How to Breastfeed
Before my son was born, I didn’t know how to breastfeed. I was busy leafing through baby magazines and imagining my baby snuggling up against me. So natural, so sweet…. Then he was born and the truth hit me: breastfeeding, especially during the first 2 months is not cozy, sweet. It’s hard and it hurts.
Most women imagine that breastfeeding will happen naturally. After all, women have been breastfeeding their babies since the beginning of humankind. Babies are hungry and mothers have milk: what partnership could be more perfect?
As it turns out, there’s much to know about how to breastfeed, and most new mothers are clueless as to what to expect. More and more people live away from their extended families so knowledge from mothers and aunts is not quickly available. To make matters worst, many women today were bottled-fed as babies. So their mothers are not particularly knowledgeable even if they were living under the same roof.
First time mom’s should stop dreaming about cozy babies snuggled up against their bosom. It’s best to learn about how to breastfeed so that you can have a successful breastfeeding experience. Try to:
• get one or more books about breastfeeding before Baby is born,
• go to a How To Breastfeed class, or
• attend a childbirth class which includes a session on how to breastfeed.
Here’s a quick lesson on How To Breastfeed:
How to Breastfeed: Holding Your Baby
This may seem trivial, but once you’ve read the options below, you will know that it is not trivial at all. There are at least 5 ways to hold your baby while he nurses and it is good to be familiar with 3 or more positions. Why is this necessary?
- Once you’ve started breastfeeding, your nipples will soon feel sore. Holding your baby in different positions will prevent the same part of your nipple being worn-down.
- Feeding your baby using different holds will also help empty-out all the milk ducts (emptying out helps prevent breast infections).
- And finally, holding your baby in different positions will allow parts of your arms, back, and body to rest. Remember, a newborn can nurse 10 times a day so changing positions may circumvent stiffness.
1. Cradle Hold
The cradle hold is probably the most popular way to hold your baby while he drinks from your breast. Most photos of mother & baby pairs will show the baby being held with the cradle hold.
Here, your baby’s head is supported by the crook of your right elbow as he nurses from the right breast. If your baby is heavy, your left arm may be under your right arm for extra support. If you are trying to encourage let down, or trying to empty plugged ducts, then your left hand can massage the right breast as the baby is nursing. If you’re an expert, then your left hand is free to hold a book while you read.
The key here is that right arm will support the baby when you are feeding from the right breast.
2. Cross Cradle Hold (Crossover Hold)
The cross cradle hold is especially useful for young infants who have not figured out how to breastfeed yet.
When feeding on the right breast, the weight of the baby will be supported by the left arm. The left hand will hold the baby’s head and guide it towards the right breast. It’s called the cross cradle because you use your left arm to hold the baby while he nurses on the right breast.
To feed from the left breast, you will hold the baby with your right arm and the right hand will position the baby’s head onto the left breast.
Again, the free hand will either hold & position the breast or massage the breast to encourage let-down.
3. Football Hold
As amazing as it may sound, this hold requires that you hold your baby like a football. To feed on the right breast, you will clasp Baby’s torso under your right armpit. His legs will not be visible since they will extend behind you. Use your right hand to position Baby’s head to your right breast.
To feed from the left breast, hold Baby’s torso under your left armpit and use your left hand to position Baby’s head onto your left breast.
I often forget to use the football hold because I don’t see this position very often. But the football hold works and it’s a lifesaver when your nipples are exhausted. The football hold is recommended for women who have had a C-section because the baby does not lie across your belly.
To feed on the right breast, you will lie down on a soft but firm surface like a firm mattress. Lie so that you are on your right side and your right breast is closest to the mattress. Place Baby beside you so that his body and face is pointed towards you (belly to belly, face to face). Bring Baby closer and allow him to latch on to the breast that is closest to the mattress (in this case, the right breast).
To feed on the left side, lie on your left with the left breast closest to the mattress. Place baby beside you so that his face and body is facing towards you.
Moms who have had a C-section can use this hold since it allows her feed Baby while resting in bed. This hold is great for middle-of-the-night feedings too. You can feed your baby but remain lying down. Mom’s love this hold because it gives them an excuse to lie down in the middle of the day to feed the baby.
5. Australian Hold
This hold is sometimes recommended when a mother has too much milk or the flow of milk is too fast. There are two ways to do the Australian Hold
- Reclined position: Lie in a reclined position or lie flat on your back and place baby on top of you facing towards you. Position Baby so that his head is level with your breast and start breastfeeding.
- Sitting up: Your baby sits on your lap, facing you, and straddling on one of your legs. You hold the back of the baby’s neck to support his head while he latches-on and drinks. Use pillows if Baby is not tall enough to reach your breasts. Because Baby is sitting up, gravity helps the milk find its way down Baby’s throat. Also because Baby’s mouth is level with your breast, the milk does not come gushing down as quickly.
Because you are reclined backwards or lying down, gravity will help your milk come out slower and there will be less chances of Baby gagging on excess milk.
Now it’s time to learn the other half of the How to Breastfeed story: how baby holds you.
- How Baby should hold you (latch-on)
- How long to Breastfeed your Baby
- when and how to wean your baby
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