Breastfeeding is one of the most crucial parts of motherhood. The responsibility is great as a mother is expected to provide sustenance for the baby for as long as possible.
Breast milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect the baby. The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. This protection is unique; formula cannot match the chemical makeup of human breast milk.
The act of breastfeeding looks easy enough that’s why most expectant moms do not attempt to prepare for it. But sometimes, breastfeeding can be quite tricky for newbie parents.
Experts say the most important part of successful breastfeeding is the latch. If the baby is not properly latched on to the mother’s breast, feedings could be painful. There are specific techniques that can be used when latching the baby to the breast.
The following techniques used with proper positioning, can help ensure a proper latch:
- Sit on a comfortable chair when feeding the baby. Choose one that has great back support because it can be really helpful in relieving your back from the pressure. Using a stool to rest your feet on will also help with good posture and prevent you from straining your neck and shoulders.
- Get yourself a breastfeeding support pillow as it will help ease the tension during breastfeeding. If you don’t have one, use whatever kind of pillows you can find to help support you and the baby. A good breastfeeding pillow can make a huge difference in getting the baby in a proper position to latch on well.
- Make sure your baby is tummy-to-tummy with you at all times.
- Make sure you bring baby to you and do not try to lean into the baby. Not only will this cause severe strain on your neck and shoulders, but it can affect the baby’s position.
- Remember to keep your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip in alignment which will make swallowing easier.
- The baby’s nose should be opposite the nipple.
- You might need to hold your breast to help guide the nipple to your baby’s mouth. Grasp the breast on the sides, using either a “C” hold or “U” hold. Make sure to keep fingers far from the nipple so you don’t affect how baby latches on.
- Aim the nipple toward the baby’s upper lip/nose, not the middle of the mouth.You might need to rub the nipple across the top lip to get your baby to open his mouth.
- The baby’s head should be tilted slightly back. You do not want his chin to his chest.
- When he opens his mouth wide with the chin dropped and tongue down, he should latch on to the nipple. If he does not open wide, do not try to shove the nipple in and wiggle the mouth open. It is best to move back, tickle the lip again with the nipple and wait for a wide open mouth.
- Try to get as much of the lower portion of the areola (the area around the nipple) in the baby’s mouth.The baby’s chin should indent the lower portion of your breast.
- Look to see if the baby’s bottom and top lip are flanged out like fish lips. If they are not, you may use your finger to pull the bottom one down and open up the top one more.
- The position in which you hold your baby is also crucial. When a good position and latch is obtained, breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience between mother and baby. A lactation consultant may prove helpful in getting the techniques down.
Many moms report that their breasts can be tender at first until both they and their baby find comfortable breastfeeding positions and a good latch. Once you have done this, breastfeeding should be comfortable. If it hurts, your baby may be sucking on only the nipple. Gently break your baby’s suction to your breast by placing a clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth and try again. Also, your nipple should not look flat or compressed when it comes out of your baby’s mouth. It should look round and long, or the same shape as it was before the feeding.
Breastfeeding may take a little more effort at first, but it can make life easier once you and your baby settle into a good routine. A good latch is important for your baby to breastfeed effectively and for your comfort. During the early days of breastfeeding, it can take time and patience for your baby to latch on well.
Still not working? Talk with a lactation consultant or pediatrician if your baby’s suck feels weak or if you are not sure he or she is getting enough milk.