Although many first-time mothers find it helpful to watch breast-feeding “how to” videos or to work with a lactation coach, these are the basics of positioning your child to latch on to the nipple for feeding.
Find a comfortable location. Feeding times can vary significantly from 5-40 minutes. You want some place that is quiet with no distractions, especially in the beginning.
As you become more accustomed to feeding your child, you will be able to quietly read or listen to music through your headphones without upsetting your baby or disrupting the feeding time.
You can lie on your back to breast feed with your baby resting against your body, or cradle the child across your chest.
Have pillows or cushions ready if you are holding the child and your arm begins to tire. Make sure your back is well supported.
Bring the child to your breast with the head tipped back so that the baby is leading the motion with its chin. When the child’s lips touch the nipple, the infant will instinctively drop the lower jaw. With a smooth, quick motion move the baby’s mouth on to the breast.
Pay attention to the sensation when your child takes the nipple. In latching on, the child should take a mouthful of tissue.
To ensure this is the case, the child’s mouth should be wide open as it comes on the breast. Remember, the child’s tongue, bottom lip, and chin makes initial contact. The bottom lip should be as far from the base of the nipple as possible.
If you experience pain, the baby is not latched on correctly. If this is the case, place your finger gently between your child’s mouth and your breast to break the seal and begin again.
Don’t just carry on in a state of discomfort or your nipples will become too sore to properly feed your child.
You will know that the feeding is going well if the child progresses from short, quick sucks to slow, deep suckling. The child’s head should be tipped back with the chin touching the breast with the nose free and clear.
There should be more of your areola visible above the child’s upper lip than below the bottom one.
Allow your child to nurse for as long as the baby is hungry. The child should be relaxed and content, not wriggling around. The infant will release the breast when they are done.
At the end of the feeding examine your nipple. If it appears “squashed,” it’s likely it was not far enough back in the baby’s mouth and you still need to improve the child’s ability to latch on well.
The nipple should be at the back of the child’s mouth where the hard palate ends. The child’s jaw will move up and down with the action of the tongue to draw the milk into the mouth. The baby’s lower gum should never touch the breast.
Place your palm behind the child’s shoulders and your index finger and thumb behind the ears to support the head and better direct the baby’s motion toward the breast.
If the child’s hands are in the way, try wrapping the infant in a blanket so the baby’s arms are at the sides. This will let you keep the baby closer to the breast for more successful feedings.
Keep your hand away from your nipple as much as possible. Once the baby is properly supported and nursing, stay as still as you can.
When your child is sick, breastfeeding will supply needed comfort as well as nutrition and can help to settle a fussy baby.