Breastfeeding Positions For Ultimate Comfort & Safety

Breastfeeding Positions For Ultimate Comfort & Safety

Breastfeeding is a learning process. The baby has to learn to drink at the breast, and you have to learn to give her your breast. Although the process of breastfeeding is technically the same with every breastfed baby, in reality every baby is different. Naturally your baby's temperament and uniqueness should be respected and validated from the very beginning.

Some babies drink timidly, while others suck so strongly it is almost painful for the mother at first. Some babies wolf down their milk so quickly they spit up some of it afterward. Your baby might spread out her meal over a whole hour and take frequent breaks. Or she might play a game with your nipple before she begins to drink in earnest. You have no choice but to learn to accept your child the way she is. Ideally an infant should drink to her own tempo. Eventually she will establish her very own rhythm.

By helping your baby find her own rhythm and allowing her to live by it, you are laying an important foundation for her entire life. Try to learn about your child's rhythm - respect and support her in it. Let your baby lead you, while you remain interested and easy-going about it. You may gently coax your baby, but don't be domineering. Your relationship with this little person will continue long past the breastfeeding period. Try to create a relationship founded on respect and tolerance from the start.

Breastfeeding Basics

Incorrect positioning is the primary cause of many breastfeeding problems -such as sore nipples, insufficient milk supply, disturbed milk-ejection reflex and a gassy baby. Therefore, putting the baby to the breast correctly can prevent these problems. Here's how:

Get Comfortable: Comfort is important when you breastfeed. Make sure the arm on which the baby is lying is supported, perhaps on the armrest of a chair or couch. You should be able to relax your arm completely. Support your back with pillows. Tension, especially in the shoulders or shoulder blades, interferes with milk flow. If you breastfeed sitting up, put a small footstool under your feet and a pillow on your knees to relieve pressure on your arm. You can buy special nursing pillows, too. A rocking chair with broad armrests and a cushion can be ideal for breastfeeding. If you have had an episiotomy, sitting on a child's swimming ring lets you sit and breastfeed more or less pain-free.

Maybe your partner would like to sit behind you. He can cuddle or support your back so you can devote yourself to breastfeeding. Of course, he has to look out for his own well-being too by having something to lean on himself; otherwise he'll feel uncomfortable and then you will, too.

If you ever breastfeed while standing, plant yourself this way: Set your feet about a foot apart and consciously relax your shoulders. Your partner might cradle your shoulder caps with his hands or place the palms of his hands on your shoulder blades or shoulders, You might want to take just a minute to close your eyes, "listen" to your breath, and become centered and peaceful inside before you breastfeed.

Put Baby to Your Breast: Take your baby in your arms with his front lying horizontally across your body, facing toward you from his head to his feet. In this way his head will lie in the crook of your arm; his lower arm will be at your waist. Let the hand with which you hold your baby safely cup and support his bottom or thigh. Pull your baby close to you so he is in the best position to find your nipple.

Lift your breast with your other hand: Arrange your fingers under your breast, your palm to the side and your thumb above. Rest your fingers outside the areola because your baby must be able to grasp quite a bit of it. When you hold your breast this way, you can "tickle" his lower lip with your nipple easily. He will turn toward you and open his mouth wide.

Be patient if you have to tickle for a while. If you press the baby's head firmly against your breast, he will not recognize this as stimulation and will not open his mouth. Or he will get confused and turn toward the pressure on his head. He will also tend to arch away.

Sooner or later your baby will open his mouth wide, like a hungry baby bird. This is the moment to place your nipple, which should be waiting exactly in front of his open mouth, right in the middle, above his tongue. At the same time, pull him in close to you so the tip of his nose touches your breast (he will still be able to breathe) and his knees touch your body. His gums will be able to grasp far behind the nipple to reach the areola.

With a good latch, he can reach the milk reservoirs underneath the areola and suck the milk toward the nipple effectively. Your baby will draw your nipple to the back of his mouth, elongating both nipple and areola. If you think he can't breathe freely, pull his bottom closer to you or lift your breast a little with the hand that is supporting it.

Don't press with your finger or thumb on the spot where your baby's nose is. You might pull out the nipple or make it slip so it gets uneven pressure on one side. That can make your nipple sore. Also, you may compress a milk duct this way.

Sore nipples can also happen if the baby sucks while his body faces the ceiling and he has to turn his head to the side. Just imagine yourself drinking with your head turned completely to the side! Ear, shoulder, and upper arm should form a straight line.

If your baby gets a bottle from time to time (which requires completely different mouth movements and much less of the baby's initiative), he may only open his mouth wide enough to grasp your nipple when he is back on your breast, instead of the nipple and areola. This position easily leads to sore nipples. In addition, many bottle-supplemented babies become nipple-confused and have all the breastfeeding problems that go along with that. If you will return to work outside the home, and your baby needs to receive your milk from a bottle, it's best to wait at least until your milk supply is established and your baby is sucking with ease.

If your breast is too full and your baby has difficulty grasping your nipple, express a little milk in a warm bath or shower before the next feed. If he has difficulty getting milk out of your breasts at first, use massage and nurturing touch to help stimulate the let-down reflex. You can also activate the let-down reflex by centering and focusing your total awareness on your breasts.