The experience of breastfeeding is special for so many reasons, including:
- The joyful closeness and intense bonding with your baby that occurs during breastfeeding
- The specific nutrition only you can provide for your newborn
- The cost savings
- The incredible health benefits for you and your baby
The decision to breastfeed is a personal one. As a new mom, you deserve support no matter how you decide to feed your baby. You should not be made to feel guilty if you cannot or choose not to breastfeed. In this section, you can learn more about breastfeeding. You also can find tips and suggestions to help you successfully breastfeed, whether you decide to breastfeed for two weeks, two years, or more.
Although you are physically equipped to breastfeed your baby, you may not feel emotionally or physically ready – especially if you encounter problems. Trying to comfort a crying, hungry baby who isn’t latching on can be heartbreaking. It’s important to remember that most nursing difficulties occur during the first six weeks while everyone is learning feeding patterns. The majority of difficulties can be easily remedied, and as the weeks go by, you will become more relaxed and confident.
Nursing – A good latch-on is KEY
Getting your baby to “latch” on properly takes some practice and can be a source of frustration for you and your baby. One approach to learning to breastfeeding is a more relaxed, baby-led latch. Sometimes called biological nurturing, laid-back breastfeeding, or baby-led breastfeeding, this style of breastfeeding allows your baby to lead and follow his or her instincts to suck.
The steps below can help your newborn latch on to the breast to start sucking when he or he is ready. Letting your baby begin the process of searching for the breast may take some of the pressure off of you and keeps the baby calm and relaxed.
Keep in mind that there is no one way to start breastfeeding. As long as the baby is latched on well, how you get there is up to you.
- Create a calm environment first. Recline on pillows or other comfortable area. Make sure you are relaxed and calm.
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin. Hold your baby, wearing only a diaper, against your bare chest. Hold the baby upright between your breasts and just enjoy your baby for a while with no thoughts of breastfeeding.
- Let your baby lead. If your baby is not hungry, he will stay curled up against your chest. If your baby is hungry, he will bob his head against you, try to make eye contact, and squirm around.
- Support your baby, but don’t force the latch. Support his head and shoulders as he searches for your breast. Avoid the temptation to help him latch on.
- Allow your breast to hang naturally. When your baby’s chin hits your breast, the firm pressure makes her open her mouth wide and reach up and over the nipple. As she presses her chin into the breast and opens her mouth, she should get a deep latch. Keep in mind that your baby can breathe at the breast. The nostrils flare to allow air in.
If you have tried the “baby-led” approach and your baby is still having problems latching on, try these tips:
- Tickle the baby’s lips with your nipple to encourage him or her to open wide.
- Pull your baby close so that the baby’s chin and lower jaw moves in to your breast.
- Watch the lower lip and aim it as far from the base of the nipple as possible so that the baby takes a large mouthful of breast.
For information on how to donate breast milk please see The King’s Daughters milk bank brochure.
For more information, examples of breastfeeding “holds” and specific hints please visit Women’s Health.GOV