It is not difficult to learn how to breastfeed. A woman’s body was created to breastfeed her baby. Breastfeeding is so natural, that we’ve been doing it for millions of years. (Think about it…without it, the humans would not have survived.)
However, for some women, the first few days or weeks of breastfeeding can be quite challenging. Here are some breastfeeding tips to establish a good breastfeeding supply right from the beginning.
You will be successful and enjoy the experience if you prepare for breastfeeding, have the proper support and you and your baby get a little practice.
Breastfeeding comes naturally to some, while others have to work at it in the first hours or days after birth. Either way, it helps to know the basic technique for getting the baby to latch to your nipple properly. The stronger the latch, the more satisfying the feeding session will be for you both. All mothers will discover feeding positions they find the most comfortable, but the following steps can be followed in the beginning.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to breastfeed and get a proper latch:
Find a comfortable position where the baby is facing directly into your breast. You can start with propping the baby up on a regular or breastfeeding pillow, with their body going out underneath your arm. Wrap a hand behind the baby’s head so you can easily move them towards and away from your body. You can experiment with other positions once the baby becomes a latching pro.
(For a discussion of favorite breastfeeding holds, click here.)
2. Move the baby toward you, close enough to reach their mouth with your nipple.
3. Use your nipple to encourage the baby to open their mouth wide. The mouth needs to be open as wide as possible to fully latch on. The easiest way to get them to open is to hold your nipple between your thumb and forefinger, and then touch it to the baby’s lips gently. Running it over the baby’s mouth a couple times should convince them to open, but a sleepy baby may take a bit longer.
4. The moment you see the baby’s mouth open wide, move them toward the nipple, so it goes into their mouth. Never lean over the baby or push your breast into their mouth. It should always be the baby moving toward and over the nipple.
5. The baby’s mouth should close over the nipple, and they should start to feed. For some babies, this will be all you need to do for a proper feeding. For others, you may need to break the latch and start over until it is done properly. You do not want to encourage improper latching habits, as it can hurt you breast and affect the nourishment of the baby.
Just remember, to latch your baby on to your breast properly, his mouth will need to be as wide open as possible as he comes onto the breast. His tongue, bottom lip and chin should touch your breast first, and you should aim his bottom lip as far as you can from the base of your nipple. This will help him to get a good mouthful of breast tissue when he starts to feed.
If you feel any pain, the baby seems to have trouble getting milk, or the lips are not fully opened around the nipple, the latch is not proper and should be started over.
Watch a Breastfeeding Video
Here is a great breastfeeding video “how to breastfeed” advice and encouragement from a lactation consultant.
If you are still pregnant, there are some ways to prepare for breastfeeding to give yourself the confidence to know that when you finally meet your new little sweetie, you will be able to breastfeed with ease. Here are some articles to help.
- Prepare for Breastfeeding
- Tips on Getting the Best Start
- Breastfeeding Myths and the Truth Behind Them
- How to Know if Your Baby is Getting Enough
- Learn the Many Benefits of Breastfeeding