Positioning and Latching When Breastfeeding

Positioning and Latching When Breastfeeding

Successful breastfeeding depends on 2 key elements – positioning and latching.

This is essential to prevent problems such as sore nipples, engorgement, mastitis and low milk supply.

Positioning is the position in which you lie or sit to feed your baby. Latching is the way your baby draws the breast into the mouth.

The Madonna position  – Is the most common position. Baby lies on your lap, head on in the crook of your arm. Comfortable for an older baby.

Cross-cradle hold – Support your breast with the hand at the same side eg. Left hand supports the left breast and hold baby with the opposite hand. Let your baby’s shoulders and neck rest in the palm of your hand. You can see what is going on and aim your nipple towards your baby’s palate. Rest your arms on pillows.

Football hold – Great for beginners. Baby lies next to you with his/her body on your forearm. Neck and shoulders rest in the palm of your hand. This is an ideal position if mom has had a Caesarean, as there is no pressure on the wound. Also, if baby is sleepy and sucks weakly. Baby must lie tummy to mummy (on his/her side).

Reclining position – Baby lies flat on the bed next to you or let baby lie on your arm. Roll up a blanket behind your baby, a pillow behind your back and a pillow between your knees. Great position if mom has had a Caesarean, great for feeding at night and does take a little mastering. Catch up on a snooze, read a book, relax!

Getting started

Make sure you have water to drink, rooibos tea and tasty snacks at hand. A comfortable chair, pillows for propping up your elbows, maybe a foot stool. Get your partner to assist you in the beginning. Use pillows for propping up under your arm.

Always eat well, 5 meals a day with snacks.  Have a high protein diet like cashew nuts or peanut butter sandwiches for those extra quick snacks when your day is busy. Rest when your baby sleeps and take care of yourself.

Always bring your baby to your breast and not your breast to your baby. Don’t lean forward over your baby, bring your baby to breast height using your supporting arm. Don’t lean over your baby, you will suffer with back pain. You will then automatically lean back, if your baby slips off the areola he/she will be sucking on the nipple resulting in sore nipples and an aching back.

Position your baby’s mouth and nose where your nipple falls naturally. Support your breast. Babies breast feed and don’t nipple feed. Your baby needs to take a large part of the areola into his/her mouth and will get enough milk as he/she will be pressing the breast tissue between his/her tongue and palate.

Remember breastfeeding is a learned process and you and your baby will find your way to what is comfortable and what suits you.  Please do not hesitate to speak to a Lactation consultant if all is not going according to plan. A slight change in position, words of encouragement etc, may be all that is required to guide you in the direction of the most wonderful breastfeeding experience.

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