1. Get Comfortable
Use a wide breastfeeding pillow or a big nest of pillows from your bed to support your baby in your lap, and to support your arms on either side of you. You can also use the pillows to raise your head and shoulders if you’re laying back. If you’re sitting, sit in a chair with back support (save rocking chairs for later when you’re a pro), and use a little footstool. If you don’t have a footstool, tape some old phone directories together.
2. Make sure baby is in the right position
Position your baby’s tummy towards you so that he doesn’t need to turn his head and neck to drink, as this makes swallowing difficult. Make sure that your baby’s ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line. His nose and mouth should face your nipple.
3. Hold your breast
Hold your hand on your breast with your fingers on one side and your thumb on the other – much like you would compress a sandwich or hamburger. This gives support, stops the breast from pressing onto baby’s chin, allows you to ensure that baby’s bottom lip is flanged out over the chin and helps baby get a good mouthful of your nipple and as much of the areola (brown part around the nipple) as will fit into his mouth (baby’s breast fed not nipple fed).
4. Help your baby to latch on
Gently tickle baby’s top lip with your nipple to encourage him to open his mouth wide and then pull him in towards your nipple – don’t lean down to your baby. Hold your baby in your arm with his feet in your hand and his head in the crook of your arm. If you prefer baby’s head in your hand, hold your hand on his shoulders and support his back. Holding the back of baby’s head can result in the reflex action of baby arching away from the breast.
Take a deep breath. If you’re tense, sing a gentle song to baby. If it hurts, use your pinkie finger to de-latch and try again. The pain can come from baby not having a deep enough latch resulting in the hard pallet pressing against your nipple instead of the soft pallet at the back of his mouth. Remember: How comfortable the latch feels is what tells you it is correct. You and your baby are both learning, sometimes it just takes a little longer, but it will come right. Seek help if it hurts. Pain is always a sign that you need help.
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