We all know that breastfeeding can have great benefits for the health and wellbeing of babies and Mums. BUT let’s be honest, breastfeeding can often be difficult and stressful for various reasons. Sometimes the baby has difficulty to latch on to the breast, the milk supply is low, the Mum might be too sick to breastfeed etc.
In this blog post, an experienced midwife and award-winning childbirth educator is going to give us some few tips on how to help baby to latch on.
THE LATCH ON PROCESS
Latching on is the way the baby takes the Mum’s nipple and areola into its mouth to suckle – essentially this process is the most important aspect of breastfeeding. But sometimes in the beginning of the breastfeeding journey, the baby can have trouble to latch on or maintaining sucking at the breast. Without proper attachment, the baby will not get enough milk and the Mum’s breasts won’t be stimulated to produce more, initiating a vicious cycle of poor milk demand and poor milk supply. Sadly, this vicious cycle can give the Mum emotional stress, and sometimes she will feel a great amount of guilt – at least I did. I had big difficulties getting my twin babies to latch on properly, and hence it was very painful. I simply couldn’t understand why the attaching didn’t work, especially because it was a breeze with their older sister. Looking back, I now wish I had asked for help from a lactation consultant, but I guess I was a bit too embarrassed.
To help making the breastfeeding journey a bit more enjoyable for other new Mums, who have similar attachment issues, I asked Hannah Willsmore to share some tips with us. Hannah is a midwife, lactation consultant and an award-winning childbirth educator.
Here are her tops tips for successfully attaching your baby to the breast:
#1: Watch for readiness to feed
I recommend to begin feeding your baby when they first start showing signs that they are ready to feed – these include turning their head to the side, putting their hands in their mouth, or opening their mouth. For many babies crying is actually a late cue, and some babies who are crying need to be calmed before they can be attached to the breast. Looking out for the early feeding signs can help!
#2: Feed skin to skin
Breastfeeding skin to skin can help your baby to get a better attachment. This means removing their clothes so they are just in a nappy, and placing them with their chest against your breast/chest. I find most babies attach better when they are skin to skin rather than wrapped as they use their hands to position themselves at the breast. I recommend my clients to have lots of skin to skin contact with their babies in the first few weeks, even between feeds as it is so beneficial!
#3: Breast-feed, not nipple feed!
Many new Mums will try to put their nipple in their babies’ mouth, but this can often lead to shallow attachment and pain. Waiting for your baby to open their mouth wide and then quickly hugging them onto your breast allows them to take in a large amount of breast tissue. Remember it’s called breast feeding not nipple feeding – your baby needs to take in a big mouthful of breast tissue to allow optimal milk transfer and to help prevent nipple damage. Supporting your baby behind their shoulders allows them to stay close to the breast. You may like to use pillows to support your arms once your baby is attached.
Although breastfeeding is natural, it isn’t always easy. If you are having any breastfeeding problems or would like some support please reach out to a midwife or lactation consultant. Most breastfeeding challenges can be overcome so that you can successfully breastfeed your baby.
Ladies, I truly hope that you will find these tips helpful! And please, please do remember not to feel guilty, if you are struggling with breastfeeding! I highly recommend you to get in touch with a midwife or lactation consultant.
P.S. Want to learn about cosmetic ingredients to avoid, when breastfeeding or pregnant? Check out this blog post.