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Tips for successful breastfeeding

mom breastfeeding her baby

Key Points:

  1. Breastfeeding requires patience and practice, and it is recommended to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible during the process.
  2. Different breastfeeding positions can be tried, such as the cradle, cross-cradle or football positions, to find one that is comfortable for both mother and baby.
  3. Good back support, using a nursing pillow, and keeping hydrated help make breastfeeding successful.
  4. It is important to hold the baby close to the breast, help them latch on properly to the areola, verify their mouth is closed, and use a pinky finger to separate from the breast once done.

Breastfeeding is a learning process that requires patience and practice. Experts recommend you try to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible, since this will help your baby feel calm too. Likewise, as long as you and your baby are comfortable, feel free to choose to breastfeed standing, sitting or lying down.

If you choose to sit, you can try different breastfeeding positions, such as the cradle hold (baby positioned in front of you with his head resting on your forearm), cross-cradle (baby in front of you, but held with the arm opposite to the feeding breast) or in a football position (as if you were carrying a football on your side). Whatever positions you choose just make sure that your baby’s whole body is close to yours.

According to La Leche League, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other experts the following steps will help make breastfeeding successful:

  1. Make yourself comfortable assuring your back is fully supported. Having good back support will allow you to rest your baby on your body and not carry all his weight on your forearm.
  2. Place a nursing pillow on your lap to help prevent arm pain. If you wish, you can place your feet on a foot stool to give your whole body support. For a hands free experience, you can also carry your little one in an appropriate baby carrier.
  3. While breastfeeding, sip on a nutritional drink such as water, juice or milk and remember to keep hydrated as fluids help with milk production.
  4. Hold your baby close to your breast and place him perpendicular to the orientation of your areola.
  5. Make sure that your baby’s nose and chin are facing your areola, and his nose and the area between nose and mouth are facing your nipple.
  6. When your baby opens his mouth, bring him close to the breast (if he doesn’t open his mouth, gently touch his cheek or lower lip with your finger or nipple to awaken his suction reflex). By this point your baby’s body should be up against your body.
  7. Let your baby approach your breast rather than taking the breast towards him. Use your free arm to give extra support to your breast, squeezing it like a hamburger to make the latch easier.
  8. Once your baby has latched on to your breast, verify that his mouth is closed around the areola, not the nipple as this can cause drying and cracking.
  9. When done or when you wish to separate your baby from the breast, wait for him to stop sucking and then slide your pinky finger on his lips and gums. Don’t separate your baby if he is still latched on, as the suction is very strong and can hurt you and cause pain to your breast.

How did you feel? You may need to repeat the above steps to be sure the baby adheres well to your breast. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to breastfeed on your first attempt; both your baby and you are learning. Just keep practicing!

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