Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your baby and one of the most amazing experiences after birth. Breastfeeding is a learned experience though; it does not come naturally to most women. Both you and your baby must learn how to breastfeed well together and this takes practice. Those initial weeks can be hard and frustrating. Learn about nursing before your baby is born, find support for those early weeks, and work with your baby. Doing your research can help make breastfeeding one of the most gratifying and enjoyable moments of new motherhood.
Breastfeeding as soon as possible after your baby's delivery and then feeding often is essential for a positive breastfeeding experience. Your baby doesn't need baby bottles or pacifiers during the first few weeks. Breastfeeding requires a different type of suckling than do bottles or pacifiers, and you don't want to confuse or frustrate yourself or your baby.
To ensure a comfortable and pain-free nursing experience, you want to make sure your baby is latched on to your breast correctly. Your baby's mouth should be wide open around your areola with the top and bottom lips rolled out. This is breastfeeding, not nipple feeding—make sure your baby is taking in your entire areola, not just your nipple.
If the latch does not look right or is causing you pain, you need to remove your baby from your breast gently. Carefully insert your finger into the corner of your baby's mouth to break the suction from your breast. Then remove your baby from your breast and reposition until the latch looks and feels right.
When learning to breastfeed, feeding your baby in only one position can really irritate your nipples, leaving them quite sore. If your breasts become sore and irritated, a good lanolin cream can help repair and hydrate your nipples. It is always a good idea to vary your hold in the beginning to change the pressure and contact with your nipple.
There are many positions you can use to breastfeed your baby. The cross-cradle hold is a great position for newborns as it offers the most head support for your baby. The cradle hold works well once you and your baby are comfortable and experienced breastfeeders. The football hold is also great for newborns and is a nice break from the cross-cradle hold as it varies the contact on your nipple.
Whichever hold you use, always remember to bring your baby's mouth to your breast, not the other way around. If you bring your breast to your baby's mouth you will end up in a very uncomfortable breastfeeding position. Make sure your baby's whole body is turned towards you, so that you are touching tummy to tummy, or side-to-side if using the football hold. Your baby loves skin-to-skin contact and this closeness prevents your baby from straining to reach your breast. A breastfeeding pillow can help you achieve the right position to ensure you are both comfortable and relaxed when breastfeeding.