breastfeeding attachment – Tips for optimal breastfeeding attachment

We encourage breastfeeding as this provides your baby with the ideal food to help them grow or and develop.  It helps to be prepared so find out your local breastfeeding support network or resources in your area.  After you go home, if you have any queries about breastfeeding you can call the ABA breastfeeding support helpline – listed below.

Breastfeeding has many benefits for you and your baby.  Breast milk provides all the nutrition and essential nutrients that your baby needs for the first six months of their life, reduces the chances of catching nasty bugs like gastro and conditions like eczema and respiratory infections.  Breastfeeding is amazingly convenient and you can breastfeed anywhere without having to worry about sterilising equipment or heating up bottles.  Breastfeeding saves money and time.

Getting your baby to properly attach to the breast is very important in order to properly drain the breast of breast milk, and to avoid major issues down the track such as grazed and sore nipples. A well attached baby will feed well and put on weight, and should not cause any pain to the breast. If a baby is not attached properly this can lead to mastitis which is caused by blocked ducts in the breast and needs to be treated with antibiotics by your doctor or GP to clear.  Breastfeeding attachment is very important and can mean better health for you and your baby both now and in the future.

Prior to breastfeeding attachment:

To start with make sure your baby is calm. If you feel that your baby is not calm, you can try soothing techniques such as skin to skin contact or other techniques such as rocking or stroking your baby. Breastfeeding is as much a natural process as a learned skill for many mothers, whether it’s your first, second or third time. You will also start to recognise feeding cues from your baby such as turning their head from side to side and sticking their tongue out which is important for you to see the signs of a hungry baby.

Ready for optimal breastfeeding attachment:

Once your baby is calm, guide the baby to the breast. There are a number of positions you can adopt for breastfeeding, including the cross cradle hold, underarm football, or lying down.

Steps to attach your baby in the cross-cradle hold

  1. Make sure your sitting with your back and feet supported. Position your breastfeeding pillow onto your lap.
  2. Hold your baby along your forearm, supported on your breastfeeding pillow.
  3. Turn him onto his side with his chest towards you, head tilted slightly back, at the same level as your breast. His nose should be level with your nipple.
  4. Gently brush your baby’s mouth with the underside of your areola. Your baby should open his mouth wide when you do this.
  5. Some women find holding the breast (like you would a sandwich) allows the baby to take in more of the breast and therefore easier to attach.
  6. When your baby opens his mouth wide and his tongue comes forward over his lower gum, bring him quickly to the breast with your nipple aimed at the roof of his mouth. His first point of contact will be his lower jaw or chin, on your areola well down from the nipple.
  7. As his mouth closes over the breast he should take in a large mouthful of breast.
  8. Some women find that their breasts become engorged, especially soon after their milk comes in. If this happens, then expressing them prior to feeding the baby will help to soften around the areola therefore attach more easily.

Checking your baby is well attached for best breastfeeding attachment:

  • Chest to chest and chin to breast is a quick way of describing good positioning. His whole body should be very close to yours, like you are ‘wearing’ him.
  • Not sure about pain? There should be only a stretching sensation as the nipple adjusts to being drawn out, but breastfeeding shouldn’t feel painful.
  • Baby has much of the areola in his mouth.
  • Chin is pressed into the breast and nose is clear or only just touching the breast.
  • Tongue is forward over the lower gum., you may not be able to see this.
  • Look at your babies jaw as he sucks, it should be moving and ears wiggling. He should not be sucking in air or slipping off the breast. His cheeks should not hollow as he sucks.

Running into problems such as, feeding is hurting.

  • To take the baby off your breast, insert a clean finger in the corner of his mouth to break the suction.
  • Look at your nipples. If they are creased, ridged or squashed, blistered, cracked or bleeding this means the baby is not properly attached.
  • Try to re attach when you and your baby are ready.
  • Try to re adjust your position, i.e. hugging the lower half of your baby’s body in, as this helps to allow your baby’s chin to further press into your breast.

Breastfeeding Out and About:

At the beginning, feeding your baby in public may seem daunting, but with a little preparation and practice you will feel more comfortable and confident about it.  Here are a few tips to get you started: 1) Plan Ahead – before you go out, think about where you are going and what the seating arrangements will be.  Ask breastfeeding friends to recommend café’s and restaurants they’ve found to be breastfeeding -friendly.  2) Consider your clothing – are your clothes stretchy enough to accommodate breastfeeding? Will you and the baby feel covered and comfortable? Bring scarves or breastfeeding blankets to pop over your shoulder to give you a little more privacy during breastfeeding. 3) Know your rights there are in fact laws in place to protect the rights of women who breastfeed in public.

If you have any concerns about breastfeeding attachment, please contact the Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268) to speak to a counselor.

You can also find more information for the ABA website.