How to Breastfeed

Read these nursing pointers to help you get started breastfeeding your baby.
woman breastfeeding

Alexandra Grablewski

Pick a position. One popular pose is the cross cradle: Rest your baby's bottom on either the crook of your arm or on a pillow placed on your lap. If you're feeding your baby on your left breast, support his back with your right arm; use your left arm when feeding on the right breast. Place the palm of your hand between your baby's shoulder blades, fingers gently supporting the back of his head.

Or, try the football hold. Place your baby on a pillow on the same side as the breast from which you will be feeding, holding his body close to your side, with his legs stretched out behind you. Support his back with your forearm, and, as in the position above, place your hand between his shoulder blades, fingers gently supporting the back of his head.

Entice your baby to open up. If he doesn't open up right away, tickle your baby from his nose to the top of his lip with your nipple; or try hand-expressing some milk and dotting it on his lips.

Help him latch. Place your nipple close to your baby's nose rather than his mouth. By doing this, you'll allow him to take in more breast tissue and he'll bring your nipple further back in his mouth, which will make it easier for him to eat.

Watch for satiety cues. If your baby starts to relax or loses interest in your breast, he's probably finished eating. Offer him your other breast, but if he looks sleepy or uninterested, don't force it.

Know if he's eating enough. Babies generally need to be fed about eight times over a 24-hour period, with each feeding lasting around 20 to 40 minutes. If he's gaining 5 to 7 ounces per week and producing six to eight wet diapers per day, he's likely eating an adequate amount.

Care for cracked nipples. Express some milk onto your nipples to moisten the area and let it air dry. Another option: Ask your doctor about treating it with a lanolin cream.

Ease your discomfort. As your hormones continue to fluctuate and you get accustomed to this new sensation on your breast, you may feel some slight discomfort; if you feel toe-curling pain, seek assistance from a lactation consultant. Any tenderness should subside within the first 20 seconds of a feeding. If it doesn't, break the latch and try again. To obstruct the suction, stick your finger in your baby's mouth between his gum and your nipple, then pull your nipple out.

Ask about meds. Consult with your doctor or a lactation consultant before taking any medication, even if it's over the counter.

Seek assistance. If it feels uncomfortable or if you sense something isn't right, contact a lactation consultant as soon as possible.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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