As many of my clients know, I struggled to breastfeed my oldest child, Charlie. But to be honest, I didn't know we were doing anything "wrong" because I just assumed breastfeeding was supposed to be painful.
Tip #1: Breastfeeding should NEVER be painful. In fact, if you are experiencing pain, this is a red flag that something needs to be adjusted. In most cases, this is a sign that the latch is off, but it could also identify other potential issues such as a tongue or lip tie, flat or inverted nipples, a strong suck etc.
Tip #2: A good latch. There is a real spot in your baby's mouth called "the comfort zone." You can find it in your own mouth by running your tongue along the roof. At the top of your mouth is your hard pallet, but if you continue to the back, you will find the soft pallet. THIS is where your nipple needs to be in your baby's mouth. To get to this spot, I always suggest a few solid tips including: keep your baby's stomach to your own stomach (tummy to mummy). Next, position your baby's nose to your nipple (not their mouth!). Next, imagine drinking a cold bottle of water on a hot day. Naturally, we throw our heads back, leading with our chin. This will actually makes it easier for your baby to drink! You'll want your baby to have a wide open mouth which can be encouraged by tickling their cheek.
Tip: 3: Play and practice. Don't forget that breastfeeding is a learned skill for both you and your baby. That means that even when your baby is not necessarily hungry, she may want to nurse. This will not only help with bonding, but will also help your baby improve her nursing skills.
Tip #4: Get comfortable. Because you will be nursing frequently and for extended periods of time at the beginning, I always suggest being as comfortable as possible. This often means having a designated area for nursing (comfortable chair, couch or bed) that would allow you to be in a semi-reclined position if needed. You will also need a lot of pillows or blankets to place around you to help support the weight of your baby.
Breastfeeding is hard (understatement of the year). You will likely run into challenges, roadblocks and days you want to throw in the towel. You might breastfeed for 2 years, 1 year or 2 weeks, all of which by the way are AMAZING for your baby. Remember to give yourself some grace and acknowledge that ANY amount of breast milk you can provide to your baby is substantial. More importantly, giving your baby a bottle, supplementing with formula or switching to formula all together is also good! As an Infant Feeding Specialist and Postpartum Doula, I respect and support ALL feeding choices. Please click HERE to schedule a feeding consult or receive additional breastfeeding support.