Newborns Breastfeeding Technique

Breastfeeding your child is a wonderful, bonding experience. Developing a technique or style that is comfortable for both mother and baby is important. Many hospitals and pediatricians offer education on breastfeeding through lactation consultants. They can help with concerns about feeding schedules, positioning and optimizing a mother’s nutrition while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Positions Encourage Comfort

Comfortable positioning is a very important part of breastfeeding. Poor positioning can lead to sore nipples or tired muscles. The mother breastfeeds her infant several times a day, so she should take her time and relax. Skin to skin contact helps stimulate the baby’s reflex to nurse.

Basic Breastfeeding Positions

Your labor and delivery nurse or lactation consultant will help you find the most comfortable position for nursing.

  • Cradle Position: In this breastfeeding position, the baby is cradled in the mother’s arm with his head resting on the mother’s forearm just below the elbow. The mother’s forearm supports the baby’s body. Mother and baby are tummy to tummy and the baby faces the mother’s breast. The mother supports her breast with the opposite hand.
  • Cross Cradle Position: The positioning of the baby is the same as with the cradle position, but his head and body are supported with the mother’s opposite hand and forearm (right breast, left arm). The breast is supported with the same side hand. This position is often used successfully in the first few weeks of nursing as it allows the mother more control.
  • Football Position: With the baby’s legs and feet tucked under the mother’s arm and his head held in his mother’s hand it’s easy to see why this breastfeeding position is called a football hold. The baby’s back is supported by the mother’s arm. The mother’s opposite hand cradles and supports the breast. Many women who have had a C-section find nursing in this position very comfortable.
  • Side-Lying Position: Also a good breastfeeding position for women who’ve had a cesarean section, the lying down position is a good one for nighttime nursing. The mother lies on her side with the baby facing her, their bodies parallel, his head at breast-height and cradled on his mother’s upper arm. Her forearm supports his back and her opposite hand supports her breast.

BreastfeedingThe Rooting Reflex and Latching On

Babies are born with some instinctive reflexes. One of these reflexes is called the rooting reflex. A light touch to the baby’s cheek or lips will signal the baby to open his mouth. Cradling the baby in her arms, the mother can bring the baby’s open mouth forward onto her breast.

The baby should latch on or grasp the nipple and outer areola into the mouth. The latch on reflex is another natural reflex for the baby. Pediatricians often test the latching reflex by putting their little finger into the baby’s mouth. If the baby latches onto the finger, the pediatrician is confident that the latching reflex is adequate for expressing milk from the breast.

When the baby has finished nursing, suction can be released by inserting a finger between the baby’s gums and the mother’s breast without unnecessary pulling or tugging of the nipple.

Frequent Feedings and Nipple Soreness

Achieving the correct breastfeeding position early on can prevent future nipple soreness or infections. If the entire nipple and areola are not centered in the baby’s mouth, though, the baby may be unable to latch on or the mother may experience pain in the nipple. In the first two weeks after the baby is home, feeding may be as frequent as eight to twelve times a day. If the baby is latched on incorrectly, this can produce significant pain in the mother’s nipple. Extreme nipple soreness can lead to the excess build-up of milk known as engorgement. Engorgement makes the breast tight and sore and the milk cannot flow freely. Prolonged engorgement can lead to other problems like clogged ducts and mastitis.

Feeling comfortable with breastfeeding may take some time. Once the mother finds the right position for herself and her baby, other concerns disappear and then she can begin to feel the bond that mothers talk about.

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. (updated 2003). Breast feeding: Hints to help you get off to a good start.

American Academy of Pediatrics. (updated 2004). A woman’s guide to breastfeeding.