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How to Breastfeed a Newborn Baby

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How to Breastfeed a Newborn Baby

Breastfeeding looks very easy and effortless in parenting magazines and TV programs. Those mums never skip a beat in their conversations or daily activities as they pop a button open and latch on a baby. They make it look like it is a natural process with no hiccups. But the fun stops when you hold your newborn in the delivery room for the first time, and suddenly realize that the process is not as seamless as it appeared.

Now, before you start second-guessing yourself, it is important to note that though breastfeeding is a natural instinct for both mother and baby, there are some instances when the baby will have trouble finding the nipple or staying on it. If this happens, do not fret. It will take practice before you can master it. Here are handy tips on how to breastfeed a newborn baby to help you get off to a good start:

Start by getting comfortable

Breastfeeding can take as long as 40 minutes, especially during the first few months. Since you do not want to be in a hurry when nursing, start by selecting a comfortable spot for breastfeeding to avoid getting sore arms and back.

Change baby’s nappy if it’s dirty, and make sure the room is warm and comfortable. Consider having a glass of water nearby, and perhaps something to keep you occupied (such as the TV) once the novelty of watching baby feed eventually wears off!

If you intend to breastfeed while sitting, consider using a nursing pillow to help you support the baby. Alternatively, get a footstool. Ultimately, whether you choose to breastfeed while lying down or sitting, make sure you and the baby are comfortable before you start nursing.

Baby positioning

To start breastfeeding, turn your baby’s body towards you until his chest is in contact with yours. Next, touch the baby’s upper lip with the nipple. Most likely, the baby will respond instinctively and open their mouth. If the baby turns away, stroke the cheek gently. The baby’s rooting reflex will make him turn his head towards the breast.

With the baby’s mouth open, pull him onto the breast as you hold the breast for support. Ideally, the baby’s mouth should cover the nipple and as much of the areola (the dark part surrounding the nipple) as possible.

Correct latching

Getting your baby to latch correctly determines whether your baby breastfeeds effectively or not. If not properly executed, poor latching is likely to cause damaged or sore nipples which make breastfeeding an unpleasant experience. To make sure the baby is latched correctly, ask a healthcare provider to check the attachment.

Once the baby is latching on correctly, aim the nipple towards the roof of the baby’s mouth. This approach allows the baby to latch on the nipple and take in the areola into his mouth for effective feeding.

When breastfeeding, pay special attention to how your breast feels. If it feels painful, it is because the baby is not latching properly. Ideally, when the baby is well-latched, you only experience a tugging sensation. In addition, watch for signs of suckling. If your baby is extracting milk or suckling, you will notice a rhythmic and steady suck-swallow-breath pattern.  You should also hear gulping or swallowing sounds.

Once the breast feels emptier, change baby over to the other breast, so baby gets the fore and hind milk from both supplies (these types of milk provide different benefits to baby, and the hindmilk is fattier, therefore, more nutritious). You should start each feed on the same breast you finished last feed on, which means each breast will receive the right amount of stimulations to ensure a good milk supply.

Choose a good feeding bra

It is worth investing in three to four good feeding bras. The right support for your breasts is essential while breastfeeding as an ill-fitting bra can lead to problems such as blocked ducts and mastitis. It is also possible to buy special breastfeeding tops that have been sensitively designed in order to give you as much privacy as possible. A shawl or big scarf can help protect your modesty if you are planning on feeding in public.

Is the baby getting enough breast milk?

Most first-time moms worry whether their babies are getting enough breast milk or not. However, if you are feeding the baby on demand, you should not worry about the baby getting enough because you are producing enough milk. To know whether the baby is getting enough milk, keep track of the number of dirty nappies he is producing.

Ultimately, learning how to breastfeed effectively requires a lot of patience and commitment, however, it is worth the effort.  While breastfeeding can be tiring, you must always remember that breast milk is the most ideal food for your baby.


Sue Ridgeway

Sue is a writer, fitness instructor, community volunteer, wife and mother of three girls. In her spare time she teaches spin and pilates classes at the YMCA and with several private clients. Sue knows first hand the trials and tribulations of being pregnant and the struggle to remain fit and fabulous while gestating.

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