Breastfeeding can feel like a performance from the beginning. The first time, you might feel tentative and nervous. The second or third time, you’re trying to work out exactly what went wrong the first time so that you can correct it this time around. In general, the learning curve for breastfeeding is steep and often feels unnatural. However, with some practice and support, most women will get the hang of it eventually – but not before feeling as if every other mother has mastered it already.
Breastfeeding support groups and online communities are great places to go for assistance and advice on how to make things easier for yourself. Once you know what works best for you and your baby, most breastfeeding problems are easy to solve in a few minutes: We all hate sitting there holding our breasts all day! But there is some breastfeeding latch trick we don’t always think about until we need them. Here are four helpful ways to make feeding easier for yourself:
Change the position of your baby’s body.
Breastfeeding might feel a lot more natural if you change the position of your baby’s body. Experiment with different ways of supporting your baby while you feed to see which position works best for you, your baby, and the two of you together. Here are a few possibilities: If you notice your baby is having difficulty latching correctly, try placing one foot on your knee and have him face you instead. This can help him get his mouth in the right position so that he doesn’t have to bend and strain to get to your nipple. Try propping one or both of your legs up on pillows. This can allow your baby to get a better latch by bringing his head closer to your breast. If you’re having trouble with your baby’s latch, or if one of your breasts is consistently causing you more pain or discomfort than the other, try repositioning your baby again. Sometimes all you need to do is move a few inches and the latch will improve. Having trouble seeing your baby’s latch? Ask for help. Your partner or a breastfeeding support person can give you some extra hands to help you find the best position for both you and your baby. And don’t forget, you’re not alone.
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Have a squishy pillow between your legs.
Breastfeeding usually puts your legs in an uncomfortable position with your knees together and your feet on the floor. If this is causing you pain, you can elevate your feet on a pillow or small stool (but make sure not to raise them too high, as this can make it more difficult for your baby to latch). Having your legs higher can take some of the strain off your lower back and give your legs a break from the constant pressure. You can also use this method if you’re experiencing clogged milk ducts or mastitis and are having trouble changing positions as often as you’d like because of the pain.
Use a latching technique that works for you.
While some breastfeeding experts suggest that you should latch your baby on the breast at a 45-degree angle, others say to latch your baby straight on. Using a latching technique that works for you can be beneficial if your baby is having trouble latching on one breast or the other. Here are a few different latching techniques you can try: The football latch: With this method, you cup your breast with one hand and use your thumb to push your nipple toward the roof of your mouth. The baseball latch: With this method, you cup your breast with one hand and use your thumb and forefinger to pinch your nipple so that it points towards the back of your baby’s throat. The straight latch: With this method, you cup your breast with one hand and simply use your thumb and forefinger to help your baby get a hold of your nipple. Which latch technique is best for you really depends on your baby’s sucking technique. If your baby is having trouble latching, try changing your latching technique to see if that helps. If it doesn’t, don’t fret. There are plenty of different breastfeeding problems that have easy solutions.
Help is on the way.
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, don’t feel bad. Most new moms have some sort of breastfeeding problem, whether it’s with latching or something else. Remember, most breastfeeding problems can be fixed with a little bit of assistance and some quick adjustments. If you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or simply need help with breastfeeding, there are plenty of people and online resources available to help. Breastfeeding support groups are a great (and free) resource for breastfeeding advice, tips, and tricks. And don’t forget to contact a lactation consultant if you’re really struggling. You and your baby deserve to breastfeed, so don’t give up!