so that they’re easily accessible and don’t interrupt breastfeeding. You may even want to take the phone off the hook while nursing your baby so that you are not disturbed.

Choose a comfortable position to breastfeed that allows you to hold your baby close to the breast in a well-supported manner without straining your muscles. Some women prefer to sit in an upright chair while breastfeeding, while others prefer to breastfeed on a cushioned chair or sofa, or while lying down.

Experiment with what works best for you and your baby. You may need to use extra pillows, rolled blankets or other items to support the weight of your baby and prop him/her up to a level that is comfortable for breastfeeding.

 

Breastfeeding Positions

When choosing a breastfeeding position, it important to make sure that you and your baby are comfortable and well supported. There are four basic breastfeeding positions, these include Cross Cradle, Football, Cradle and the Side-Lying Position. Every mom and baby is unique in their physical characteristics. You and your baby will discover which position works best for the two of you. Click here or call the Public Health Unit for a copy of the Breastfeeding Your Baby booklet. It contains pictures of the following breastfeeding positions:

 

Football Hold Position

  • Hold your baby’s back and shoulders in the palm of your hand.
  • Position your baby so that his/her head is in line with your breast and his/her legs and trunk are tucked under your armpit.
  • Support the breast to help the baby achieve a successful latch.
  • Bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to baby.
  • Mothers who have a small baby, large breasts or who have had a caesarean section often prefer this position.
  • This position is often works well if you are learning to breastfeed and feeding more than one baby at a time.

 

Cradle Position

  • Use pillows to help support the weight of your baby and to bring him/her to the level of your nipple.
  • Sitting in an upright supported position, cradle your baby in the arm closest to the breast you want to feed on.
  • Hold your baby’s head in the crook of your arm.
  • Your baby should be facing you tummy-to-tummy.
  • Use your opposite hand to support your breast so that your baby can achieve a successful latch.
  • Bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to your baby.
  • This position works well for if you are learning to breastfeed.

 

Side-Lying Position

  • Lie on your side so that you and your baby are facing each other.
  • Prop yourself up with your elbow and use your other hand to position your breast so that the baby can latch on.
  • Put your baby on the side and pull him close to you so that his/her mouth is in line with your nipple
  • Bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to your baby.
  • Once your baby is latched correctly, you can lie back down.
  • Mothers who have a small baby, large breasts, flat or sore nipples or who have had a caesarean birth find that this position works well.

 

Cross Cradle Position

  • Use a pillow across your lap to help support the weight of your baby and help prop him/her up to the level of your nipple.
  • Sitting in an upright position, hold your baby across your lap with the arm opposite to the breast that you wish to feed on, taking special care to support his/her neck and head.
  • Your baby should be on his/her side facing you tummy-to-tummy.
  • Use the same-sided hand to support your breast.
  • Many mothers who are learning to breastfeed find this position quite effective.

 

Achieving A Successful Latch

The key to effective breastfeeding is achieving a successful latch. Here are some steps that you can take to get your baby to latch on to your breasts correctly:

  1. Start by having your baby face you.
  2. Position your baby so that his/her mouth is opposite your nipple.
  3. Hold your breast in one hand. Do not squeeze your breast.
  4. Gently stroke your baby’s lip with your nipple. Continue to do this, until your baby opens his/her mouth wide open.
  5. When his/her mouth is open, bring your baby to the breast allowing him/her to have a mouthful of your breast. Remember, its breastfeeding not nipple feeding.
  6. Your baby’s lips should be flanged outwards and relaxed.
  7. Your baby’s chin should be pressed against your breast, and his/her nose should be touching your breast.
  8. Breastfeeding should not hurt. It should feel like a gentle pull.
  9. If it hurts, take your baby off the breast by placing your finger in his/her mouth to break the suction and start over.

Remember learning to latch-on to the breast is a process. It may take you and your baby several attempts before achieving a successful latch. If you find that you are continuously having difficulty achieving a good latch, seek help from your health care provider, a public health nurse or lactation consultant. It is important to get assistance early on, so that any latching problems can be resolved and that breastfeeding can be a great experience for both you and your baby.

Tips To Promote Successful Breastfeeding

Breastfeed as soon as possible after birth.

It is recommended that your baby be brought to your breast as soon as possible after birth as he/she experiences a quiet period of alertness. During the first 2 hours, the baby’s sucking reflex is strong, thereby making it much easier to obtain an adequate latch.

Please be aware that medications given to you during your labour process may decrease your baby’s alertness and ability to effectively suckle at the breast. However, this is only temporary (usually a few hours) and resolves as the medication wears off.

Also, bringing your baby to the breast soon after delivery is recommended because it promotes milk production. Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand –the more you nurse your baby the more milk you will make.

When the baby is brought to the breast it stimulates your brain to produce prolactin as well as oxytocin. Prolactin in the hormone primarily responsible for milk production and oxytocin is responsible for smooth muscle contraction that allows the breast to squeeze the milk out.

 

Bottles and pacifers should not be given to the baby.

During the early weeks, it is recommended that bottles or soothers not be introduced to your baby as it can interfere with his/her ability to breastfeed.

The suckling needed for breastfeeding is very different than the suckling needed for an artificial nipple. Milk flows more freely from an artificial nipple, with little effort exerted on the part of the baby. This in turn may lead to nipple confusion, as your baby may have difficulty latching onto your breast.

Therefore, it is not recommended that a bottle or soother be used until breastfeeding is well established. Generally, this is around 4 to 6 weeks.

 

Do not limit the length and frequency of breastfeeding.

Feed your baby on demand and allow your baby to determine when he/she is finished feeding. Every baby is unique in his/her feeding pattern, and therefore there are no set times to feed your baby.

In the first month, your baby will want to feed every 11/2 to 3 hours, or at least 8 to 12 times daily. The amount of time they spend breastfeeding will also vary. Feed your baby according to hunger cues.

 

Breastmilk is all that your baby needs.

Breastmilk is nutritionally complete. It contains all the vitamins and minerals that your baby needs for optimal growth and development for the first 6 months of life.

There is no need to introduce or supplement with any other food (unless medically indicated by your health care provider). By giving your baby only breastmilk, it will help to keep your supply of milk plentiful.

 

References:

La Leche League International (1997). The breastfeeding answerbook. (Revised

Ed.). Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International Inc.

Ladewig, P.A., London, M.L. & Olds, S.B. (2000). Maternal newborn nursing, a

family and community-based approach (6th ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ:

Prentice-Hall Inc.

Newman, J. (2000). Dr. jack newman’s guide to breastfeeding. Toronto, ON:

Harpers Collins Publishers Ltd.

Toronto Public Health (2000). Pamphlet: “Breastfeeding your baby”. Toronto,

ON:Toronto Public Health.

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