Today we continue discussing breastfeeding. My friend Meredith Sauer explains proper latching and positioning extremely well. If you are a soon to be mom or plan on having kids someday, read on & then bookmark this page for future reference. If you are a member of Facebook, check out the Natural Childbirth and Breastfeeding group.
There are quite a few ways that you can position your baby to breastfeed. You can use the cradle position (one hand holds your opposite breast, while you other forearm and elbow support the baby’s head). You can use the transition position (the hand on the same side holds your breast; the opposite arm supports the baby’s body and the hand holds and controls the baby’s head. A good position for when baby is very young). There is also the clutch or football position (the baby’s head is supported by your hand, but instead of lying along your chest, his body rests between your side and your arm, clutched like a purse or a football. Baby’s feet protrude from under your arm, while the opposite hand holds your breast (this is a great position for beginners or for C-sections. Also for women with extremely large breasts). The cradle-lying down position is good for women who have had c-sections or are fatigued (so, all of us!) Your knees squeeze one pillow, another is behind your back for support, and you have additional pillows under your head and under your baby to bring him to breast level. Your opposite hand holds your breast, and your same arm and hand support the baby. If you want to feed your baby lying down, without having to roll over to change sides, use the alternate lying-down position. After feeding baby from the breast closest to the bed in the cradle lying-down position, place your top leg on the bed to support your back, and shift baby to the top breast. This is a great position if you can’t lie comfortably on both sides, and at night if you breastfeed while sleeping. There are also some positions if you have multiples. If you need help with those positions,
Once you have baby positioned correctly, you will need to make sure baby is latched on properly.
It is SUPER DUPER important that your baby’s latch is correct. If it isn’t, it can lead to all kinds of problems. This might be hard to explain without
a diagram, but here goes.
Make sure that baby’s mouth is WIDE open before you pull baby onto your breast. If it isn’t, you can use your nipple to tickle baby’s bottom lip for them to open wide. You want baby to have not just the nipple in his mouth, but most, if not all of the areola (depending on how big your areola is). The nipple should touch the back of baby’s throat. Most nipple soreness comes from incorrect latch because baby is actually sucking on the nipple and not the breast. Baby needs to be sucking on the actual breast. Hence the name “breast” feeding and not “nipple” feeding. Baby’s lips should be “flanged”. Always lead with the lower jaw as well. If the baby has an incorrect latch or/and is making clicking noises, take baby off and try again. I repeat, DO NOT let baby nurse if his latch is not correct. Unless, of course, you enjoy sore nipples. If you need help with your baby’s latch, please see a lactation consultant. Your success in breastfeeding depends on it.
The Anatomy of Your Breast
Your breasts make milk based on how your baby is nursing. If baby’s latch is incorrect, your breast will not function properly to make milk. When baby is latched on correctly, your body will release prolactin, which sends a signal to all of the milk producing cells in your breasts to start making milk. Then, oxytocin is released, telling the milk-producing cells to send the milk stored through the milk ducts. As the baby properly sucks, the milk travels along the milk ducts to milk sinuses under the areola tissue. When the baby compresses your breast tissue and the sinuses that lie underneath (impossible if baby is only sucking on the nipple), the milk is ejected into your baby’s mouth through the openings in your nipple. This is a harmonious process when baby is doing his job correctly. If baby is not latched on properly and isn’t compressing the milk sinuses properly, the entire cycle shuts down and you don’t make milk. This can lead to clogged ducts, breast infections, drying up, sore nipples, and of course, a very unhappy and hungry baby.
There are two stages of milk that you make. Stage one occurs during day one and two. You’re making colostrum. Early milk, or colostrum, has a lower concentration of fat than nature milk but a higher concentration of protein and minerals. Colostrum is like your baby’s first immunization. You are passing on all of your immunities to your baby in liquid form. Colostrum also get’s your baby’s bowels moving so that he can pass the first poop called meconium. The more your baby nurses, the faster the meconium will pass through his system and the less likely he is to end up with problems like jaundice.
Stage two occurs by day 2 or 3 (or as many as 8 days after birth). You’re making milk. Your breasts will be full and warm. Now your milk has higher concentrations of fat, but lower concentrations of protein and minerals. It is recommended to breastfeed at least 8 times, but closer to 12 times, in a 24 hour period. That averages to about every 2 hours with one 4 hour break (hopefully at night)
When nursing Abigail, I fed her on a three hour schedule. I’ll give more of my own methods and testimony later.