So you’re about to have a new baby, or you’ve already done that. You’ve decided that you want to breastfeed because why wouldn’t you and now you just need to figure out how to do this thing.
Breastfeeding is a journey, somewhat like pregnancy and it’s something that you’ll have to learn to do well.
“It’s all about the latch”
The Breast Crawl
Did you know that a newborn baby, who is placed on his mother’s abdomen right after birth, can crawl up to his mother’s breast and latch on himself?
Don’t believe me? Check out this video: https://youtu.be/0OYXd-mMSVU
Wow! Exactly. Unfortunately however, most newborns and mothers aren’t given the chance to experience this practice here in the UK.
But the point is, if a baby can do that right right out of the womb, breastfeeding is one of the most natural and instinctual things on this planet.
It’s all about the latch, get that right early on and the rest will fall into place.
The best way to get a good latch is to ensure that baby’s nose is in line with your nipple. That way baby can smell and sense where the food is and it means that he has to open his mouth really really wide before he gets what he wants.
Don’t feel tempted to ‘help him out’.
As tempting as in may be to ‘help baby out’ it can actually do more harm than good. As I’ve already said, newborns are more than capable of crawling and climbing to their source of food. (If you still don’t believe me, you haven’t watched the video and I really think you should!)
Similarly, a baby is more than capable to open his mouth wide wide wide enough to get the food.
The problem with helping them out is that you may place your nipple inside their mouth which is not open wide enough. This is what causes many women pain because their nipple is caught under the hard roof of baby’s mouth instead of the soft part at the back.
Once baby latches on properly, it should be pain free and you should be able to see and /or hear baby swallowing. This often follows a rhythmic pattern (suck suck suck swallow- suck suck suck swallow).
If it is painful or it appears baby is suck suck suck – suck suck sucking without swallowing, you will have to try again.
Practice this from day one with the support of your friends and family, which is vital for oxytocin and building up milk supply. Click here to check out our Breastfeeding for Dada: a guide to breastfeeding for fathers for more info on this topic.
Most importantly, don’t worry if you don’t get the right straight away, it can take weeks to get a good latch. Just do not give up in a hurry! Because even though you might experience frustration and discomfort your perseverance will be the best thing you can do for you baby and the great effect can last up to 14 years of not longer.
Knowledge is key!
Do lots of research online and with real life cases (women you know who are qualified or who have had children), it helps.
Here are some well respected sources:
You, like billions and trillions of women before you, are well equipped to do this!
All the best.