Whichever method you choose, feeding your baby is so much more than just a matter of nutrition – it’s also about bonding and comfort. Use feeding time to make eye contact with your baby, hold them close and snuggle in that quiet moment of feeding.
Not only is breast milk free, it also contains everything your baby needs until they start weaning. It’s convinient – no need to make up feeds or check the temperature – it’s right there for when your baby needs it.
How to breast-feed
You can choose any position you wish to nurse in, whether that be a seated or laying down position. It should be one that gives you the best feeding position for your baby and their needs. For me – I liked sitting down during the day feeds, and lying down for the dream feeds at night.
Many use the cradle hold, seated upright, holding baby like a cradle. This allows you to hold the baby with one hand and use the other to support or move your breast. It also allows you a free hand to do other things if you’re a multi-tasking mama!
No matter what position you decide on, get some support! A nursing pillow or using couch or bed pillows to help you hold baby up will save strain on your neck and back. I found the specially designed support pillows worked best, but really any pillow can help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others if you’re just learning to feed. It takes time and lot’s of patience. The mums that come to me for advice are usually just in need of a little position guidance – it’s often just about correct latching and a little confidence.
A good breast-feeding position
A good latch is one of the most important parts of breastfeeding comfortably. The picture on the left is a great way of showing you where your nipple needs to be in relation to your babies mouth.
Your baby ideally should be belly to belly with you and chin to breast. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right first time – it’s not something that happens easily for many feeding mums, so don’t panic.
If your baby is twisted or has their head turned it can make it not only more difficult for them to get milk, but it can make your nipples very sore. This is the mistake I made with my first baby and soon was in lots of discomfort.
A good way to position is to use your one hand to cup the breast and offer it to baby. Baby should open their mouth wide enough to take a good portion of the areola tissue (darker portion of the breast) into the mouth. As baby does this pull them closer to the breast and watch them feed.
If you didn’t get a good latch the first time, don’t be tempted to leave the baby on anyway, as this’ll make you sore in time. Just remove the baby from the breast by sliding your finger inbetween your nipple and their mouth and try again. It may take several tries before you get a good latch. As your baby learns to breastfeed, it will get easier. It just takes time and patience.
While your baby is feeding check these few things to ensure all is well:
- Your baby should have their lips around the breast.
- Your baby’s tongue should be curled around your breast. (If you gently pull your little one’s lower lip down a bit while they are feeding you can usually see this.)
- You are able to hear your baby swallowing.
You can either offer both sides of your breasts during feeding, or you can offer alternative breasts at each feed (left side one feed and right feed the next feed.) This is personal choice, so whichever your comfortable with is fine.
Having said that, it’s important to remember here that Foremilk is the thirst quenching milk, and the milk that is lying in the front of your breasts, this is the first milk that baby drinks with a breastfeeding session and this milk is watery compared to hind milk and is usually bluish in color. This milk is milk is abundant in vitamins, protein and carbohydrates.
The second milk (Hindmilk) is the milk further at the back of your breasts that looks thicker and darker in color. This hindmilk is calorie loaded and much higher in fat and helps your baby put on weight.
I fed my two from a different breast at each feed, but I know many mothers find this uncomfortable with one breast more full than the other. Like with anything parenting, it’s about making your own informed choice.
Breastfeeding should be the most natural thing in the world, but for some women it is not. Don’t ever fee like a failure if you have trouble breastfeeding your baby, it takes time and patience and understanding.
Don’t worry if you don’t pick it up right away either – lot’s of mothers take a few weeks, even months to get breastfeeding established, this is why support is so important.
If at any time you have concerns or just need some support, contact your health visitor who will be able to help or put you in touch with a breastfeeding support group. Don’t be frightened to go along to the groups – you’ll find there’s lots of other mums struggling too and the support you’ll get knowing you’re not alone is pretty fantastic.
I really hope this gentle guide to breast-feeding has helped you in your parenting journey.