According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusively breastfeeding can have positive health outcomes for mom and baby; however, we also want mom and baby to be comfortable during this time.
During the first 72 hours, practicing positioning and latching baby is incredibly important to decrease pain and to have a positive and nurturing breastfeeding experience.
Read on to learn about breastfeeding positioning, latching and much more.
POSITIONING AND LATCHING BABY
When latching baby onto your breast, even if the position and latch look right, you should still ask two questions:
- Am I comfortable?
- Am I effectively feeding baby?
We know, there are books and latch consultants (which we recommend utilizing because they are there to help), but mom should not feel pain, and baby should be receiving milk. If these two things are not happening, it could indicate that the latch or position needs to change.
For the first few weeks, as mom is practicing latching and positioning, it can be painful, but by week three, if you are still experiencing pain through the full feed, then there is an issue.
How to latch:
- Hold baby’s body close to yours with his or her nose level with your nipple.
- Let baby’s head tip back so that his or her top lip can brush against your nipple, helping baby to have a wider and open mouth.
- As baby’s mouth is opened wide, his or her chin should touch your breast first so that baby’s tongue can reach your breast as much as possible.
- As baby latches, you should see more of the darker skin (areola) above baby’s top lip than bottom. Baby should be feeding at this point.
What position is best for me?
There is no right or wrong way to hold baby while breastfeding. If you are a first time mother, you can use these positions as guides until you find what is comfortable to you.
The Cradle Hold
This is a traditional position.
- Support baby on the arm that’s on the same side as the breast he or she will be latching on.
- Hold your upper arm close to your body, rest baby’s head on the crook of your elbow, supporting his or her back with your arm, and cup the bottom of baby with your hand.
- Rotate baby so his or her body is toward you. You will know this position is done correctly if baby’s pelvis is against your abdomen, baby’s chest is against your chest and baby’s mouth is lined up with your nipple.
The Cross Cradle Hold
This position involves the cradle hold with one minor change. Instead of using the same arm that is on the side baby will latch onto, use the opposite arm.
This will allow your hand to support baby’s neck and upper back, instead of his or her bottom.
The Clutch Hold
This is also referred to as the football hold. If you have given birth by c-section, this position might be easiest for you as it keeps baby from touching the abdomen.
- Place baby next to you, on the side that baby will be latching onto.
- Tuck his or her body next to you, under your arm.
- Make sure that your forearm is supporting baby’s upper back and head.
- Place a pillow under your elbow for support, and keep baby’s head level with your breast.
This is another position you may find comfortable is you’ve had a c-section.
- Lie on your side with one or more pillows behind your back and head.
- Make sure that your hips and back are kept straight.
- Hold baby close on his or her side with your arm around him or her.
- Support your breast with your other hand and guide him or her to it.
Signs that baby is latching and feeding:
- Baby takes long pulls and swallows
- It doesn’t hurt when baby feeds
- After baby is feeding, your breast/nipple isn’t sore
Is baby getting enough milk?
You can tell if baby is getting enough milk by his or her stools.
- Day One and Two: During the first 48 hours, baby will not have many wet diapers. That is okay. During this time, baby may pass a black/olive green tar-like stool called meconium. Meconium is composed of materials baby ingested during the time he or she spent in the uterus such as intestinal epithelial cells, lanugo mucus, amniotic fluid, bile and water.
- Day Three: Baby’s stool should be lighter, runnier and greener.
- Day Four to Four to Six Weeks: Baby should pass two yellow stools per day.
WHAT CAUSES SORE NIPPLES? ARE THERE REMEDIES?
The tale of sore nipples may float around with your friends that are moms. You may think it’s common and that you have to deal with it so baby can feed. This isn’t true.
Yes, during the first few weeks, your breasts and nipples may feel tender as baby latches; however, that uncomfortableness should not stick around for the full feeding.
A variety of issues could cause nipple soreness.
- Shallow latch: If baby is suckling on your nipple, he or she is not properly latched. It is okay to break the latch and start again.
- Thrush infection: If baby develops a yeast infection, he or she may pass it to you, which can cause nipple pain or damage.
- Tongue-tie: If the skin connecting baby’s tongue to the bottom of his or her mouth is short or extends too far.
- Milk build up: This is when a thin layer of skin grows over the milk duct opening, clogging the duct.
All of these issues should be talked about with your (labor and delivery) L&D nurse.
For cracked nipples, try rubbing a bit of your milk in and letting it air-dry.
According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, approximately 40 to 80 percent of new mothers experience mild and transient mood disturbance, while 13 to 19 percent develop postpartum depression when symptoms last over two weeks.
“Mental clarity is awful during this time,” said Marcie Prettyman, Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown PA-C. “[Practicing breastfeeding] It’s painful, and it hurts. That’s okay. If you can hang in there for the first two weeks, by week three, you will be a pro.”
“A lot of what we focus on during the first postpartum visit is breastfeeding,” Prettyman said.
During this time, your physician will talk to you about how breastfeeding is going, if your nipples are sore, tender, red, and if any lumps of bumps are forming.
It is important to be honest with your physician.They are there to assist you during this time.
During this first visit, along with performing a physical exam (breast and pelvic exam), your physician make also talk with you about:
- Contraception and restarting intercourse
- Physical issues such as bleeding, the development of hemorrhoids or heart palpitations
There are many myths to breastfeeding. We are here to dispel a few.
- You can’t get pregnant. While yes, it is harder to get pregnant due to breastfeeding preventing ovulation, it is not a reliable form of birth control.
- Small breasts can not produce enough milk. The size of your breast doesn’t matter in relation to the quantity of milk your body produces.
- After baby’s first birthday, he or she shouldn’t be breastfeeding anymore. This is a personal decision for you and baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for six months. Then, after six months, and solid foods are introduced to baby’s diet, you can continue breastfeeding for 12 months. After one year, it is up to you to continue breastfeeding