Breastfeeding Positions

 

When you are about to feed your baby, make sure you and your baby are in a position that makes it easy to breastfeed. Mothers and babies can breastfeed in many different positions. At first, you may find you are more comfortable in a certain position like sitting back in a favourite chair or lying in your bed. As you and your baby become breastfeeding experts, you will be able to feed your baby anywhere, while walking, carrying him in a carrier, or sitting at the table.

 

Whichever position you like to use (laid back breastfeeding, sitting up or lying down), your baby should be in a position that allows for a deep latch and easy swallowing. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Have your back well supported.
  • Make sure you are in a position that does not cause you pain (from an episiotomy or caesarean section).
  • Your baby’s ear, shoulder and hip should be in a straight line.
  • Your baby’s head should be slightly tilted back. This allows him to latch deeply and swallow easily.

 

Watch this video from Peel Public Health on different Breastfeeding Positions.

 

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.

 

A deep latch is very important because it lets your baby get milk easily without hurting your nipples or breasts. Your baby will take the whole or most of the darker or pink area around your nipple (your areola) into his mouth. That helps him “milk” the breast and will not hurt your nipple.

  • When your baby is ready to latch, bring him to your breasts.
  • Make sure your baby is turned towards you or even lying on top of your chest – Tummy to Mommy.
  • As your baby starts to search for your breast, support his body so that his head is at the level of your breasts – Face to Breast.
  • If you are sitting up, you may need to support his shoulders and neck with the palm of your hand. This will allow your baby to move or even lift his head.
  • Help your baby get into a position where his nose is at the level of your nipple. This will help him open wide and get a big mouthful of your breast – Nose to Nipple.
  • If you are sitting up, tuck your baby’s whole body in close, his bottom and legs too.
  • If you have larger breasts, it sometimes helps to hold your breast by cupping it with your hand.
  • Your fingers should be well back from the darker or pink area (areola) around your nipple.
  • Your index finger should rest on your breast below baby’s chin and your thumb above his nose. This will allow your baby to latch deeply.
  • Your baby’s chin and lower lip will touch your breast first.
  • Your nipple will be pointing toward your baby’s nose while you wait for his mouth to open wide over your nipple.
  • Your baby should have more of the breast below your nipple (rather than above your nipple) in his mouth. His chin will be against your breast, and his nose will be slightly away from the breast.

 

You don’t need to push your baby onto your breast. In fact, babies don’t like getting pushed and may push back against your hand. This can make you think your baby does not want to feed. If your baby fusses and doesn’t latch on, try these things:

  • Move him back to an upright position between your breasts. Doing skin-to-skin contact will help calm your baby.
  • Stroke and talk to your baby.
  • Calm yourself. This will calm your baby too.
  • Once your baby is calm, try latching again.
  • Express a few drops of milk and let your baby taste them on your nipple. This may get his attention. See the Getting Started section of this website to learn about hand expression of colostrum or breastmilk.

 

Watch this video from Peel Public Health on The Latch.

You may also find the Dr. Jack Newman Breastfeeding Videos helpful as well.

If you are unable to latch your baby, ask for help right away. See Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey and Bruce.

 

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.

While your baby is nursing you will know your baby is latched on well if these things are happening:

  • Breastfeeding is comfortable for you.
  • Your baby has a strong, slow, regular suck.
  • You can hear swallowing.
  • Your baby’s mouth is wide open with flared lips.
  • Your baby’s ears or temple are moving while he sucks.

When your baby is finished nursing:

  • Your nipples will have a normal, rounded shape and they should not look pinched.
  • Your breasts may feel softer. This is more noticeable during the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
  • Your baby should be relaxed and content. Younger babies may fall asleep when they are done feeding. Older babies may stay awake but let you know they are done feeding by turning away or starting to play.
  • Younger babies often fall asleep at the breast, but when you take them away, they wake up again. If your baby does this, it is a sign that he was not yet finished.

 

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.

How often should I be breastfeeding and for how long?

Most newborn babies feed at least 8 times in 24 hours. Breastfeeding provides food for your baby to grow and develop. It is also comforting and helps you and your baby develop a close emotional connection.

Some babies feed regularly and establish a routine quickly. Others like to have short feeds very often, especially in the evening or at night. This is called cluster feeding. It is very common in the first few weeks.

