Get Started Nursing

Breastfeeding doesn't always come naturally. These hints will help you master the latch.

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Prep for Feeding

Alexandra Grablewski

Prep for Feeding

Your baby is more likely to latch well when he's alert and hungry. Sure signs: He's squirming or bringing his hand to his mouth. Your breasts probably will be very full. Express a small amount to soften your areola and get the milk flowing: Make a "U" under the nipple with your thumb on one side and index finger on the other and gently press back on the breast. Bring your thumb and finger together, release, and repeat until milk appears.

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How to Get a Good Breastfeeding Latch

To help your baby latch comfortably, grasp your breast so that your areola becomes an oval. This allows you to position the nipple further back into his mouth. Stroke your baby's upper lip with your nipple, and once his mouth is wide open, guide him onto your breast. His bottom lip will cover most of the lower half of your areola and his top lip will rest just a bit above your nipple, leaving some of the areola showing. Make sure his head is tilted back, his chin is nestled into your breast, and his nose is free.

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Know When You've Got it Right

Alexandra Grablewski

Know When You've Got it Right

If you feel pain, your baby probably isn't latched on deeply enough, which prevents him from using his jaw and tongue to massage the milk out. To reposition him, place your finger where his lips meet and pull his mouth into a smile to break the seal. You'll know he's eating comfortably if his hands and body are relaxed, and you're not feeling any pain.

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How to Do the Cradle Breastfeeding Position

Nursing sessions can last more than half an hour, so you want to be comfy. Head should be tilted back, with his chin pressed into your breast and his nose free.

For the cradle hold, sit in a chair and hold your baby with his neck resting on your forearm. Run your forearm down his back or along his side, and nuzzle his body close to yours. Use a pillow or rolled-up receiving blanket to support your arm or back if necessary.

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How to Do the Cross Cradle Breastfeeding Position

This looks similar to the cradle hold, but you're supporting your baby with the arm opposite the breast on which he's feeding. Lay Baby on his side and run your forearm along his spine, holding the base of his head with your hand.

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How to Do the Football Breastfeeding Position

Lay Baby on a pillow with his chest against your side and his legs behind you. If you're nursing on your left breast, hug him to your body with your left arm and support his neck by cradling the base of his head with your palm.

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Breastfeeding Position: Lying Down

Alexandra Grablewski

Breastfeeding Position: Lying Down

Lie on your side with your knees bent. If it feels better to straighten your legs, place a pillow behind your back to help you stay up. Lay your baby on his side with his stomach against yours. Rest his neck on the arm that's supporting you.

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How to Do the Straddle Breastfeeding Position

Babies with reflux may like this hold because it helps keep food down. It also works well for moms with a fast milk flow. Lean back and hold Baby so his belly touches yours and his legs straddle your thigh. Support his head with either hand.

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Nursing Know-How

Alexandra Grablewski

Nursing Know-How

Try to begin nursing within an hour of delivery. Your baby is primed for breastfeeding, and birthing hormones make it easy for you to express colostrum.

Most breastfed newborns lose up to 7 percent of their body weight in the first three days, but they generally return to their birth weight around day ten.

Look out for taxi-cab-yellow liquid poop by day five. This is a sign your sweetie is eating well! Call your doctor if your baby's BMs are still dark.

You'll produce only a little milk in the early days, but it's ultra protective -- like a mini vaccination!

Originally published in the August 2013 issue of American Baby magazine.