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Breastfeeding your child is one of the best things you can do for your newborn. It offers a variety of healthful benefits. Here are some tips on how to make it easier for you to do.

Try to place baby at the breast as soon as possible after birth. Ideally, this will happen right in the delivery room. Ensure that your practitioner will allow you to nurse in the birthing or delivery room if all goes normal.

Babies only minutes old will often crawl up to the breast from the mother's abdomen, and start breastfeeding all by themselves. This process may take up to an hour or longer, but the mother and baby should be given this time together to start learning about each other. Babies who "self-attach" run into far fewer breastfeeding problems. This skin-to-skin contact will also help keep the child warm.

Try to get some professional help, such as a lactation specialist. In the hospital, you can ask if a lactation consultant or a nurse who is knowledgeable about breastfeeding can observe your technique. If you leave the hospital before receiving any guidance, make sure that someone with breastfeeding expertise evaluates your technique.

If possible, try to stay in the same room with your baby.

Limit visitors to allow more nursing opportunities. This may mean limiting visiting privileges at first to just your spouse. This is probably better anyway, since it allows the three of you to bond right away.

Mothers and babies learn how to sleep in the same rhythm. Thus, when the baby starts waking for a feed, the mother will also start to wake up naturally. The baby shows long before he starts crying that he is ready to feed. His breathing may change, for example. Or he may start to stretch. The mother, being in light sleep, will awaken, her milk will start to flow and the calm baby will be content to nurse.
A baby who has been crying for some time before being tried on the breast may refuse to take the breast even if he is ravenous. Mothers and babies should be encouraged to sleep side by side in hospital. This is a great way for mothers to rest while the baby nurses. Breastfeeding can be relaxing, not tiring. If possible, try not to use artificial nipples.

Check out the website of the Association of Breastfeeding Counsellors (Malta) - a branch of the Cana Movement.
Babies will take whatever method gives them a rapid flow of fluid and may refuse others that do not. Thus, in the first few days, when the mother is producing only a little milk and the baby gets a bottle from which he gets rapid flow, he will tend to prefer the rapid flow method.
Just because a baby will "take both" does not mean that the natural method is not more beneficial.

Nurse on demand, up to twelve feedings a day. This will keep your baby happy and will increase your milk supply to meet the demand as it grows.
Also, don't let your baby sleep through a feeding. If it's been three hours since your newborn last fed, then it's time to wake him or her up.

Nurse for as long as the baby wants. Most newborns require ten to forty-five minutes to complete a feeding. Try not to impose too many restrictions on the length or frequency of breastfeeding. A baby who drinks well will not be on the breast for hours at a time. Thus, if he is, it is usually because he is not latching on well and not getting the milk that is available. Get help to fix the baby's latch, and use compression to get the baby more milk.

Don't try and feed your baby if she is screaming. If crying has begun, do some rocking and soothing before you start nursing. You can also try offering your finger to suck on until the baby calms down.

The key to successful breastfeeding is a proper latch. Before you leave the hospital you should be shown how to get your baby latched on properly. You should also know that he is actually getting milk from the breast.

Position yourself comfortably with back support, pillows supporting your arms and in your lap, and your feet supported by a footrest or a telephone book.

Position baby close to you, with his hips flexed, so that he does not have to turn his head to reach your breast. His mouth and nose should be facing your nipple. If possible, ask your helper to hand you the baby once you are comfortable.

Support your breast so it is not pressing on your baby's chin. Your baby's chin should drive into your breast.

Attach or latch baby onto your breast. Encourage him to open his mouth wide and pull him close by supporting his back (rather than the back of his head) so that his chin drives into your breast. His nose will be touching your breast. Your hand forms a "second neck" for your baby.

If you are feeling pain, detach baby gently and try again. As long as you are comfortable and baby is nursing successfully, use whatever works for you. There are a variety of breastfeeding positions to try. It is very important to bring the baby to your nipple height. Leaning over your baby can cause backaches, neck and shoulder strain, or sore nipples.

