Let your Baby Lead the Way

Let your Baby Lead the Way

As a mother, you want to help your baby breastfeed. But many times, our help confuses the baby and results in uncomfortable, ineffective breastfeeding. Many of you have already experienced the “help” of a well-intentioned nurse or lactation consultant that results in a crying, resisting baby and a stressed-out mom. It is not necessary to force a baby’s head to mom’s breast or hold him there against his will. Healthy newborns are equipped with instincts and reflexes that facilitate breastfeeding.

To let your baby use his instincts, position him on your lap so his head is slightly under your right breast. He will be resting comfortably on his back. Your right hand can support your breast if that’s comfortable for you. Your baby’s top lip will be aligned with your nipple and his head will be tipped back slightly. His left arm can be around your waist or tucked along his side against your belly. Support him with your left forearm—your hand just behind his ears, at the base of his neck. Your palm should be between his shoulder blades. Do not touch the back of his head. Lift baby so his chin touches the underside of your breast near the outer edge of the areola. His nose should be away from your breast. If he’s interested in nursing, he will tip his head back and open his mouth wide. At that moment, you can lift his torso slightly so he can latch on. Baby’s upper lip will barely cover the nipple. Do not try to center the nipple in your baby’s mouth.

You can also try positioning your baby on your lap, supporting him so that his left cheek rests on top of your right breast. Hold him so that his head can move freely and the nipple is just out of reach. He will open his mouth and turn his head to find your nipple and begin breastfeeding.

If your baby is latched on correctly, it will be comfortable for both of you. His nose should be tipped away from the breast and his chin and chest tucked in firmly against your body. You will hear rhythmic swallowing.