Initiate feeding when you think your baby should be starting to get hungry, before your baby shows signs of hunger. Starting before baby is too hungry will give you plenty of time to work on getting a good latch while baby is still calm and not overly hungry.
A good beginning position is the “cradle hold,” where the mom sits upright in a chair or bed and holds her baby straight across her chest.
Begin by getting yourself situated into a comfortable position, with lots of pillows to support your back, neck and arms and the baby. Once you get your baby latched, you may be in this position for a long time, so take the time to get yourself comfortable.
After you are situated, lay your baby on a regular or nursing pillow on your lap. Be sure the pillows lift your baby up to the level of your breast – you will want to bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to your baby. Make sure your baby looks comfortable. Her head should be even with her body.
Baby should begin lying across the mother’s lap, tummy to tummy, with his nose aligned with the mother’s nipple.
Mother should hold the breast with her hand in a “C” position (fingers well back from the areola) and tickle the baby’s lip with the nipple to encourage the baby to open her mouth – wide. Baby’s mouth should ideally “gape” open at around a 140-160 degree angle (from the corner of the mouth).
As the baby’s mouth opens wide, bring the baby to your breast (NOT breast to baby), with the chin touching first and the baby’s mouth covering as much of the areola as possible. Baby’s lips should always be flanged out and more of the areola should be covered by the baby’s lower lip than upper lip.
Assess the Latch
If you are comfortable and your baby is sucking and swallowing, then you probably have a good latch! If you do not have a good latch, remove baby from the breast and start over. Unlatch baby by inserting your pinky finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth and sweep your finger along the baby’s lips until the “seal” is undone. Then remove your baby from the breast.
Some tenderness may be expected during initial breastfeeding, but any actual discomfort should immediately be brought to the attention of a Lactation Counselor.