Despite the fact that the baby has instincts and reflexes to latch onto mother’s breast, sometimes breastfeeding can be problematic and challenging initially especially if the new mom has no idea of latching techniques. Breast feeding seems like a natural thing to many, but for some it can take some time to learn the art of breast feeding.
The word “latch” basically implies the way a baby takes the breast into his or her mouth. If a baby cannot latch properly, breast feeding not only could be painful for the mother (as the chances of developing cracked and sore nipple increase) but also the baby may not get sufficient milk. Taking a few small steps will teach both you and your baby the correct way to latch for a pain-free, successful nursing session.
Tips to make breastfeeding easier and comfortable
Here are some of the steps that may help you and your baby to breastfeed more easily and comfortably.
Start as early as possible
The earlier you begin feeding the baby, the more likely you’ll be to take advantage of your infant’s natural abilities to latch on, making the process easier for both of you, and also for maintaining the breast milk production.
Recognize the signs of bad latching
It will be difficult for new mothers to recognize whether or not the baby is latching well. Here are the signs that will help you to recognise the bad latching:
- Experiencing pain in nipple while nursing. Pain in nipple indicates the baby is chewing the nipple instead of latching properly
- Hearing clicking or smacking noises as the baby tries to suck
- The baby is sucking in her cheeks as he as she tries to breastfeed. Likewise, you may hear the sound of swallowing
- After feeding the baby if you find a wrinkle over your areola or a descending tilt to the tip of the nipple
- After you breastfeed your child, the baby appears unhappy and frustrated, and keeps on hinting he or she is still hungry
- Your infant is not gaining weight as required
If you notice the indications of a poor latch while feeding your baby, you should slowly and gently break the latch by removing the child from the breast and help the baby to latch properly.
Signs that a baby is latched properly to the breast
Here are the signs that your baby is latching well:
- The baby’s tongue being on the underside of mother’s breast
- Feeling a drawing sensation in your breast
- Baby’s chin and nose touch the breast while latching
- After each feeding, the baby appears to be happy, energetic, and pleased and the breasts feel empty and soft after nursing
- You can hear your baby swallow while he is feeding
Recognize hunger cues
When babies are hungry, they will start to show signs way before they cry. Infact, crying for milk is the last resort your baby has to make you feed her. If you miss that cue the baby will start to cry and will be distressed. In fact, a fussy baby can make latching more difficult. It is always best to nurse your baby on early cues of hunger. This includes:
- Babies tend to lick their lips when they are hungry
- They take their hands to the mouth repeatedly
- Sucking on the hands and fingers
- They may move their mouths to any body part of yours that’s touching them
- A hungry baby tries to get in the position for feeding
- A hungry baby is often fidgety and finicky
- Crying, which is that last sign of hunger
If the baby always wakes up crying, it is probably a sign of hunger, provided she is changed and is not facing any other issue. In such instances, feed the baby when they show signs of waking up.
How to find a comfortable position for breastfeeding a baby?
Getting yourself comfortable is the foremost thing you have to do for a successful breastfeeding experience.
- You can opt for using a breastfeeding pillow if you like, or you can use as much as pillows you want to support your arms, head, and neck
- You can also use a comfortable chair with a proper back support. In that case, use a stool to rest your feet
- Sit in a good posture that will put no strain your neck and shoulder. Keep in mind that you have to remain in the same posture for a fair amount of time
- While breastfeeding, the baby should be touching his tummy with yours
- Do not bend yourself to place the nipple in the baby’s mouth. Bring the baby towards yourself and place the nipple in his mouth
- The baby’s nose should be touching the nipple, directly being opposite
- During the earlier stages, you may need to hold your breast in a “C” or a “U” hold to guide the baby to the nipple
- When breastfeeding, the baby’s head should be titled slightly back – so that his neck is not bent and chin is not touching the chest. This will make swallowing easier for the baby
- The area around the nipple, the areola, should be placed in the baby’s mouth – as much as you can
- The baby’s lips should look like fish lips- being protruding out on the breast
Positions for effective and successful breastfeeding
Successful breastfeeding involves holding the baby as such that he does not have to turn or bend his neck as he sucks milk. You may have to try a variety of positions to make sure your baby is in a comfortable one. Here are four most popular and famous breastfeeding positions to choose from while nursing your baby. Select one which suits you and your baby.
Cross Cradle position
- Sit comfortably in a chair with armrests. Bring your baby towards the front of your body. Maintain tummy to tummy position
- Use your opposite arm to support the baby, and the same side arm to support your breast. That is, if you are feeding from the right breast, hold the baby (support the back of the baby’s head correctly) in the left hand and vice versa. With the other hand, support your breast from beneath in a U-shaped hold
- Cross cradle position is a very useful and ideal position during the initial weeks of breast feeding, especially for the new mother, as it allows the mother to use her both hands effectively
- This position is ideal for babies with latching issues
- This is the most popular position among mothers
- Here, you have to hold the baby with the arm of the same side of the breast of which you are feeding from. Cradle the baby in such a way that the baby’s head rests comfortably in the bending of the elbow. This is how it differs from the cross-cradle position
- It is the position you can try after a couple of weeks, once you are more poised
- Football position for breastfeeding is ideal for mothers who have delivered via a C-section. It also helps if you have larger breasts or are uncomfortable with the baby’s weight on your abdomen
- In a football position, with the help of a pillow, place your baby under your arm. Because the baby is under your arm, on the same side that you are nursing from, the baby’s feet should be directed to your back
- The baby’s upper back will get the support from your forearm, while your pal will hold the baby’s head
- Support your breast in a C-shaped hold with your other hand. If you are sitting on a chair or the baby’s feet is touching something that may make him push it, fold his legs at the knees
- While sleeping, side lying position is best to breastfeed a baby. It also is ideal if you are tired to sit in upright position. It is also a comfortable position for moms having C-section
- Lie down on your side. With the help of pillow or blanket, slightly turn the baby towards you so that his chest and tummy always faces you. The nose must be in line with the nipple
- However, this position should be tried only after the baby has comfortable taken to nursing for some time
In any case, remember that breastfeeding is a beautiful experience and does not need to be painful. A baby who is not latched well will remain hungry, and you would develop other issues like cracked and sore nipples. If you are unable to get the baby to breastfeed properly, seek help from a lactation consultant.