When you arrive home from the hospital with your new baby, breastfeeding can seem intimidating. In the hospital, you may have had help from nurses and lactation consultants, but at home, you’re on your own. Fortunately, there are many tried and true techniques that will help you feed your child and get you on the way to a successful nursing relationship. Using the best breastfeeding positions will make feeding easier for you and baby.
Breastfeeding is a unique way for mother and child to bond. A breast is always clean and the correct temperature; you don’t have to deal with warming and sterilizing bottles and nipples. Breast milk contains many beneficial substances that formula does not have, including antibodies to protect the baby against disease. Breastfed babies have a lower incidence of medical problems like ear infections.
Our step by step instructions on the best breastfeeding positions will help you begin a beautiful relationship.
Best Breastfeeding Positions
Step 1: The Latch
Before you choose breastfeeding positions, it’s important that your baby have an efficient latch. When the baby is properly latched, he or she will be able to get the most milk possible and have a satisfying meal. Incorrect latching can also lead to nipple pain for the mother.
Step 2: Holding
Hold your baby on her side facing you, with your bellies touching. Bring your baby up to the level of your breast for the best breastfeeding positions. Don’t lean over to nurse. You may need a nursing pillow to get this right.
Step 3: The Sandwich
Hold your breast with your fingers around your areola. Compress your breast a little bit to form a “sandwich.”
Step 4: Open Wide
With baby’s head tilted back slightly, gently rub against her mouth as if you are tickling her. Tickle from her nose to her lips. She should open her mouth wide with this stimulation.
Step 5: Time to Latch
Tilt baby’s head back a bit and move him or her into the right position at your breast if necessary. With baby’s lower jaw below the nipple, tilt her head forward so that the breast is entering her mouth. Her upper jaw should be deeply placed on the breast. Check and make sure the whole nipple is in her mouth, along with 1 ½ inches or more of the areola in her mouth.
It is also important to make sure that baby’s lips are not inverted. An inverted latch will cause pain for the mother and inefficient nursing. Flip her lips out gently with your finger if you find that they are inverted.
Baby should be able to nurse deeply with this latch. You will hear and feel her suck and swallow. She may pause at times. Her nursing will probably slow as she gets toward the “end” of the breast and encounters the richer hindmilk.
If your baby is not latched correctly, take her off the breast and try again. To take a baby off the breast, gently slide your finger into her mouth beside the nipple. This will break the suction and allow you to take her off without pain.
Different Breastfeeding Positions to Try
The standard hold with baby lying on her side against your stomach is good for many situations, but there are times when you will need to nurse in other positions. Moms who have had C-sections especially need a different approach to avoid putting pressure on their incisions. Here are some of the best breastfeeding positions you can try.
As described above, this hold begins with the baby lined up with your forearm. You should have baby’s head in your crooked arm. Be sure to support her bottom so she can lie with her body in a straight line.
This hold is one of the best breastfeeding positions for moms who have had a C-section. Place baby beside you on a pillow. Bring his head up to the level of your breast and support his body with your arm. Latch as described above.
If you need to rest while you are nursing or have had a C-section, this is a useful hold. Lie down on the side you want to breastfeed from. With your head on a pillow, bring baby close to you and lie stomach to stomach. Hold her steady with your arm. Bring the breast to her mouth with your opposite hand.
With these step-by-step directions, you will find it easier to encourage a proper latch and to feed your baby with ease. When you have a proper latch and a comfortable breastfeeding position, you will be able to nurse successfully.