Getting Off to a Good Start
Place baby skin-to-skin with you as soon after birth as possible. Place baby on your chest in between the breast with a blanket covering the two of you. Early skin-to-skin contact with mother increases success of breastfeeding.
Offer breast as soon as hunger cues are observed. Babies are very patient at this time. The following are a newborn's way of telling you they are hungry:
- Fisted hands close to the face
- Licking lips
- Crying is a late sign of hunger that occurs 20-30 minutes after early signs have been missed
Offer the baby a chance to latch during the first hour of life. Baby will be very alert during this time. Keep baby with you as much as possible. This will allow you to observe hunger cues and feed on demand. Frequent feedings will give you and baby lots of practice.
Avoid giving bottles and pacifiers during the early weeks. The use of artificial nipples has been shown to increase nipple pain in mothers. Breastfed infants need to nurse frequently for the first few weeks to establish a good milk supply for mothers.
Achieving a Good Latch
Choose a position that is comfortable for you and baby. The cross-cradle hold works well for newborns. See the section on positioning to find a position that works well for you.
Nipple should be at the level of the baby's nose to encourage the baby to look up at the breast when latching. This helps to achieve a deeper latch.
Brush the nipple above the top lip to encourage the baby to open wide like a yawn. Once baby opens wide, place nipple in the top 1/3rd of the mouth. Nipple should be pointed to the roof of the mouth.
You should feel a strong tug with each suckle, not pain. If pain is felt, break the latch by using gentle pressure at the corner of the mouth and attempt the latch again. Baby should be latched well onto the areola, not just the nipple. Baby should not be making smacking sounds while nursing and cheeks should be full and round, not dimpled.
Some moms experience tenderness at the beginning of each feeding (approximately 15 - 20 seconds), but that subsides during the first week. We encourage moms to check the shape of the nipple after each feeding. The nipple should be elongated, but still round. If nipple is oval in shape, has lines or creases thru the end, baby is probably smashing the nipple between the roof of the mouth and the tongue. This can lead to painful cracked nipples.
Cracking, bruising, blisters, and pain the entire feeding are not normal and signs of an incorrect latch. Sometimes simple changes in positioning can fix the problem. Please feel free to contact us for assistance at any time.
How often, how long?
Baby's need to nurse often in the beginning to help moms establish a good milk supply. Watch baby for hunger cues and offer breast when observed.
Breast milk changes throughout the day in amount and consistency. This means that sometimes digestion happens faster with some feedings than others. Therefore it is very normal for babies who are breastfed to nurse frequently and sporadically in the first few weeks.
Frequency can be anywhere from 1 - 3 hours for newborns and should be determined by hunger cues from baby. Duration of feedings should also be determined by the baby. All babies eat at different rates just like adults. Only allowing baby to nurse a set number of minutes at each feeding can affect weight gain and your milk supply. Watch baby for cues of satisfaction to determine when they are finished. Baby's arms usually will straighten out or at least relax, and fists open up.
Feeding as often and as long as the baby desires will lead to a great milk supply and a happier baby.
Reverse Cradle Hold
Start by positioning baby and yourself tummy to tummy. Baby's ears, shoulders, and hips should be in a straight line. Baby should not be trying to latch with head turned to the side. If nursing at the left breast, support your breast with your left hand. Your hand should be shaped like a C with your fingers under the breast and thumb on the top. Try not crowd the nipple and areola by leaving an area of skin between the edge of the areola and where you place your hand to support the breast.
Supporting the breast will decrease nipple discomfort. Support the baby with your right arm along the baby's back. Right hand should also make the letter C. Place this around the baby's neck with the palm on the top of the shoulder's and the fingers close to the baby's ears. Avoid placing your hand or fingers on the back of the baby's head. Once in this position, your baby's nose should be across from your nipple. This will encourage the baby to look up when latching which will assist in getting more of the nipple and areola in the baby's mouth. Baby should be supported just below the level of your breast.
Start by placing baby tummy to tummy, right below the level of your breast. If you are nursing at the left breast, the baby should rest in your left arm. Baby's head should rest on top of the bend of your elbow. This allows the baby to flex head and look up at the breast when latching. You should not let the baby latch when the baby's chin is resting on its chest. This will make the latching difficult and often results in sore nipples.
Baby is in the correct position if the chin is off the newborn's chest and the neck is exposed. Also, before attempting to latch, place the baby with the nose across from your nipple. This encourages baby to look up when latching to assist with a deeper, more comfortable latch. You may hold your breast in your right hand to assist with the latch. Be sure to use the C-hold described in the cross cradle positioning.
Start by placing a pillow behind your back on the opposite side you desire to nurse from. This will allow extra space for the baby's feet and legs. In the football hold it is still important to start with baby facing you; in this position baby will be at your side. Baby will be supported just below the level of your breast.
If you are nursing on your left side, you will hold baby in your left arm supporting baby's head by placing your hand around the back of the baby's neck with the fingers and thumb by the ears. Palm of the hand should be on the shoulders and the top of the back and the rest of the baby supported by the forearm. Again, in this position, it is important that the baby's chin not rest on its chest. Position the baby so that baby is looking up when attempting to latch to assist with a deeper, more comfortable latch.
Start by finding a comfortable place to rest on your side. Your pillow should be under your head only. Turn to the side you wish to nurse from. Place the arm on the side you are nursing from under your pillow up out of the way. Hold your breast using the C-hold described in the cross cradle section. Have someone place the baby next to you on its side. Nipple should be across from the baby's nose to encourage baby to look up when latching. This will help with a more comfortable latch.