8 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding

Our lactation expert shares her best tips on establishing breastfeeding

Breastfeeding tips
Breastfeeding tips

1. Remember that babies are born knowing how to breastfeed. Your baby’s breastfeeding skills will be at their best if you can minimize the medication (or other interventions) during labour, and if you can begin breastfeeding as soon as possible after the birth – ideally, right away. (Even if you’re having a caesarean section, ask if the baby can be put on your chest to breastfeed while you are being stitched up.)

2. For your first feeding, get yourself comfortable in a semi-reclining position. Use pillows if you need to for support. Your baby should be naked, and you’ll find it easier if you are undressed from the waist up. Lay your baby tummy down on your body, near your breasts. Now just relax, admire your beautiful child, and wait. When he’s ready, he’ll begin lifting and bobbing his head, and will move to find your breast and latch on. All by himself. And there you go, you’re breastfeeding! You can help and support him, of course, but follow his lead.

3. Maybe you needed a lot of medication during labour, so your baby is having trouble latching on by himself, or you were separated for several hours and now he seems uninterested. If you feel you need to help your baby a bit more, try moving to a more upright position. Hold your baby vertically, skin to skin, against your chest, with one hand behind his shoulders and neck and one behind his bottom. When he wants to nurse, he’ll start to move down towards your breast. Support him with your hands as he moves, and he should latch on. If he doesn’t, support the baby with one arm and hand and use the other to support your breast. Tickle his lips with your nipple. Once he opens his mouth wide in response, bring him in quickly as he latches on.

4. You want your baby to latch on with his chin pressed into the breast and his nose away from it. He should have a mouthful of breast, not just the nipple, in his mouth. If the latch isn’t quite right, try pushing your baby’s bottom into your body a bit and letting his head tip back a little. You usually don’t need to unlatch him – just try to improve it while he nurses.

5. Let your baby nurse as long as he wants, and then offer the other side if he still seems interested. If you keep him close to you, and skin to skin as much as possible, he’ll let you know when he’s ready to breastfeed again. It might be twenty minutes, it might be three hours. Don’t expect a schedule or pattern.

6. If you find your nipples are sore, or you notice that your baby isn’t really swallowing mouthfuls of milk (long sucks with a definite pause when baby’s mouth is open wide) but is just doing a rapid, fluttering kind of suck, seek out a lactation consultant or La Leche League leader for help with improving his latch. Sore nipples are a sign that something isn’t quite right.

7. If for some reason your baby isn’t able to breastfeed right away, hand-expressing your milk will help you establish milk production. A pump doesn’t work as well at this point. And line up good help to get your baby breastfeeding once he’s ready.

8. Relax and enjoy! You and your baby will figure out a way to make breastfeeding work for you.

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