Breastfeeding Basics:  breastfeeding in the first six months after birth.

Breastfeeding is a time to bond with your baby, so try to ensure that it’s a calm and enjoyable experience.  You will need to shape each breast to the same shape as your baby’s mouth and make sure baby’s mouth is open wide as both the tongue and jaw muscles need to work together.

Breastfeeding is the gold standard in infant feeding and provides the best nourishment for your baby and allows your uterus to contract back to its pre pregnant size.  Breastmilk is easily digested and it helps protect babies from many infections.

With practice, you will develop your own technique.  Here’s a basic guide to get you started.

1.  Positioning and posture

Find a position that is comfortable for the both of you, with your back supported is best.  If you are sitting, feet flat on the floor with your elbows supported as your baby’s head usually rests on your arm.  Have baby chest to chest keeping his/her head, neck and shoulders aligned.  Baby’s nose should be lined up with your nipple, wait until baby opens mouth widely then bring baby into the breast.

2.  Rooting reflex

Most babies will search for the nipple when hungard, this is called the rooting reflex.  You can encourage this reflex by rubbing the nipple over babies cheek and baby should instinctively turn towards the breast.  Once baby is turning towards the nipple, don’t touch his/her face as this may be confusing.

3.  Latching

When baby is latched on to the breast correctly, this will stimulate the milk supply.  Ensure baby’s mouth is opened widely and mouth is covering the areola (the dark circle around the nipple), and taking a large mouthful of breast tissue.

4.  Check positioning

When baby is correctly attached at the breast, both tongue and jaw muscles will be working.  Nose needs to be clear so baby can breathe.  More of the underneath part of the areola will be in baby’s mouth.  When the jaw muscles are being used correctly, baby’s temples and ears will be moving when feeding.

5.  Changing position

Once baby is attached at the breast and rhythmically sucking and swallowing, have a think about how your breast is feeling.  Is there any pain?  If so, place your little finger in the corner of baby’s mouth to break the suction, and then take baby off the breast and try again.

6.  Finishing feeding

Let baby suck for as long as he/she wants before offering the next breast.  When baby has had enough, he/she will either turn away from the breast or fall off to sleep.  Some babies may need to be woken to continue feeding if they are not gaining enough weight or if he/she often wakes up soon after wanting to finish feeding.

7.  Winding

Most babies will burp after a feed.  Support the neck/head and gently but firmly rub the back for a couple of minutes.  Babies don’t always burp everytime, so if you don’t hear a burp after a couple of minutes it will still be ok for you to put baby into bed to sleep.

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