breastfeeding tips – good posture while breastfeeding

Most small babies breastfeed anywhere between 8 to 12 or more times each day, so it is important that you find a comfortable position to feed in that is not going to lead to back, neck or shoulder strain.  One of the best breastfeeding tips is to remember to always bring baby to the breast to feed, rather than bringing your breast to the baby by leaning forward or slouching sideways. In the early days it can help to have someone watch you breastfeed, as they are often able to more easily see if you are in an awkward position.

Baby needs to be positioned at a height that makes it easy for him or her to attach to the breast. For small babies it can sometimes help to use a pillow on your lap to lift them up closer to the breast. Many mothers also find a pillow under their elbow or in the small of their back can help them maintain a relaxed posture while feeding.

There are several different positions that can be comfortable for breastfeeding, including the laid-back position (leaning back slightly while sitting, with baby lying tummy to tummy on you), cradle hold (baby held horizontally across your front, tummy to tummy), football hold (baby held under your arm with feet facing backwards) and feeding lying down. There are also many individual variations of these positions. There is really no ‘wrong’ position; if it is comfortable for you and your baby is able to feed easily then it is the ‘right’ position for you.

breastfeeding tips – Attachment is the key to comfortable breastfeeding

‘Attachment’ means how your baby’s mouth is attached to the breast so he or she can feed.  A ‘good attachment’ means there is no pain or discomfort for mum and baby is able to get as much milk from the breast as he or she needs.

A baby who attaches well to the breast can help prevent many breastfeeding problems and good attachment also helps ensure a good milk supply so baby grows well.

Babies breast feed, rather than nipple feed so good attachment involves baby having a good proportion of the areola (the red/brown area surrounding the nipple) in their mouth, rather than just the nipple itself.

To check that baby is attached well, look for these signs:

  • Chin is pressed into the breast and nose is clear or only just touching the breast.
  • Lips are flanged out, not sucked in.
  • Tongue is forward over the lower gum (may be difficult to see — don’t pull him away to check or you might detach him).
  • Your baby has much of the areola in his mouth, more so on the ‘chin side’.
  • There is no pain (new mums may feel a stretching sensation as the nipple adjusts to being drawn out).
  • You may notice your baby’s whole jaw moving as he sucks and even his ears wiggling. He should not be sucking in air or slipping off the breast. His cheeks should not hollow as he sucks.

Breastfeeding should not hurt and breastfeeding pain while feeding can be a sign that attachment isn’t quite right. If breastfeeding is painful you should seek help from your midwife, child health nurse, lactation consultant or Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor for personalised breastfeeding tips.

For more information on breastfeeding, visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s website www.breastfeeding.asn.au