How A Baby Breastfeeds
When a baby uses a bottle, he uses his cheeks to create suction to remove the milk. However, when a baby breastfeeds his cheeks are relaxed and his mouth is wide open while his tongue and lower jaw massage the milk from the breast.
As the baby nurses, a muscular wave starts at the tip of the babys tongue and moves backward. This rhythmical rolling action of the tongue and jaw massages the breast, squeezing the milk that lies in tiny pools beneath the areola into the nipple.
To be effective, the baby needs to take more than the nipple into his mouth. He needs to get far enough onto the breast so that his lower jaw and tongue can massage the pools of milk that lie in the lower part of the areola. If he is on well, less of the areola will be visible below the lower lip than above his top lip.
The First Few Days After Birth: Two Reasons To Nurse Right Away
There are two reasons to give a baby lots of practice during these first three days.
First, it will be easier for him to learn how to latch on when the breasts are soft second, the breasts need to be stimulated by his nursing to produce enough milk for later.
The system nature has designed for learning breastfeeding makes a lot of sense. A baby is born with extra protective stores of water and nutrition, so that he will only need the small amount of colostrum that his mother has available for him during the first few days. Since her milk production is not fully established, a mothers breasts are still soft and the baby can easily learn to latch on correctly. A typical baby will need a little hands-on help at first.
Be Prepared For Breastfeeding
Lori Theisen shares, The more you educate yourself, the more empowered and confident you will feel about breastfeeding.
Prenatal breastfeeding classes and support are hugely helpful for new moms. Theyre directly linked with more and longer breastfeeding among moms. Not only do these classes teach the basics, but they also address the common worries and concerns that can decrease a moms confidence in her ability to breastfeed.
Whats more, classes like those offered by Nest Collaborative are personalized to your needs. If you have specific questions or problems, your lactation consultant/teacher will work through them with you, so youre full of confidence as you start your breastfeeding journey.
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Holding And Shaping The Breast For Easy Latch
A U hold to sandwich the breast to fit easily into the babys mouth.
A U hold to sandwich the breast to fit easily into the babys mouth.
NOTE: If you shape your breast incorrectly by making a C instead of a U, the shape of the breast will not fit the babys mouth. This would be like trying to take a bite of a sandwich held vertically rather than horizontally.
Do A Bit Of Research On This Topic
There are many things that a woman should do if she wishes to help her baby latch the right way when she breastfeeds him or her. Furthermore, some of those things should be done before the baby has even been born, which means that they must also be done before the child’s mother has started breastfeeding. One of those things is research. According to parents.com, moms can do various things to research this topic. For example, they can take breastfeeding classes. They might also be able to find some books on this topic as well.
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What Is A Proper Breastfeeding Latch
It’s a myth that babies are born knowing how to latch on and breastfeed correctly. The proper latch often takes time, trial and error, and yes, sore nipples.
The ideal latch encompasses both the nipple and the surrounding areola, the pinkish-brown flat circle that became darker and developed goose bumps during pregnancy. Remember, though breast milk comes out of the numerous tiny openings in the nipple, your baby’s gums need to compress the areola and the milk sinuses located underneath it to actually start the flow. If not, your milk won’t let down and new milk won’t be produced.
How To Get Baby To Latch Step By Step
Here’s a guide to helping your baby latch on and get the nourishment and comfort he needs:
- Once your baby is in the right position, hold your breast with your free hand.
- Place your thumb above your nipple and areola at the spot where your baby’s nose will touch your breast. Your index finger should be in the spot where your baby’s chin will touch the breast.
- Lightly compress your breast, giving it a shape more closely resembling your baby’s mouth.
- Bringing your baby to your breast, stroke her cheek to allow the rooting reflex to kick in, and turn her mouth toward your breast then tickle her lips with your nipple until her mouth is open wide .
- Quickly bring her to the breast , allowing her to take your nipple and areola into her mouth.
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Between Days 6 And 10 Start Settling Into A More Predictable Breastfeeding Routine
Because your baby is likely receiving more milk than she did before, you may notice a more regular pattern of nursing, sleeping and alert periods after your milk comes in. If your baby likes to suckle for comfort, you may find that she prefers to cluster feed at certain times of day, meaning shell nurse almost continuously for a few hours, rather than nursing only once every two to three hours.
By this time, your baby should be producing four or more yellowish bowel movements and six or more wet diapers every 24 hours. Consult the A.A.P.s breastfeeding guide to help ensure you and your baby are still on the right breastfeeding path. Its also important to continue to find time to rest when your baby is sleeping.
How Can I Tell If My Baby Is Drinking
You can tell that your baby is drinking by seeing movement along the lower jaw or in your baby’s ear and temple.
At the beginning of a feed, babies tend to suck quickly. Then, during let-down, you may hear your baby gulping. This may sound like little clicks.
Toward the end of a feed, babies slow down. Your breasts may feel softer and you will notice that your baby’s hands and shoulders are more relaxed.
