2. Have a beverage at your side so you can drink a baby drinks. Avoid anything hot (which could scald you or your baby if it spilled); if you’re not thirsting for a cold drink, opt instead for something lukewarm. Add a healthy snack, if it’s been a while since your last meal.
3. As you become more comfortable with breastfeeding, you can keep a book or magazine handy to keep you busy during marathon feeding sessions. (But don’t forget to put your reading matter down periodically so you can interact with your nursing infant.) In the early weeks, turning on the TV could be too distracting. So can talking on the phone; turn down the ringer and let voice mail pick up messages – or have someone else answer.
4. Get comfy. If you’re sitting up, a pillow across your lap can help raise your baby to a comfortable height. Make sure, too that your, arms are propped up on a pillow or chair arms. Trying to hold 6 to 8 pounds without support can lead to arm cramps and pain. And put up your legs, if you can.
5. Position your baby on his or her side, facing your nipple. Make sure baby’s whole body is facing you –tummy to tummy – with ear, shoulder, and hip in a straight line. You don’t want your baby’s head turned to the side; rather, it should be straight in line with his or her body. (Imagine how difficult it would be for you to drink and swallow while turning your head to the side. It’s the same for your baby.) Proper positioning is essential to prevent nipple soreness and other breastfeeding problems.
Lactation specialists recommend two nursing positions during the first few weeks. The first is called the crossover hold; Hold your baby’s head with the opposite hand (if nursing on the right breast, hold your baby with your left hand). Rest your hand between your baby’s shoulder blades, your thumb behind one ear, your other fingers behind the other ear. Using your other hand, cup your breast, placing your thumb above your nipple and areola (the dark area) at the spot where your baby’s nose will touch your breast. Your index finger should be at the spot where your baby’s chin will touch the breast. Lightly compress your breast so your nipple point slightly toward your baby’s nose. You are now ready to have baby latch on(see step 6).
The second position is called the football hold. This position, also called the clutch hold, is especially useful if you’ve had a C-section and want to avoid placing your baby against your abdomen; or if your breasts are large; or if your baby is small or premature; or if you are nursing twins: Position your baby at your side in a semisitting position facing you, with his or her legs under your arm (your right arm if you’re nursing on the right breast). Support your baby’s head with your right hand and cup your breast as you would for the crossover hold.
As soon as you’re comfortable with nursing, you can add the cradle hold, in which your baby’s head rests in the crook of your arm, and the side-lying hold, in which you and your baby lie on your sides, tummy to tummy. This position is a good choice when you’re nursing in the middle of the night.
6. Gently tickle your baby’s lips with your nipple until his or her mouth is opened very wide, like a yawn. Some lactation specialists suggests directing your nipple toward your baby’s nose and then down to the upper lip to get your baby to open his or her mouth very wide. This prevents the lower lip from getting tucked in during nursing. If your baby turns his or head away, gently stroke his or her cheek on the side nearest you. The rooting reflex will make baby turn his or head toward your breast.
7. Once that little mouth is opened wide, move your baby closer. Do not move your breasts towards your baby. Many latching-on problems occur because mom is hunched over baby, trying to shove breast into mouth.Instead, keep your back straight and bring your baby to breast.
8. Don’t stuff your nipple in an unwilling mouth; let your baby take the initiative. It might take a couple of attempts before your baby opens his or her mouth wide enough to latch on properly.
9. Be sure baby latches on to both the nipple and the areola that surrounds it. Sucking on just the nipple won’t compress the milk glands and can cause soreness and cracking. Also be sure that it’s the nipple and areola that the baby is busily milking. Some infants are so eager to suck that they will latch on to any part of the breast (even if no milk is delivered), causing a painful bruise.
10. If your breast is blocking your baby’s nose, lightly depress the breast with your finger. Elevating baby slightly may also help provide a little breathing room. But as you maneuver, be sure not to loosen his or her grip on the aerola.
11. Check for swallowing. You can be sure that milk is flowing if there is a strong, steady, rhythmic motion visible in your baby’s cheek.
12. If your baby has finished sucking but is still holding on to the breast, pulling it out abruptly can cause injury to your nipple. Instead, break the suction first by depressing the breast or by putting your finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth to let in some air.