When we think about a breastfeeding mother, the first image that comes to our minds is a mother sitting on a comfortable chair, happily looking at her child, calmly feeding in her arms. But those who have breastfed a child know that many times, especially in the beginning while you are still establishing a latch, the picture is not as happy and calm as it seems. This article will discuss breastfeeding techniques to help new moms achieve that comfortable and calm phase in their breastfeeding journey.
Infant Feeding Cues
Before discussing breastfeeding tips and breastfeeding techniques, one of the first thumb rules to remember for new moms is that feeding when your baby is hungry is essential. Thus, you would need to identify your baby's hunger cues to be able to feed effectively. When hungry, your baby will(1):
◾ Licking the lips
◾ Sucking the thumb or hand
◾ Making sucking movements with lips in the air
◾ Bobbing its head against your neck or shoulder or the mattress
◾ If extremely hungry, then crying
Babies do not start crying at the initial phase when they feel hungry. If you fail to identify these hunger cues and do not feed them, they will be extremely hungry or starving and start crying.
How To Get Started With Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing for new mothers, but it does need a bit of guidance for both the new mom and the newborn baby. Thus, these tips on breastfeeding and getting started will come in handy for you.
- 1. Ensure you eat healthy, as certain foods can help you establish a good breastmilk supply. Read about Healthy Foods To Increase Breastmilk Supply HERE.
- 2. The position where you sit while feeding and your comfort are also fundamental breastfeeding techniques. Use pillows and position yourself comfortably. If you position your spine in an awkward position while sitting or lying down for feeding, it will create discomfort and can result in backaches in the long run.
- 3. Keep yourself hydrated. Lack of hydration in the body can lead to a low milk supply. And if your milk supply is low, no matter which breastfeeding techniques you pick, the breastfeeding journey might not be smooth for you and your baby.
Most Effective Breastfeeding Positions & Holds
There are many positions and holds that are best for breastfeeding techniques. Which one you choose depends on the comfort of your and your baby. Here are some of the most effective positions and holds to choose from:
- Cradle Hold – Also known as chest feeding position, Cradle Hold is one of the most traditional breastfeeding techniques. It is easy because you need to use just one hand, and the other hand is free to hold the breast and give your baby a better grip and latch. You put your baby's head on the arm and their body and bum on your lap. This hold is known as cradle hold.
- Football Hold – Also known as the rugby hold, this position is best and the most convenient for mothers who have delivered a baby via c-section. Using a feeding pillow or a regular soft pillow, you hold the baby's neck with your hand and fingers while the baby is lying down on your side. You can clearly see the baby and the latch in this position, thus ensuring that they are latching well in the initial days.
- Side-Lying Position – As a new mother, you need to rest well. But if you have to sit up 8 – 12 times a day to feed your baby, you might not be able to lie down or rest for longer durations at one go. That is where this position and breastfeeding techniques for tired and exhausted mothers help you. While you are lying down, ensure that there is no pillow or blanket on your side and there is a plain surface for your baby to rest on. Position your baby's tummy to tummy on your side and feed them while you also get the much-required rest.
- Dangle Position – As the name suggests, the dangle position is among the breastfeeding techniques where your breast dangles over your baby's face while the baby lays over its back. This position is recommended when you have a plugged duct and gravity helps drain your breast.
- Cross Cradle Hold – Similar to the cradle hold, the Cross Cradle Hold gives your baby a little extra grip and support. Just like cradle hold, you place your baby's head on the arm on the breast's side from which you want to feed the back. You use the second arm to hold your baby's back or bum for more support. This is one of those breastfeeding techniques that help you when the baby is wiggly while feeding or is on the chubby side and needs extra hold.
- Laid Back Feeding – This is usually the first position where you and your baby will touch and bond right after birth. Lie down on a comfortable bed, recliner or sofa with your back reclined upwards. Place the baby on your chest and let your baby's biological instinct to feed kick in.
- Upright Hold – As your baby grows a little older and gains neck and back control, this position is best suited for them. Make your baby sit on your lap while comfortably seated on a sofa or a chair. You may support your baby's back or neck with your arm. This is also among breastfeeding techniques best suited for kids with reflux who have trouble keeping up with the milk flow.
- Breastfeeding In A Carrier – A very convenient method while using a sling and when out, breastfeeding in a carrier is among breastfeeding techniques that makes nursing in public discreet and easy. All you need to do is loosen the sling, take the breast out and let the baby feed while still comfortably seated inside the carrier.
Useful Techniques For Getting A Good Breastfeeding Latch-on
It might take a few attempts to get the perfect latch with your baby while breastfeeding them. Here are some useful latching breastfeeding techniques for you and your baby:
- ◾ Your baby's mouth should cover both your nipple and areola in a correct latch. Ensure that this happens while your baby tries to latch.
- ◾ If your baby doesn't open the mouth when you bring the breast near their mouth, squeeze a few drops on their lips to give them a cue.
- ◾ If your baby moves away from your breast, you can stimulate their rooting reflex. Gently stroke or tap the cheek that is towards your breast. Babies move their faces towards the stimulus and start the sucking motions. This will help them establish a latch.
- ◾ Hold the babies up and bring them closer to your breast instead of leaning over and getting your breast to them.
- ◾ A perfect latch will have a rhythm and three steps – suck, swallow, breathe… and repeat. Keep a check from time to time that they are doing this.
- ◾ At least for the initial few days, ensure that the baby latches properly with the whole mouth and not just sucking on their lower lip or tongue.
How Long & Often Should One Breastfeed
It is recommended that you exclusively breastfeed for at least the first six months or till you start with solids for your baby. But many mothers continue the breastfeeding journey and wean off the baby much later. So, it entirely depends on you and your child.
Each breastfeeding session would typically last for 20 – 30 minutes. But again, all babies are different, and the feeding duration per session might also differ. Feed till your baby feels full. There are no chances of overfeeding a breastfed baby. Sometimes, they might even cluster feed for hours when they are going through a growth spurt. Let your baby decide how often and for how long to feed them.
Ideally, babies would breastfeed 8 – 12 times in 24 hours. As long as their pee count is as suggested by their pediatrician, there is nothing you should be worried about.
Breastfeeding Tips For New Mothers
Here are some additional quick tips that can be an addition to these breastfeeding techniques:
- ◾ Initially, if your baby is finding it difficult to latch, use your hand to cup your breast in a C shape.
- ◾ You can also use your fingers to press the nipple gently and place it in your baby's mouth and press it to start the flow.
- ◾ Always ensure that your baby's head is turned towards your breast. If your nipples are cracked or bleeding, something is not working right. Talk to a lactation consultant to help you figure out the mistake.
For every baby, and at different stages, there can be other things that work for you and your baby. Thus, learning various positions and breastfeeding techniques can come as a blessing. Experiment with each one and see which works best for you. If you still cannot find a perfect latch or face issues, reach out to a lactation consultant.