It is an incredible time for moms who choose to breastfeed to nurture and bond with their new baby. Even though breastfeeding is a natural process, not every step is instinctual, and babies will not always latch correctly. While some discomfort when starting to breastfeed is normal, you may experience sore nipples or other pain due to poor latching.
Because many women encounter various difficulties while breastfeeding their newborns, it may be beneficial to consult with a lactation specialist to help you understand what to expect and educate you on proper techniques. In the meantime, here are some tips and things you should know to help your baby latch better and make breastfeeding easier for both of you.
1. Start Early
You should always start breastfeeding as soon as possible, which will likely be within the first hour of your baby’s birth. At this stage, and through the next few days, your body will produce colostrum, an often thick yellowish “milk” packed with nutrients for your newborn. Even if your baby struggles at first, it is still beneficial for them to “practice” the action of latching and sucking while they are still awake.
In addition, you should wait to introduce pacifiers and other artificial nipples because they are of different materials and require different sucking methods. It may affect how your baby feeds from the breast or even refuse to latch and cause other physical problems. However, if your baby continues to have difficulty latching, you may want to seek a lactation consultant for further guidance.
2. Know What a Good Latch Looks Like
Just because a baby looks latched doesn’t always mean that it’s a good latch. Knowing the signs of a good latch ensures that your baby gets the milk they need and prevents pain. As you bring your baby close to you, guide the breast and nipple area downward toward their mouth and encourage them to open by stroking the sides of their face.
As the baby continues to feed, check the throat for movement as they swallow, and pay attention to signs that they are full or need to relatch. Their chin and nose should touch the breast as they try to attach themselves to the breast. Additionally, their lips should be flared outward, creating proper suction around the nipple and areola. You should feel a slight tugging sensation with a good latch and your baby sucking more slowly and deeply. With a poor latch, you might hear clicking noises that indicate poor suction and may lead to bruising if the baby is not fully attached to the nipple and areola.
3. Try Different Holding Positions
There is no single way to breastfeed. If the baby is often fussy or uncomfortable, there are numerous positions for you and your baby to breastfeed comfortably and safely. Experiment with different ways to hold your baby, especially as they continue to grow.
Though you should make sure your baby is always well-supported while breastfeeding, don’t forget about your comfort. Make sure you are situated in a position where your muscles are relaxed, and if you need more support, add a pillow or two where you need them as you adjust.
As you prepare for the big day, educating yourself about breastfeeding and latching techniques can help ease any anxieties you may have. Then, when you are finally holding your bundle of joy in your arms, you will understand the process of breastfeeding and savor this intimate bonding time with your baby.
Schedule your appointment with us when you’re expecting or preparing for delivery. We have lactation consultants that can help with latching and breastfeeding too.