Friday, January 16, 2009

The basics of breastfeeding

Getting started

As soon as possible after your baby is born lift them onto you so that your baby has direct skin contact. Newborn babies get cold easily so you will need to make sure your baby is dried and that you are both covered in a couple of towels or blankets.

Placing your baby directly on you will help keep them warm, help them to adjust to newborn life and allow you to get to know each other better. After a time your baby will start to lick their lips and open the mouth turning their head sideways. These are signs that your baby is ready to feed.

Latching on

Ask your midwife or partner to help turn your baby so that your bodies are facing and your baby's nose is in line with your nipple. In this position when your baby opens his or her mouth they should be able to latch onto the breast correctly.

Your baby needs to have a lot of the dark area around the nipple in it's mouth in order to feed. It does not feed from the nipple but from the breast itself. The best way to help your baby latch on is to wait until the mouth is wide open and then move your baby onto the breast aiming the nipple towards the roof of your baby's mouth - this can take a little practice.

When fixed on the breast properly your baby's bottom lip should be turned down and the nostrils should be clear of the breast so that he or she can breath easily. This can be difficult to see but your midwife or partner will be able to help you.

When your baby feeds you will notice that there is movement in the whole jaw. If this is not happening or your baby is sucking his or her cheeks in it might not be attached correctly. If in doubt ask your midwife.

If your baby is latched correctly breastfeeding is not usually painful. If your baby starts to feed the first few sucks may cause you some discomfort, after this things should get better.

If you find that things get worse as the feed goes on your baby may be sucking at the nipple. Slide your finger gently into your baby's mouth to break the seal, lift them away and start again. If it is possible, get someone to help you.

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