Archive for May, 2010

Let Your Baby Lead!

May 30, 2010

As a mother, you want to help your baby breastfeed. But often our help results in uncomfortable, ineffective breastfeeding. Many of you have already experienced the “help” of a well-intentioned nurse or lactation consultant who forces a baby to the breast against his will. Ramming a baby to the breast will only result in frustration and tears for everyone. In addition, a baby treated this way may learn to avoid the breast altogether.

Healthy newborns are equipped with instincts and reflexes that facilitate breastfeeding.

To let your baby use his instincts, position him on your lap so his head is slightly under your right breast. He will be resting comfortably on his back. Your right hand can support your breast. Your baby’s top lip will be aligned with your nipple and his head will be tipped back slightly. His left arm can be around your waist or tucked along his side against your belly. Support him with your left forearm—your hand just behind his ears, at the base of his neck. Your palm should be between his shoulder blades. Do not touch the back of his head. Lift baby so his chin touches the underside of your breast near the outer edge of the areola. His nose should be away from your breast. If he’s interested in nursing, he will tip his head back and open his mouth wide. At that moment you can lift his torso slightly so he can latch on. Baby’s upper lip will barely cover the nipple. Do not center the nipple in your baby’s mouth.

You can also try positioning your baby on your lap, supporting him so that his left cheek rests on top of your right breast. Hold him so that his head can move freely and the nipple is just out of reach. He will open his mouth and turn his head to find your nipple and begin breastfeeding.

Keep in mind that your baby’s face has to be in contact with your breast in order for him to know what to do! Once his face is touching your breast, his arms will relax and he can focus on opening his mouth and latching on!

See also: “Your Baby is a Mammal”


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Your Baby is a Mammal

May 30, 2010

Infant mammals have one thing in common. They all breastfeed. In addition, they are all equipped to squirm, crawl or swim to the breast and latch and happily suckle without the help of their mothers.

But human babies are different than other mammals, right? Don’t they need someone to “latch them on”?

Yes, human babies ARE different from other mammals. They are smarter and even more capable than their furry counterparts. After some help to get to mom’s torso, a newborn will have no trouble finding the breast and suckling comfortably and effectively. Just like other mammals, your baby has an innate need and an intense drive to breastfeed. To your baby it is not a choice. It is simply survival.

You have probably already noticed the reflexes that help babies find the breast. When your baby is ready to breastfeed, she turns her head back and forth on your chest and moves her body toward one breast or another while her mouth is wide open. She may also bob up and down on your chest with an open mouth. This can be quite comical to observe, but it is serious business for your baby. When your baby does those things, she is looking for your breast.

If your baby has been having trouble with breastfeeding, or if breastfeeding has been uncomfortable for you, you might want to try letting your baby show you how it’s done. Sit in a semi-reclined position bare from the waist up. Place your baby (also shirtless) on your chest facing you. Keep your hands close by to protect her from falling—otherwise, let her move her way. She may scoot down your torso. Or, she may throw her entire body to one side or the other. Be prepared for any movement she wants to make! As she gets closer to your breast, notice how she uses her chin, cheeks and mouth to find the breast, then the nipple. When she gets close enough, she will anchor her chin to the underside of your breast, throw her head back, open her mouth wide and latch on. It may take her a few tries to get it right. You can help her by lifting the breast if necessary.

Letting your baby show you how she wants to postion herself can help you understand how best to help her–even when it’s not practical to remove your shirt!

See also:  “Let Your Baby Lead!


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