Your breastfeeding comfort can depend on where your nipple lands in your baby’s mouth. And this depends on how deeply your baby takes the breast, or latches on.
To understand this better, use your tongue or finger to feel the roof of your mouth. Behind your teeth and the ridges you can feel the roof is hard. When your nipple presses against this hard area in your baby’s mouth, it can hurt.
Where Do I Begin?
Did you know that babies are born with feeding reflexes that can help them get to the breast and latch on their own? In fact, when mothers and babies are kept skin to skin in the first hour or two after birth, most healthy babies demonstrate these instinctive behaviors by slowly pushing their way up to the breast, opening their mouths, dropping their tongues and latching on their own or with just a little guidance. Here are some things you can do to help make breastfeeding easy:
• Right after your baby is born, let her lie skin to skin on your chest until she breastfeeds for the first time.
• Keep your baby with you. Share a room with your newborn.
• Learn to identify your baby’s early hunger cues as it is best to start breastfeeding with a calm, quiet and alert baby. Some early hunger cues include:
- rooting (moving her head side to side with an open mouth when her cheek is touched);
- sticking her tongue out
- sucking on her hands
• If your baby is crying, don’t force her to breastfeed. First, soothe your baby by holding, swaying, walking or rocking her then try again.
How Do I Help My Baby Latch On Deeply?
In laid-back positions, gravity helps the nipple reach the comfort zone.
In other positions, you may need to work harder to help your baby latch
deeply. As you guide your baby to a deep latch:
• Guide your baby’s body gently into you with her nose pointed up and
her head tilted back a little (avoid pushing on the back of her head).
• Hand express a drop or two of colostrum or breast milk.
• Brush your nipple back and forth on your baby’s upper lip until your
baby opens really wide, as wide as a yawn.
• Bring your baby towards you, chin first. You can gently press between your baby’s shoulders with the palm of your hand that is supporting her. Guiding her this way, the nipple points up, towards the softer part of the roof of your baby’s mouth-the comfort zone.
That last gentle push helps the nipple reach the right spot. Breastfeeding tends to feel better when your baby latches on asymmetrically, so that more of the areola (the dark part around your nipple) under the nipple is in her mouth than on top of the nipple.
What are the Signs of a Good Latch?
• You feel a tugging but no pain, rubbing or pinching while breastfeeding.
- Some discomfort the first minute or two of breastfeeding as your baby latches
on can be normal the first few weeks.
• Your baby’s lower lip is rolled out.
• Your baby has most of your areola in her mouth.
• Your baby’s chin is touching your breast and there is a small space between her nose and your breast.
If breastfeeding hurts, seek help right away from a board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). The sooner you get help, the better.
What Else Can I Do If I'm Still Having Trouble?
If your baby has trouble taking the breast, shaping the breast may help. To do this, be sure your thumb and fingers run in the same direction as baby’s lips (Imagine your thumb or finger as your baby’s moustache). Keep your fingers back, out of her way. Compressing the breast will help make it like the shape of a sandwich and a little easier to grasp. Your fingers will make the shape of a C or U depending on your baby's position.
This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or healthcare provider.
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