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Breastfeeding Tips & Breastfeeding Advice

Breastfeeding Tips & Breastfeeding Advice

Your pregnant body is nothing short of miraculous. In just nine months it nourishes and grows a tiny fertilized egg from conception into an awe-inspiring baby. But this miracle doesn't stop at birth. It continues with the production of the perfect baby food, breast milk. We’ve put together this guide to give you the breastfeeding tips and basics you’ll need to get breastfeeding off to a good start, even before baby arrives.

Before baby: Getting ready to breastfeed

Planning is everything, and can certainly help make breastfeeding a success. The perfect time to start planning is during pregnancy. Ask questions, read and get opinions. You should also consider the following:

  • Assess your nipples now – if they happen to be flat or inverted talk to your doctor, midwife or lactation consultant who can give you some go-to “tricks of the trade” and breastfeeding advice to help make breastfeeding successful.
  • Fill your freezer and fridge with already prepared snacks and meals – do as much as you can in advance, you’ll thank yourself for this later.
  • Find supportive family and friends – talk about your decision to breastfeed with your partner and make sure you both understand the demands, especially early on. Ask for help when you need it and don’t turn it down when it is offered, get friends and family to help with cleaning, making food, and doing some shopping.

Baby’s here, get off to a good start

Breastfeed within the first 30 minutes of birth

Begin breastfeeding your baby as soon as possible after birth, within 30 minutes. Babies are generally more alert and interested in feeding at that time. Plus, the suckling reflex is particularly strong. Skin-to-skin contact with your baby is important and helps with successful breastfeeding initiation. Many studies attribute part of the success of breastfeeding to this very first feeding, within the first 30 minutes of life.

Breastfeed on demand

The more often your baby nurses, the more milk you produce. So feed your baby whenever she seems hungry. For most newborns, that means feeding every 2-3 hours throughout the day and night, or 8-12 times within 24 hours. After you deliver, take advantage of hospital policies on baby rooming-in to help make sure that, from the start, your baby feeds whenever she likes.

Breastfeeding tips & basics: A step by step guide

Establish a routine

Breastfeeding gives you and your baby a special time to relax together. Most moms find it helpful to breastfeed their babies in a calm environment. Establish a routine that's comfortable for you. Use a favourite armchair or rocking chair and have a few supplies on hand:

  • A nursing pillow to support your baby in your lap
  • A nursing stool to elevate your feet and ease the strain on your back
  • A large glass of water and perhaps a healthy snack

Don't feel rushed

Remove distractions. This is you and baby time. You should take your first breastfeeding attempts slowly and calmly. Don't expect too much of yourself or your baby right away, and don't hesitate to ask your doctor, lactation consultant, hospital or public health nurse or a close family member for guidance and breastfeeding advice.

1. Bring baby to your breast, rather than your breast to baby. Hold baby close to your body, skin to skin, tummy to tummy, face to breast, mouth to nipple. Support your baby’s neck and shoulders but watch that you don’t push on the back of baby’s head as this may cause the baby to push back from the breast.

Swallowing becomes difficult if baby's neck is twisted. So check to see that baby's body is straight with ear, shoulder and hip aligned. Support your breast by holding fingers underneath, away from the areola (dark area), with your thumb on top.

2. Stimulate baby's lips gently with your nipple until her mouth opens as big as a yawn. When baby's mouth is opened wide, quickly push your infant across the shoulders so the chin and lower jaw make first contact with the breast while baby’s mouth is still wide open.

When baby feels your nipple with her tongue, the upper lips will close over, covering the nipple and as much of the areola as possible, and seal it. Both lips should be rolled outwards. You should see sucking motions along the jawline.

3. Your nipple should be as far back in baby's mouth as possible. If breastfeeding is painful, the latch may be on your nipple instead of your breast.

Release baby's suction gently by placing a finger in the corner of her mouth until you break the suction. Re-position and re-latch the baby to your breast.

4. Once baby has latched and the milk comes down, you'll notice pronounced jaw movements and hear small swallowing noises from your baby.

After enough milk has transferred to baby, your breasts will feel softer and less full than before the feed.

