Breastfeeding is an ideal way to nourish your baby, as breast milk contains all of the fat and nutrients your baby needs to gain weight, as well as antibodies that will protect him or her from illness. Although breastfeeding is a natural process, many women don’t realize that the technique is not always intuitive and that lactation consultants can provide helpful guidance, including help with:
Before nursing, make sure that you are in a comfortable position with back and arm support. Bring your baby toward your breast, keeping his or her ears, shoulders, and hips aligned. Avoid leaning over your baby, as this can strain your back and lead to breast soreness.
Choosing a Position
There are a variety of ways you can support your baby during nursing, so experiment to see which methods feel most comfortable and natural. Very young babies are easily held in the cross-cradle position, where the child rests on pillows in your lap and nurses from the opposite breast of the arm holding his or her head. Mothers who have had a cesarean section may be more comfortable with the football hold, which holds the baby on the same side as the breast being used.
It’s important to switch breasts halfway through each feeding and begin on the alternate side from where you left off the previous time. This will help you avoid plugged milk ducts and ensure that your baby gets adequate nutrition.
Showing your baby that you anticipate his or her needs by recognizing early signs of hunger and providing regular feedings can strengthen your bond. Nursing every couple hours for 5-15 minutes on each side will keep your baby comfortable and help him or her get on a schedule. Note that babies resort to crying once they are extremely hungry, so try to observe your child for more subtle signs of hunger, such as searching for a nipple or sucking on items.
Riverside Community Hospital offers a free breastfeeding clinic to provide support and education to new mothers in the Riverside area, and has received international recognition as a Baby-Friendly birth facility by Baby-Friendly USA. Call (951) 788-3000 for 24-hour over-the-phone assistance.