Boobs of all different shapes and sizes have been feeding babies since time began.
All over the world, in many different countries and cultures, mothers are awake at this very moment breastfeeding their child.
Some are having a hard time, though, worrying about attachment and supply, while others are doing it without giving it a second thought. What’s the essential difference in these situations? The right help and understanding.
There is a veritable village of assistance, support and information available to parents to help with breastfeeding a baby; unfortunately not all ‘help’ will actually help. There’s a lot of conflicting advice and everyone has their own opinion on what you ‘should’ do. You need to keep looking and find what information is best for you. I know this from experience with my first baby. Don’t give up, though, it’s out there!
10. Chest to Chest, Chin to Breast
This is a good placement for a breastfeeding, but it’s not the first movement, it’s the end result. In between can be fiddling to get nipples, baby (with their tiny little mouth that won’t open on cue), arms, legs and chests all sorted and in place. Hang on what were we doing? Oh feeding a baby. Right, back to the start to get repositioned and by now you should have an unhappy, impatient and hungry baby that is probably about to cry and then attaching will just get harder. Sigh”¦
There’s a lot of pressure to breastfeed. There’s a lot of pressure to breastfeed ‘correctly’. How’s about we just relax and do what comes naturally?
9. Becoming Attached
Once you have a comfy spot, be it on the couch, in bed, in a café or at kindy drop off, do what feels right for you and your baby. Lower or raise your baby to your nipple height, unleash that milk machine and tickle bubs nose and lips. They should lean their head back slightly, open up their little mouth nice and wide and bingo, the nipple has landed. Most of the areola will be in their mouth and the nipple up against the roof of their mouth. Suckling feels like a gentle pulling sensation, it should not be painful in any way, if it is just insert your clean finger between your nipple and babies mouth to break the suction seal and have another go at attaching.
Prop a pillow under your elbow or baby, lean however you are comfortable and stay that way. If your bodies are not all exactly in alignment it does not matter. As long as your baby’s not on their back with their head turned at a right angle toward you (it’s uncomfortable for anyone) to have their feed, you’ll do just fine.
8. Watch Your Baby, Not The Clock
How long your baby breastfeeds for can vary greatly at times. Look for signs that they are hungry like, opening their mouth and trying to eat your neck, chest or arm, becoming restless, getting agitated or crying. The sooner you start feeding, the less worked up they get and the easier attachment and feeding will be for you both.
An average feed might take 15-20 minutes, they might fall asleep and happily drink for longer (you can hear them swallow every 5 or so sucks) or a thirsty baby may just have a little drink of foremilk as a thirst quencher on a hot day. Always offer the same breast again next feed if it is a short drink, that way bub will get the foremilk and also the rich, baby building hind milk that follows rather than changing breasts frequently after short feeds. That can result in a windy baby full of foremilk and no heavy, tummy filling hind milk to keep them satisfied.
I read that your breast will probably start out quite full and firm before a feed and then when it’s quite soft you’ll know the feed is finished. Mine were always just a bit fullish and softish and only by the milk-drunk, passed-out baby in my lap did I know it was closing time!
7. On The Level
Bringing your baby to your nipple, as mentioned before, rather taking your breast to the baby will ensure you don’t get them attached then ‘drop’ your breast. This will result in your baby doing the same thing.
Here’s what happens when you do that: Imagine someone holds a water-filled balloon to your mouth and you have to hold it in your lips (no teeth, mind) and suck some water from pin holes in it. Probably hard enough work, lest they drop it and you’re left trying to hang onto all that weight, with just your mouth, while trying to get a drink. Got a good picture now how it is for babies?
It’s easily avoided if you just move your baby to you and not the other way around.
6. Laying Down On The Job
Laying down to breastfeed is relaxing and comfy for both you and your baby. If you have large breasts or a fast flow, it can take a bit of gravitational pressure off and ease your milk flow a bit, but my favourite part of feeding laying down is the sleeping. Not having to detach, get up and put a sleeping infant down and then decide whether or not to clean the kitchen is bliss. Getting a nap with your baby in the crook of your arm is a beautiful bonding experience. Always follow safe co-sleeping guidelines, use your common sense and don’t smoke, drink booze or take sedating drugs at any time you have an infant or child in your bed and you can have some amazingly restful cuddle time.
Guidelines for co-sleeping
If you decide to co-sleep with your baby, these safety precautions can help you reduce the risk:
- Put your baby on his back to sleep (never on his tummy or side).
- Make sure your baby’s head is uncovered during sleep.
- Make sure your bed is firm. Don’t use a water bed, or anything soft underneath for example, a lamb’s wool underlay or pillows.
- Use lightweight blankets, not heavy quilts or doonas. A safe infant sleeping bag can be used instead of bedding so that your baby doesn’t share adult bedding.
- Put your baby beside one parent, not between parents, so there’s less chance of your baby slipping under the bedding.
- Put your baby where he can’t fall out of bed, but not against pillows or a wall. Babies can suffocate under pillows. And babies have died after becoming trapped between the bed and the wall.
- A side-car crib that attaches to your bed provides a separate sleeping surface but keeps your baby close for breastfeeding.
- Keep the sleep environment smoke-free.