Whilst we’re told that it’s the most natural thing in the world, the truth is that for many of us, breastfeeding just doesn’t come naturally! Sore nipples, engorged breasts and a hungry baby aren’t a great combination, throw in a splash of tiredness and a dash of desperation and you’ve got all the ingredients for a breastfeeding meltdown. The key to breastfeeding really is in your positioning, your comfort and keeping relaxed (we know, more easily said than done!). We’ve got some great advice from Nikki Khan, a practising midwife since 1989 and is the perfect person to be advising Now Baby mums on how to make breastfeeding as comfortable as possible.
Are you sitting comfortably…?
The key to a successful, and enjoyable, breastfeed is getting the latching correct, which all comes down to positioning.
If baby is in the incorrect position whilst feeding not only could there be problems with latching and sore nipples, but baby could have issues with swallowing or may develop gastric reflux, and mum can easily start to get back and arm pain.
There are lots of different positions that work brilliantly for a successful breastfeed, whilst using a high quality nursing pillow will optimise the comfort of each position.
However, before you start thinking about positions and nursing pillows, remember these basics to a successful feed…
- Make sure you are comfortable in a chair supporting your back with your bottom back in the chair rather than perched on the edge for the feed and your nursing pillow nearby, especially in the early days when baby needs more head support!
- Have everything on a table near you – drinking water, telephone, pen and pad and a muslin cloth.
- Ensure your feet are on the floor and you are not on tiptoe! Some mums use a footstool or another pillow under their feet to ensure the position is maintained
- Remember: ‘Tummy to Tummy ‘
- ‘Nose to nipple’- Bring your baby to your breast, so he is facing your nipple, and does not have to turn his head to reach it. His nose, rather than his mouth, should be in line with your nipple, allowing your baby room to tip his head back before latching on
Nursing pillows are designed to help support your baby in the correct position for breast-feeding, providing vertebral support for mum, or even helping dad during a bottle feed.
A good breast-feeding pillow can reduce slouching as you breastfeed, which will prevent back pain and help properly position baby tummy-to-tummy and at a good height to avoid slouching during a feed.
Breastfeeding Positions to Try
The preferred nursing position is a very personal choice, but some are better for you than others! Here are a selection that are great for both you and baby. Give each one a go, complete with your choice of nursing pillow, and see what works best for you.
1. Cradle Hold
The most common, ‘traditional’ hold. Place the nursing pillow on your lap, and hold the baby in the cradle hold with his or her tummy against yours. Use the nursing pillow to support the baby, and release your arm once your baby has latched on, allowing you to have a hand free during the feed!
This is an ideal position as your baby grows heavier.
2. Underarm/ ‘Rugby’ hold
This position is known as the ‘Rugby‘ or ‘Underarm’ hold as the mum is supporting her baby under her arm. Place the nursing pillow along the side that you will be feeding on and position baby with his feet facing your back, under your arm
- Often used for mums who have had a caesarean section to avoid the little one kicking the wound!
- Particularly useful for women with large breasts or for smaller babies
- Allows baby’s head to tilt back, making attachment to the breast easier in the early days
3. Cross Cradle Hold
This position works well in the early days of feeding, or if mum has difficulty latching her baby on.
With nursing pillow on lap again, baby is supported with the arm opposite from the side mum is feeding from and is lying on his side, facing mum, leaving his head free to tilt back and latch on
4. Lying Down
This position is particularly useful for night feeds or when the mother is feeling unwell.
The same principals apply of ‘nose to nipple’ and ‘tummy facing mummy’s tummy’, but both are lying on their sides facing each other and the baby is held close by the mother’s upper hand.