How to Breastfeed
Breastfeeding is a natural and nourishing way to feed your baby. It provides numerous benefits for both the mother and child, including bonding, improved immunity and optimal nutrition.
While breastfeeding can be a beautiful experience, it can also pose some challenges along the way. Many new mothers may feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to breastfeed effectively.
In this article, we will provide you with essential tips and guidance on how to breastfeed successfully and comfortably. Whether you're a first-time mum or on your third, our guide will help you navigate breastfeeding with ease.
Preparing to Breastfeed
Preparing to breastfeed before your baby arrives can help you feel more confident and comfortable in the early days of breastfeeding. From building a support network to learning proper latch techniques, there are several steps you can take to prepare for successful breastfeeding.
Here are some essential tips on how to prepare yourself physically and mentally for your breastfeeding experience to come.
1. Learn about breastfeeding before giving birth
Attend classes or read up on breastfeeding techniques, common problems that arise during nursing, and ways to overcome them. This will help you feel more confident and prepared once your baby arrives.
2. Eat well
Treat your body well by giving it good nourishment. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Cut down on processed foods and those that are high in sugar or fat.
3. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain your body's optimum hydration. This is even more important once you start lactating to ensure an adequate milk supply. 3-4l of water is recommeneded.
4. Get enough sleep
Rest is vital both now and when your baby arrives. New mums may feel exhausted after delivery, so it's good to try and be well rested before your big day.
Choosing a Comfortable Position for Breastfeeding
Here are some steps to help ensure a pleasant breastfeeding experience.
- To help you relax and feel more comfortable, choose a quiet and peaceful location.
- Take some of the strain off your back and arm by using a cushion or bespoke nursing pillow.
- Sitting up straight with good posture will help you avoid back pain and neck strain while breastfeeding.
- Use one hand to support your breast while feeding, so that your baby doesn’t have to work as hard to latch on properly.
One of the most important things you can do to make breastfeeding more comfortable is to find the best position for you and your baby. Experiment with different positions to find the one that works best for you.
Best Breastfeeding Position
The best breastfeeding position is the one that is most comfortable for you and your baby. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this, but here are 4 of the most popular positions for breastfeeding.
1. Cradle Hold
This is a very common position where you support your baby's head with one arm and cradle their body with your other arm.
2. Football Hold
In this position, you tuck your baby under your arm like a football with their legs and feet pointing towards the back.
3. Lying Sideways
You lie on your side facing your baby while they lay on their side facing you. This is especially helpful during night feedings, as it allows both you and your baby to rest.
4. Laid-Back Nursing
Also known as biological nurturing or reclined nursing, this technique involves leaning back comfortably with pillows behind you and placing your baby on top of you so that they can naturally find and latch onto your breast.
Problems with latching on can be very frustrating and distressing for both you and your baby. For one thing, a poor latch is the most common cause of sore nipples. What's more, unless they can latch on well, your baby cannot drain your breast properly. That can lead to slow growth as well as affecting your milk supply and putting you at risk of mastitis or blocked milk ducts.
A good breastfeeding latch means that your nipple and areola (the dark area around your nipple) are in your baby's mouth. You can recognise it because your baby's chin and possibly the tip of their nose will be touching your breast.
3 Steps for Getting Your Baby to Latch On
1. In your comfortable position, hold your baby close and bring them towards you until their nose is level with your nipple.
2. Tickle your baby's lips with your nipple until they open their mouth wide enough to take in all or most of the areola.
3. Once their mouth is open wide enough, quickly bring them onto your breast so that as much of the areola as possible is inside their mouth. If your areola is large, then it might not all fit in your baby's mouth, and that's fine.
A good latch will feel comfortable, and you will see that your baby has their lips splayed out like a fish as they suck.
If your baby is not latched on well, they might be sucking in their cheeks as they try to feed, or they might have their lips tucked in instead of out.
- To prevent or treat cracked or sore nipples, apply lanolin cream or use nipple shields until they heal properly. Your breast milk is also a good remedy for sore nipples, so massage a few drops in after each feed.
- Choose comfortable clothing that makes it easy to nurse without making you feel uncomfortable or exposed.
- Practice relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation or yoga to help reduce your stress. This can positively impact milk production and bonding with your baby.
- Be sure to take breaks when you need to. Breastfeeding can be tiring work! Even just a few minutes of rest can make a big difference in how you feel.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends, family members or healthcare workers if you run into any issues while breastfeeding.
- If you have problems like hard nipples, pain, tenderness, discharge or flu-like symptoms, then you could be suffering from engorgement, a blocked duct or even mastitis. If you're worried about any of these problems, don't hesitate to seek help as soon as possible.
Visiting a women's health physiotherapist will give you peace of mind and practical, effective help for any breastfeeding problems you might be experiencing.
PelviCare Women's Health Physiotherapy is located in Greenwich, London, serving women across South London, East London, Essex, Kent and beyond.