Breastfeeding Techniques

Breastfeeding is a beautiful bonding experience. The benefits appear to extend into the rest of both the child and parents lives.

Before a feeding, always first wash your hands. To start breastfeeding settle into a comfortable relaxed position, either seated or lying down almost, but not quite flat, turning from one side to the other or changing the child’s position from one side to the other in order to offer both breasts your baby at each feed. It may take some time to find the position that suits you best. You may even find you enjoy moving between positions during a feed.

The best position is of course the one in which you and your baby feel most comfortable and relaxed. and you don’t have to strain to hold the position or keep nursing. A few common comfortable positions to choose from include:

The side-lying position, it is especially great for night feeds in bed. It’s probably the best position if you are recovering from an episiotomy. You can use pillows to make yourself comfortable, snuggling close to your baby, lying on your side, use your free hand to lift your breast and nipple to your infants mouth. Once the baby is latched support their head and neck so that there is no twisting or straining to keep on nursing.

An alternative position that works very well for newborns and small infants is the ‘football’. This position is best for mommies recovering from a caesarian and you need to protect your tummy from the pressure or weight of your baby. The position can be achieved by lying your babies back along your forearm to hold your baby like you would a football supporting the head and neck in the palm of your hand.

The ‘cradle’ is another popular position. With the babies whole body facing you, rest the side of your infants head in the crook of your elbow. Position the baby so that their tummy is against your body and feels fully supported. Wrap your free arm around to support babies neck and head or reach through the legs to support the lower back.

In any of these positions, of course, the infant faces you. Support the offered breast with your thumb and index finger on top and the others below. Gently brush the nipple against the middle of your infant’s lower lip. This will stimulate the child’s rooting reflex which makes open their mouth to latch onto the breast. Make sure the nipple is center to the child’s mouth which will prevent soreness. Before removing the child from the breast, break the suction by inserting a finger into the baby’s mouth and gently press the child’s chin downwards. This is important again to prevent later pain.

Whichever position you find most comfortable it’s essential that you are comfortable. The baby must be brought to your breast. The breast must not be brought to the baby. If you are leaning over the baby you will strain your back and possibly result in a poor latching. You can use pillows, a foot stool or coffee table if needed to make yourself comfortable. Feeding pillows can also be lifesaving. They are my number one purchased item for baby-showers.

During the first few feeding sessions baby should be encouraged to nurse on both breasts at each feed. They will tend to only spend a few minutes at each breast at these first feedings. This will initiate the let-down and trigger milk production. Milk production is dependent on sufficient sucking time, so patience is key, and feeding must continue long enough for milk production to be adequate. The breast used last should be used first at the next feeding. Feeding should be on the babies demand but no more than 6 hours should elapse between feeding sessions in order to stimulate milk production. The length of sessions should be adjusted to meet the infants needs and they should be feeding 8 to 12 times a day but this is a guideline only and varies from infant to infant.

Within 3 to 5 days after birth especially for your first baby so that the doctor can assess how breastfeeding is going, check babies weight and answer any questions you may have. This may need to happen sooner, if your child is not feeding well or you have a particular concern round feeding. If breastfeeding doctors will regularly weigh your baby to make sure they are getting enough milk. Babies that are always hungry and feeding hourly, but failing to gain weight may not be getting enough milk at feeds.

Subscribe to our blog or stay tuned via our Facebook page. Next week we’ll find out how to know if your baby is getting enough breast milk.

Written by: Bianca Steyn

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