Most people agree that, under normal circumstances, breastfeeding is best for your baby. It provides the perfect nutrients and has many known benefits:
  • A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Many of the ingredients of breast milk are not found in cow's milk.
  • Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula. The proportion of protein in mother's milk is lower than in cow's milk, making it more digestible. The protein that is present is more nutritious and digestible that the major protein component of cow's milk. The mother's fat is also more easily broken down . Infants also have an easier time absorbing the important micronutrients in breast milk than those in cow's milk.
  • Breast milk has agents (called antibodies) in it to help protect infants from bacteria and viruses and to help them in fighting off infection and disease. Breastfed babies are less subject to lower respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, ear infections and septicemia. Virtually no baby is allergic to breast milk, while certain substances in cow's milk can trigger allergic responses.
  • Human milk straight from the breast is always sterile, never improperly prepared, contaminated or spoiled.
  • Breastfeeding saves time and money. You do not have to purchase, measure and mix formula, and there are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night.
  • Breastfeeding also helps a mother bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted.
  • Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds gained from pregnancy. It also helps the uterus to get back to its original size more quickly and lessens any bleeding a woman may have after giving birth.
  • Breastfeeding may lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Nursed babies are healthier. The rates of constipation and diarrhea are lower in breast-fed children. Also, breastfeeding is less likely to cause overweight infants or obese children later in life.
  • Breastfeeding is convenient for the mother. It requires no planning, packing or equipment. It is always available, and at just the right temperature.
The most important part of breastfeeding is getting the baby to latch on correctly. If the baby latches on poorly, then he will be limited as to how well he will get milk. Further, by latching on poorly the baby may cause the mother to be in pain. And since the child is not receiving adequate milk supply, he will have to stay on the breast for longer periods of time, further aggravating the pain.
Thus, it is important to optimize the baby's position in the early weeks,and ensure that he or she is latched on correctly. Proper positioning will help eliminate many cases of sore nipples. Here are some basic positions to use when breastfeeding your baby. Use the ones that you find are most effective and comfortable for you.
The Cradle Position
The cradle position is most commonly used after the first few weeks and gives you the most control of your baby. Your baby should be lying on his side, resting on his shoulder and hip with his mouth level with your nipple. Use pillows to lift your baby and support your elbows so that you can bring your baby up to nipple height. This is especially important during the first few weeks.
Support your breast while your baby's head is on your forearm. His back will be along your inner arm and palm. When you look down, you should see his side and his mouth should be covering at least a half-inch of the dark area around your nipple. Be sure his ear, shoulder, and hips are in a straight line. As a newborn, your baby's head and bottom should be level with each other.
The Cross Cradle Position
This variation of the cradle position involves your baby being supported on a pillow across your lap to help raise him to your nipple level. Pillows should also support both elbows so your arms don't hold the weight of the baby or they will tire before the feeding is finished.
If you are preparing to breastfeed on the left breast, your left hand supports that breast and you support your baby with the fingers of your right hand. Do this by gently placing your hand behind your baby's ears and neck with your thumb and index finger behind each ear. Your baby's neck rests in the web between the thumb, index finger and palm of your hand, forming a "second neck" for baby.
The palm of your hand is placed between his shoulder blades. As you prepare to latch your baby on, be sure his mouth is very close to your nipple. When baby opens his mouth wide, you push with the palm of your hand from between the shoulder blades. His mouth will be covering at least a half-inch from the base of your nipple.
Clutch Position
Also known as the 'football hold,' this is an ideal position for women who have just had a Cesarean birth, since it keeps the child away from your incision. It is also used in situations when the mother has a more forceful milk ejection because it allows the child to handle the increased flow more easily.
For this position you should support your baby's head in your hand and his back along your arm beside you. Your child should be facing you, with his mouth at nipple height. Your baby's legs and feet are tucked under your arm with his hips flexed and his legs resting along side your back. The soles of his feet are pointed toward the ceiling (this keeps him from being able to push against your chair.) Pillows will help bring the baby to the correct height.
Side Lying Position
This is a comfortable position, especially at night or when you are feeling tired. With this position, both mother and baby lie on their sides facing each other. You can use pillows behind your back and behind or between your knees to help get comfortable. A pillow or rolled blanket behind the baby's back will keep him from rolling away from you.
The baby can be cradled in your arm with his back along your forearm. Having his hips flexed and his ear, shoulder and hip in one line helps your baby get milk more easily. Some mothers find that practicing with this position during the daytime is very helpful.

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