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Preparing to Breastfeed



What do I need to prepare for exactly? Feeding my baby will just be instinctive right? Those are the kinds of things that people say to me all the time in Childbirth Preparation classes and what I always say is that the only thing that is instinctive about breastfeeding is that the baby is hungry and you want to feed them! Nursing a newborn can be very straightforward and easy but it is not uncommon to need some help to get in to the groove of breastfeeding your little one.


You won’t know what challenges you might face until your baby has arrived but I like to prepare parents with some basic concepts to help you identify potential issues and help navigate the first weeks.


Tip 1. Knowing When Baby is Hungry:

Babies give us some early hunger cues before they begin getting really upset asking for milk and its best to catch them early on to not only keep them more relaxed but to avoid you getting equally flustered. Watch for those early cues which include rooting (mouthing around), tongue thrusting, sucking their hands (see image) so that you can avoid the late cues as much as possible.



Expect to feed baby at least every three hours, but more often is also very common. A breastfeed can take anywhere from 20-40 approximately. If your baby feeds less than 10 minutes and falls asleep he needs to be stimulated to nurse for longer otherwise he will likely wake up for another ‘snack’ in 30 minutes.

An example of a normal feed pattern would be: begin on first breast nursing until baby is full (either turns away, falls asleep), then try burping baby, perhaps change a diaper to stimulate baby a little and then switch sides, and feed till baby falls asleep or turns away. That is a complete feed and may take 30 mins approx, with the next feeding, start on the side that you last fed on.


Tip 2. Finding a Good Position:

​I’m sure you’ve seem mother’s of older babies who just show baby their breast and the baby jumps on without any need for guidance.. although that will be you in a few months, it comes with time and unfortunately that is not how a newborn breastfeeds. Finding a good positions to feed a newborn baby is a great start to getting feeding going well. The best positions for newborn feeding are the cradle hold, ross- cradle hold, football hold.



​Although side lying is a wonderful way to nurse through the night, it can be a trickier position to master and can take a couple weeks because you don’t have as much access to your hands so start with the others and work towards this.


Tip 3. A Good Latch is Half the Battle

The way that the baby ‘latches’ to the breast, or begins sucking on the breast is one of the key areas that can cause discomfort. A few ways to ensure a ‘good latch’ try these basic positional tips.


Tummy to Tummy- Make sure baby is facing you so that they are facing the food straight on, not cranking their neck to the side

Nose to Nipple- Having your nipple higher than their mouth ( at their nose) helps baby want to open up really wide to reach the nipple and therefor creates a deeper latch and preserves the integrity of the nipple.


Bring Baby to Breast- Not dipping your body down to bring the breast to baby. I see lots of mom bringing their body down to baby but once baby gets on to the breast mom’s a left hunched over in a back breaking position. Instead simply bring the baby to you so you can sit up comfortably. Remember, you will be doing this 8-12 times in a 24 hour period!




Signs of a good latch:

baby having a wide-open mouth, she shouldn’t be just latched on to the nipple. Look for a lot of the areola in baby’s mouth, lips are flanged out (“fish lips”)

listen for small swallowing sounds (once the milk comes in between day 3-5)

How does it feel? It may hurt for first minute or so but should ease off, it should not hurt continuously.


Tip 4. Nipple care:

Tender or damaged nipples can be a result of a poor latch, so that is the best way to prevent and treat sore nipples. However, there are some other tools to use if your nipples do become tender. After each nursing express a little breast milk and rub it in to the nipple (breastmilk is very healing). Also, it’s a good idea to leave nipples exposed to fresh air and even get a little sunlight (through the window or open air) a couple times a say when possible, it aids in healing. Using a pure lanolin cream can also be very effective in healing sore nipples.

If you need breastfeeding support please do not hesitate to call on The Birthing Tree, we offer a sliding scale for breastfeeding consultations and would be happy to support you and your family.

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