The Basics to Breastfeeding Your Baby
By Brian Gardner
Throughout the 9 months of your pregnancy, nature ensures that your body will be prepared to breast feed your
baby. Breastfeeding will give your baby the best source of nutrients, and result in a good healthy start for your
Breastfeeding and nursing your baby is an acquired skill. For both mom and baby, this will require time and
patience on both parts. Breastfeeding comes more natural for some mothers and babies, but don't feel pressure to
If you happen to experience some difficulties in breastfeeding your baby, you can contact your local La Leche
League and they will be happy to supply a local lactation consultant. They specialize in helping a new mother to
breastfeed her baby, and have a lot of resources to ensure your breastfeeding success!
The First Two Days After Giving Birth
Most healthcare providers will encourage a mother to begin breastfeeding her baby as soon as possible. Some
instances when breastfeeding a baby isn't encouraged is when there was a difficulty in delivery such as a cesarean
section. You will find that many babies immediately take to the breast, and find themselves breastfeeding with
little to no effort. However, there are some cases such as a premature birth of a baby where the mother has a
problem while trying to breastfeed her baby. If this is the case a mother can still stroke her baby, and encourage
the baby to begin breastfeeding when it is ready.
Having Success in Breastfeeding
The best way to start breastfeeding your baby is to create an environment that is as calm as possible, as it
will help provide both you and baby a soothing atmosphere to breastfeed. Keeping a drink nearby is a helpful tip to
breastfeeding, as it will keep up your fluid intake.
One key to a successful breastfeeding is being in a comfortable nursing position. In general, most new mothers
nurse and breastfeed their baby while sitting upright on a chair. Some women breastfeed with their feet raised and
a pillow (or boppy pillow) on their lap, as that creates a natural, comfortable position for the breastfeeding of
baby to take place. If you find that you are tired when you need to breastfeed, lay down on your side. Some women
who are experiencing fatigue after their pregnancy find this to be the most relaxing way for them to begin
An important thing to remember while breastfeeding your baby is to ensure that the baby is held close to your
whole body, facing your breast. The baby's chest should be next to your chest, and you should be able to bring your
baby close to your breast easily, to allow an simple position for breastfeeding.
Positioning Your Baby Before Breastfeeding
Before you begin breastfeeding your baby, make sure both you and baby are comfortable. If the position you
choose to breastfeed your baby is upright, make sure that baby's head is supported by either your forearm or hold
her head and shoulders with the hand that you have free. While your baby is breastfeeding, their head should be at
the same level as your nipple, as this will allow the proper angle for you baby to suck and breastfeed
Another thing that might assist you in breastfeeding is to cup your breast with your hand. By supporting your
breast with your fingers against your ribs, you provide your baby the most opportune ability to breastfeed. One
thing to avoid is to pinch your nipple between two fingers, as it can prevent your baby from breastfeeding
successfully. Some babies have the natural breastfeeding instinct, where the automatically begin to suck on your
nipple as soon as they feel your breast on their cheek.
Ensure that Your Baby Has Latched On
Although it may feel unnatural, make sure your baby is breastfeeding with as much of your breast in their mouth
as possible. Your baby is properly positioned if they are breastfeeding with a "mouthful" of breast, including your
nipple and perhaps most of the areola.
While breastfeeding, your baby's bottom lip should be curled back, as their jaw muscles will work almost
rhythmically. If you notice that your baby's cheeks are caving in while breastfeeding, then they aren't suckling
properly, and might make the breastfeed unsuccessful. If this is the case, to ensure proper breastfeeding you
should reposition yourself or your baby and try again.
Changing Breasts if Necessary
Most babies breastfeed with various sucking patterns - from short sucks to longer bursts of sucking and
sometimes with pauses in between. Your baby will let you know if your breast is empty by falling asleep or letting
your nipple fall out of their mouth. This means that it's time to breastfeed with the other breast.
If you feel that you need to stop your baby from breastfeeding, the easiest and most effective way is to break
the breastfeed with your fingers. If your baby refuses to breastfeed with your other breast, let some time pass and
the try breastfeeding again with the other nipple.
You may notice that a few days after you deliver your baby, your breast might begin to feel swollen. This is
called engorgement of the breasts, and might even feel painful with accumulations of blood and milk. Breastfeeding
as much as eight times within a 24 hour period might help alleviate this pain. One thing you can do is to make
engorgement of the breast feel better, is to express a little bit of breast milk before you baby begins
The Combination of Breast Milk and Bottle
At some point it might be necessary to give yourself a break from breastfeeding by pumping breast milk into a
bottle. If you find yourself out on the run, or are returning to work, then pumping your breast milk will provide
your baby with the same nutrients that they receive when the breastfeed. Breastfeeding is the best way to ensure
your baby is getting what it needs - after all, the saying "mother's milk is best" is definitely the case. At some
point, you will need to stop breastfeeding altogether - but do this gradually, to provide proper transition.
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