Breastfeeding is a wonderful, natural experience, but it takes time and effort to get the hang of it, and you may become frustrated at times. Its well worth the work. Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby and for yourself. Here's how to get started:
Support your breasts with thumb on one side and fingers on the other all well back from the areola. If your breasts are large and heavy while baby is learning to feed, you may need to hold the breast during the whole feeding.
The most important step in breastfeeding is getting the baby latched on well. A good latch means the baby has the nipple and part of the areola in his mouth and is sucking and swallowing well. Both you and baby should feel comfortable. He uses his tongue and jaws to draw milk from the breast, and a good latch allows him to get enough milk and helps avoid sore nipples. A poor latch can cause sore nipples, blocked milk ducts, engorgement or, less frequently, infection.
To get a good latch, lightly tickle your baby's lips with your nipple until his mouth is open wide like a yawn. Be patient; you may have to try a few times. When his mouth is open as big as a yawn, pull him in close to you, chin first.
Always bring baby to the breast. Do not bring the breast to the baby by leaning forward. The nipple and part of the areola should be in his mouth. If he is breastfeeding correctly, you'll see a wide mouth and his chin in tight to the breast. You will also see his jaw drop with each suck and hear a swallow.
Your baby isn't nursing properly if you hear a soft clicking sound, see dimpled cheeks, if his lips look like he is sucking on a straw, if you don't hear swallowing, or if it hurts.
If breastfeeding hurts, remove the baby from your breast by breaking his suckle with your little finger and re-latch. Get help!
Sometime after the baby starts feeding, your milk begins to flow more easily. This is the let-down reflex. Some women feel a tingling, pin -and-needles feeling in their breasts when the reflex is starting. But don't worry if you don't feel that tingling; the baby's sucking action still causes let-down.
Gently put your finger in the corner of the baby's mouth, between the gums, to break the suction. It's important to learn not to try to pull the nipple out of his mouth; the baby will tighten his mouth, which can hurt and cause sore nipples.
Breastfed babies swallow very little air and may not need to burp. It is a good idea, however, to give the baby an opportunity to burp between breasts, during a feeding and after a feeding. If air is swallowed, burping will help relieve the discomfort this causes. Just changing baby's position will produce a burp.
Over-the-shoulder: This position requires you to place your baby high on your chest with his head peeking over your shoulder. Support him well across his back and buttocks. Gently pat or rub his back until you hear a burp.
Over the lap: Place your baby on his tummy, across your lap. Gently rub or pat his back until you hear a burp.
Sitting and rocking: Sit your baby sideways on your lap. Place your thumb and first finger under his chin, with your palm supporting his chest and your other hand supporting his back. Gently rock him back and forth. You might lightly rub or pat his back until you hear a burp. BW
Published in March 2007