We know it’s best for baby, but breastfeeding may feel like rocket science in the early days. These tips will help make breastfeeding easier for both you and your baby.
“Latching needs to be painless and effective,” says UK-based doctor and international board-certified lactation consultant Dr Nan Jolly. “It’s hard to say whether a latch is incorrect, as each mom and baby fit together in their own way. If it doesn’t hurt, and your baby is getting milk effectively, then it’s good – regardless of how it looks.”
Keep the following in mind to make breastfeeding easier for you and your baby:
- Milk isn’t in the nipple, but behind it. Your baby should have a good mouthful of areola (the area around the nipple) in her mouth.
- Dress in a button-down top and wear a nursing bra.
- Use your baby’s rooting reflex to your advantage. She’s biologically designed to root around for the nipple by moving her head from side to side. Touch or tickle her lips and cheek closest to your breast to encourage contact.
- As your baby gets ready to latch, her mouth opens wide and the bottom lip curls down. Hold her head gently and guide it against your nipple.
- You might need to push down on her chin if her mouth isn’t open wide enough.
- Some well-meaning nurses or onlookers may tell you to push your baby’s head onto your nipple, but she might resist and fight this. Rather, hold her entire body from her bottom to her shoulders and use your hand to support her head.
- Your baby needs more breast in her mouth than you think possible. Picture the nipple resting quite far back in her throat – which means less friction and pain for you. She can still breathe, as her head is angled back slightly; if you have large breasts and are worried, simply push down on the breast skin closest to her nose.
- You may find latching painful in the first few seconds. If pain continues, the latch probably isn’t ideal, so de-latch and try again.
- De-latch by popping your finger into the corner of her mouth to break the suction.
- Usually (but not always), you’ll see your baby’s temples moving and your breast being pulled into her mouth if she’s latched correctly, but don’t get hung up on this – if she’s getting plenty of milk, you’re doing fine.
- A faulty latch might make your baby’s cheeks draw inwards.
- It’s not true that you always need to hear a baby swallowing to know that you’re latching correctly.
- You may or may not feel a sharp, tingling or shooting sensation at the side of your breast as she starts to suck – this is called the let-down reflex and it’s normal.
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