Breastfeeding is a natural opportunity to communicate love at the very beginning of a child's life, providing hours of closeness, nurturing every day. This is part two of a two part series on breast feeding techniques. There are few ways to ensure that your baby consumes sufficient milk while feeding. Most of these methods are simple and effective.
Latching-on the right way while breastfeeding
If your baby latches on only to your nipple and not the areola, you are likely to develop problems, such as sore nipples and inadequate milk supply for your baby.
How can you ensure correct latching?
- Sit or lie tummy-to-tummy with your baby. Make sure your baby's ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line.
- Bring your baby close to your breast.
- Touch your nipple to your baby's lower lip or corner of the mouth.
- When his/her mouth opens wide, quickly pull your baby in to latch on. Since your baby's mouth will be open for only a few seconds, you will need to pull him/her toward your breast quickly. Bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to his/her head.
- Continue to support the weight of your breast throughout the nursing session. Support your baby's head at the base of the neck as well.
How do you know that your baby has latched on correctly?
Your baby has latched on correctly if:
- Your baby’ s mouth is wide open
- Your baby's mouth surrounds your nipple and about one inch of the areola.
- The lips are turned outward against the breast.
- The motion of the suck is along the jaw, not in the cheeks.
- Breastfeeding does not hurt you.
When your baby has to latch-off
Your baby may latch off from the breast by herself once she feeds well. To actively interrupting the latching, break the suction by slipping your little finger in the corner of your baby's mouth between her gums. Don't remove your baby from your breast until the suction is released, or it could result in sore nipples. The suction is usually quite strong and it may require some effort to release her grip. If the latch is uncomfortable or painful, gently place your finger in your baby's mouth, between his gums, to detach her and try again.
Best burping techniques
Your baby may swallow air and these air bubbles can get trapped in her stomach while breastfeeding. These bubbles can make her uncomfortable and grizzly. By burping your baby, you help her make room in her stomach. Burping eliminates problems like regurgitation and vomiting, abdominal distension and gastric colic.[i]
Many mothers find it difficult to break the wind as they finish feeding their babies. You can practice either of the following methods to burp your baby following feeding:
- Lift your baby up to your shoulder while supporting her head and neck. Pat or rub your baby's back with a firm open hand to help release the trapped air. If you lift her higher and let her belly rest lightly against your shoulder, this can help push out the air inside.
- Sitting on your lap: - Make your baby sit on your lap facing away from you. Use one arm to support your baby's body and the palm of your hand supporting her chest while your fingers gently support her chin and jaw. Lean your baby slightly forward and gently pat or rub her back for a while with your free hand
Burping a sleeping baby
Slowly move your baby next to your body, without waking her up.
- Allow your baby's head or chin to rest on your shoulder and cup their bottom to support them so they don't slip as you hold them.
- Place your other hand on their back and gently pat it to help them burp.
A few useful tips
Always burp your baby when the feeding time is over. For the first 6 months or so, keep your baby in an upright position for 10 to 15 minutes (or longer if your baby spits up or has GERD) after feeding to help prevent the milk from coming back up. But, don't worry if your baby spits sometimes. Remember not to shake the baby or cover the mouth when she vomits. Let the vomitus come out of the mouth to avoid aspiration.
This article has been written by Namitha Subrahmanyam. She has been working as a nurse for over 13 years and holds an M.Sc in OBG Nursing. Presently, Namitha Subrahmanyam is pursuing her PhD and is working as an Associate Professor at the Department of Obstetrical and Gynaecological Nursing of the MOSC College of Nursing, Kochi, Kerala, India.