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How To Help Your Baby Latch On The Breast
1: Check your latching position
Before you start, and whichever breastfeeding position you choose, make sure your babys head, neck and spine are aligned, not twisted. His chin should be up, not dropped towards his chest. Make sure you feel comfortable too you could use pillows or cushions to support your back, arms or baby.1
2: Encourage your baby to open his mouth
Hold your baby close, your nipple level with his nose. Touch your nipple gently against his upper lip to encourage him to open his mouth wide. The wider his mouth is, the easier it will be to get a good latch on.1
3: Bring your baby to your breast
Once your baby has opened his mouth wide and has brought his tongue over his bottom gum, bring him on to your breast, aiming your nipple towards the top of his mouth. Your babys chin should be the first thing that touches your breast. He should take a large portion of your areola into his mouth, with his bottom lip and jaw covering more of the underneath of the areola.1 Its OK if you see part of your areola isnt inside his mouth we all have different-sized areolae and different-sized babies! Some mums find that gently shaping their breast at the same time as bringing their baby on to feed helps. Experiment and see what works.
4: Keep your baby close during latch on
5: Look and listen
6: How to break your babys latch on the breast
Latch Trick #: Use Babys Natural Instincts
“Relax and use baby’s natural instinct to latch – give baby some room to open wide by keeping your hand off the back of their head.
Drag your nipple down their mouth to elicit their natural gape reflex.
Remember it’s breastfeeding, not nipple feeding! They need lots of tissue for a comfortable latch!
-Mary Unangst, IBCLC at Sweet Songs Breastfeeding
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Other Ways To Help A Baby With Ineffective Sucking
Other hints for the baby include:
Skin-to-skin contact seems to help a lot of babies with nursing. This also helps you maintain milk production.
When a baby has the basic idea of effective sucking but can’t seem to do it consistently, try pumping one breast while breastfeeding your baby on the other.
Why Is Latching Important
If youre new to breastfeeding, youve probably heard the term latch thrown around a lot, but has anyone stopped to explain it?
Latching is how your baby attaches to your breast during breastfeeding. Their latch creates a suction that allows them to draw milk out of your breast as they stimulate the nipple. If a latch isnt good, it can cause a range of problems:
- Poor milk production
- Nipple pain and injury
- Poor weight gain
Whats more, these problems can cascade into other ones. For example, inadequate milk transfer can cause clogged ducts, which can cause mastitis. Mastitis can become recurrent if untreated, and antibiotic treatment, while often needed, can cause thrush to occur.
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Choose The Right Position
There are lots of positions for breastfeeding. Depending on your babys latch, how your birth recovery is going, your milk supply, and other factors, different positions may work better for you and your baby.
Note: Whatever position you choose, make sure you can hold it for a while. Nursing sessions can take anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes depending on your baby, their nursing patterns, and if they fall asleep on the breast.
Cradle or cross-cradle hold
With the cradle hold, the baby rests on your chest, in your arms, or on a nursing pillow facing you, belly to belly. Cradle the babys head in the crook of one arm, with your hand supporting their bottom. Its helpful to support the breast youre feeding with your other hand.
The cross-cradle hold is similar to the cradle hold, but you use your arms differently. Your baby will rest across you, belly to belly. Use one arm to support their head and the opposite arm to come around the babys back to support their head, neck, and shoulders.
The cross-cradle position allows you to have more control over how your baby latches on . Many moms find that theyre able to get their babies latched on more deeply with this hold.
These positions are the most familiar ones to moms, but it can be harder to get correct latches when using them. Make sure to provide enough support for your babys headthis is a big part of sustaining a good latch.
Underarm or football hold
Attachment To The Breast
Why attachment is important
A baby who attaches well to the breast can help prevent many breastfeeding problems. Its more likely for breastfeeding to be comfortable and for the baby to be able to remove milk well from the breast. This helps ensure a good milk supply so the baby grows well.
Sore, grazed or cracked nipples usually mean your baby is not attached properly and has damaged your nipples. A poorly attached baby is not usually taking enough milk. This can lead to a blocked duct or mastitis.
Breastfeeding natural but also learned
Breastfeeding, although natural, is also a learned skill. This is especially true in modern westernised culture.
All baby mammals have natural instincts which enable them to find their mothers breast from birth with little or no help from anyone. These instinctive behaviours include:
sticking tongue out
turning head from side to side
finding and grasping the nipple
latching-on to the breast
These instinctive behaviours are seen as early as the first 12 hours after birth and continue for at least 3 months after birth. Sometimes a mothers instincts may be reduced by drugs used during the birth or by hospital procedures such as limited or delayed skin-to-skin time. However, this can be overcome by a mother and her baby spending as much time as possible together in skin-to-skin contact. A mother can be sure that she doesnt have to know it all and that her baby is born hardwired to breastfeed.
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You Have Large Nipples
If you have large nipples, it can be harder for your newborn to latch on. Even average-sized nipples can be too big for a premature infant. For your child to latch on well, they need to be able to take the entire nipple, plus a good amount of the areola, into their mouth.
If your nipple is filling up your child’s mouth as they try to latch on, they won’t be able to grasp any of the surrounding areola along with it. Therefore, they won’t be able to effectively remove breast milk.
A nipple shield may also be helpful. When it’s placed over the nipple, the shape of the shield is smaller and easier for a baby to grasp in their mouth.
Large nipples are only an issue in the early days of breastfeeding. As your child grows, it will become easier for them to latch on directly to your breast.