Those first weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest weeks in the life of your baby. You have to feed so frequently that you get little sleep. Moreover, the frequent feedings are tough on your body. You may experience sore nipples, nipple infections, or just a sensory overload. However, making sure your baby is properly positioned for feeding is the key to preventing some of these problems before they occur.
With any position you choose, there are a few basic things you should do to ensure optimal comfort and feeding for both you and your baby. Remember that these steps are not exclusive. You may have to repeat them frequently as both you and your baby get the hang of things. First, be sure you are comfortable before you start a feeding. You will want support for your back, your arms, and your feet. This is best done with pillows and a footrest. Most people will discover an optimal place to nurse. Some women find the recliner in their living room to be most comfortable while others find the rocker in the nursery to be most comfortable. Whatever you find to work for you, stick with it. It will certainly save you some hassle in the long run.
Once you’ve ensured that you are as comfortable as possible, be sure the baby is close to you. You might even want to have someone bring you the baby after you get comfortable in your nursing location. The baby should not have to turn his or her head to reach you. The baby’s mouth and nose should be facing your breast. The next step in the process is to support your breast. You don’t want the flesh to press against your baby’s chin. The baby’s chin should push into you, not the other way around. The best way to support your breast is to make a “U” or a “C” with your hand and cup it around your breast, depending upon the position you are in. The final step in the process is to get the baby to latch onto your breast. In the early weeks, you will need to encourage the baby to open his or her mouth as wide as possible. Support the baby’s back, not his head. Your hand should be like a second neck for the baby. Once you are sure your baby is latched well, nurse as long as the baby wants to. If you feel any sort of pain, you have a bad latch. Detach the baby, and try again. During the first six weeks, try not to get discouraged. It can be tough to get a solid start on nursing. The position below might help.
One position that might help you and your baby form a better nursing relationship is the cradle position. This is, by far, the most popular position. Hold your baby in the crook of your arm. Be sure to support your arm with a nursing pillow. As you look down, you should be able to see your baby’s side. Be sure he or she doesn’t have to turn to reach your nipple. Remember that the baby should be level with your nipple. You shouldn’t have to bend down to reach your baby’s mouth. Support your breast and guide it into the baby’s mouth. The baby’s mouth should cover at least a half an inch of your areola.
The best first step to breastfeeding is good positioning. It can help to form a long term nursing relationship with your child.