Position, position, position

Good position is the key to effective breastfeeding and helps prevent potential problems like sore or cracked nipples. Try a variety of positions, and choose one that is comfortable for both you and your baby. Experiment with each of the following breastfeeding positions until you discover what's most comfortable for both of you.

Cradle hold

Sitting upright, place baby's body on his side across your lap, facing you. Support his head in the crook of your elbow and his back and bottom with your forearm. Move his face in front of your breast, holding your breast with thumb on top and fingers below. Brush your baby's mouth or cheek with your nipple and he may instinctively seek the nipple and begin to suck.

Cross-cradle hold

Baby's position is similar to the cradle hold. Using your opposite arm to hold her, support baby's head with your open hand. This makes it easy for you to move baby to your breast and into a comfortable position as she latches on to suck.

Football hold

Picture how a football player tucks a ball under his arm. Now tuck your baby under your arm, holding her head and neck in your hand, feet extending toward your back. Support your arm with a pillow at your side. This hold may be more comfortable if you've had a caesarean delivery or have large breasts. It's also helpful if your baby tends not to take enough of your nipple and areola into his mouth in the other positions. It also enables moms with twins to breastfeed two babies at once.

Side-laying

This is called a "snack-and-snooze" position. It helps get your baby correctly latched onto your breast in your early days of breastfeeding, and is another option if you're recovering from a caesarean delivery. Lie on your side with your baby on her side, facing you. Use the hand underneath you to help position your baby's head at your lower breast as you pull her closer to you with the other hand. When baby has attached to your breast, use your lower hand to support her head.

Alternate positions

If you are experiencing nipple soreness or small, hard lumps in your breast caused by the ducts being plugged with breast milk, try different positions when breastfeeding your baby. Changing positions helps the milk ducts to drain and prevents your baby from sucking on the same sore area of your nipple.

The Latch and Release

A good latch, also known as “latching on”, will keep both you and your baby happy; she’ll get plenty of milk, you’ll be comfortable and relaxed, and breastfeeding will be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for both of you.

Positioning your baby in the right way will help to ensure a deep latch with your nipple to the back of your baby’s mouth rather than letting it rest on her gum line, which causes nipple soreness. Your baby is probably in a good position if:

  • She doesn’t have to turn her head sideways to reach your breast, her tummy should be against your tummy
  • Let your baby open her mouth wide to latch onto your breast, then with your arm or hand behind her shoulders, bring her in closer to your body
  • Your baby should take most of the areola (the brown skin around the nipple) into her mouth and her bottom lip will be covering more of your areola than the top lip. Her chin should be pressed against your breast
  • Make sure she can easily breathe through her nose. If she can't, use your finger to press down lightly on your breast to create an air pocket
  • When her mouth is wide you’ll hear pauses when she sucks; she may start with quick sucks and as you continue to breastfeed these will turn into slower, deeper sucks

The upper lip touch

This may be enough to stimulate her rooting reflex, and she'll turn her head to your nipple, mouth wide open. The rooting reflex is baby's natural instinct to turn her head toward something that touches her cheek or face and will help her find your breast.

Learn how to release

To break the suction and move your baby to the other breast, gently place a finger between her lower and upper gums to open her mouth. Make sure to keep your fingernails trimmed to be as gentle as possible with your baby.

Important Notes

  • If breastfeeding is painful, the latch may be on your nipple instead of your breast. Once your baby has latched and the milk comes down, you should start to notice pronounced jaw movements and hear small swallowing noises from your baby.
  • If you feel your baby has latched incorrectly, break the latch as described above and re-adjust your position.
  • Your baby will slow down as she begins to feel full. This is a good time to take your baby off of your first breast, offer a burp, and move your baby to your second breast.

Find breastfeeding help when you need it most

Most difficulties can be easily managed. You may simply need a few answers or a little guidance along the way. If you get support quickly, you'll be more likely to persevere with breastfeeding and be happy that you did. Some hospitals, community clinics or public health units also offer breastfeeding clinics to assist you in the community.

  • Ask your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant
  • If you baby was born in a hospital, most run breastfeeding clinics
  • Call your local health department and speak with a public health nurse
  • Talk to breastfeeding support group such as La Leche League - and find a local representative in the phone book or online

If you don't find the information you're looking for, please feel free to contact us for additional support.

 
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