Feed your baby whenever he shows feeding cues. Feed him as long as he wants to feed. When he stops feeding on the first breast, burp him and offer the second breast. This will ensure you have a good milk supply as your baby grows. Some babies feed for 20 minutes, others take much longer.

You do not need to time his feeds or worry about him as long as your baby:

  • Feeds often, at least 8 times in 24 hours.
  • Feeds with strong sucking and swallowing.
  • Has plenty of wet and dirty diapers.
  • Gains weight consistently.

 

Remember: Watch your baby, not the clock!

As babies get older they may change how long or how often they feed. Follow your baby’s cues. Your baby knows when he is hungry and when he is full.

Whenever your baby wants to feed, start with the breast that your baby did not feed from. If he fed from both breasts, start with the breast from which your baby fed last. Let your baby feed as long as he is interested.

Switch to the other breast:

  • Once the first breast feels softer.
  • Your baby is no longer sucking actively.
  • Your baby lets go of the breast or falls asleep.
  • Make sure your baby feeds from both your breasts regularly. Some women keep track by putting a ribbon on their bra or a bracelet on their arm. Do whatever works for you and your baby.
  • Some babies release the breast, others don’t. If your baby has been pausing a lot and is no longer swallowing, you can take him off your breast. Slip a finger between your breast and your baby’s mouth to break the suction. Some babies always feed from both breasts, others don’t.
  • Some babies have a short nap and then feed from the other breast.

 

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.

Some newborn babies fall asleep easily while they are feeding.

To encourage your baby to keep feeding until he is full, you can use breast compressions. If your baby falls asleep after only a few minutes at the breast, compress your breast behind the areola to help your milk to flow. Do not squeeze so hard that it hurts.

This will help your baby start sucking again. You can do this throughout the feeding or at the end of the feeding when your baby starts to get sleepy.

Watch this video from Dr. Jack Newman on breast compressions.

For more information about breast compressions, go to the International Breastfeeding Centre website.

 

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.

These are signs that your baby is getting enough milk.

  • Your baby feeds at least 8 times every 24 hours.
  • Your baby has enough wet and dirty diapers according to his age. Refer to the chart on page 22 of Breastfeeding Matters from the Best Start Resource Centre for more information.
  • Your baby is active and has a strong cry.
  • Your baby has a wet, pink mouth, and bright eyes.

To make sure your baby is getting enough milk during the first week, keep track of the number of wet and dirty diapers in a 24 hour period.

In the beginning, it can be hard for new parents to know if their baby has a wet diaper. A very wet diaper is heavier than a dry diaper.

If you want to know what a very wet diaper feels like, pour 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of water on a dry diaper. Your baby’s urine (pee) should be clear or pale yellow, and it should have no smell.

If a dirty diaper is heavy, count it as both a wet diaper and a stool.

Babies lose an average of 7% of their birth weight in the first 3 days after birth. For example, a 7 pound baby will lose about 230 grams or ½ a pound.

From day 4 onward your baby should gain 20 – 35 g (2/3 – 1 1/3 oz) per day and regain his birth weight by 10 – 14 days. During the first 3 – 4 months your baby should continue to gain 20 – 35 g (2/3 –1 1/3 oz) per day. If your baby is not gaining enough, wake your baby for more feedings, and get help to make sure your baby is feeding well. Always breastfeed your baby when he seems hungry.

Up to about 3 weeks of age, breastfed babies should have 3 or more large, soft, seedy stools per day. If your baby does not have 3 or more stools per day under 3 weeks of age, take your baby to see her health care provider and see Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey Bruce.

 Around one month of age, some babies will have only 1 – 2 stools per day. Some have one large stool every few days. This is normal as long as your baby is feeding well, seems content and his stools are soft. If your baby is not feeding well, is more fussy than usual or has not had a stool in more than a week, take your baby see his health care provider and see Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey Bruce.

If your baby does not have enough wet and dirty diapers, get help right away. Take your baby to see his health care provider and see Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey Bruce.

 

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.

Your baby needs to feed often, because her stomach is small and breastmilk is digested easily. When your baby is born, her stomach is about the size of a cherry and holds about 5-7 ml. By day 3, your baby’s stomach increases to about the size of a walnut and holds about 22-27 ml. Around 7 days old, your baby’s stomach is about the size of an egg and holds about 60 ml. See the chart on page 22 of Breastfeeding Matters from the Best Start Resource Centre for more information.

 

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.

 

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