Many of the mums I visit are struggling to position and attach their babies to the breast. They are finding breastfeeding painful and uncomfortable. My job is to work with them and help them find more comfortable ways to feed their babies.
Over recent years I have noticed a recurring theme, lots of mums who are finding it difficult are sitting upright or even leaning forward over their baby. In these positions gravity is working to pull the baby away from the mum’s body, which is the opposite of what works best. Mum is then having to work hard to hold the baby close to the breast, often pushing on the back of the baby’s head to get them to latch. In the early newborn days, breastfeeding can be time consuming and as a result these mums are spending long periods of time in discomfort with shoulders, arms and wrists hurting as well as nipples!
We then try this…..
First of all sit in your chair or sofa and get yourself comfortable. Lean back and relax into the sofa, take away the pillow you had behind your back as it is pushing you forward. Instead use the pillow to support under your elbow and this will help support your arm and reduce strain on your shoulder.
As you lean back gravity is going to help you hold the baby, lessening the work for your arms. The baby will be fully supported by your body as he/she lies against you. Position the baby so they lie on top of your body, you will find the whole frontal aspect of your baby’s body will be in contact with you. You may notice your baby lies diagonally across your body and your arm, on the same side as the breast you are feeding from, will come around and support your baby.
The baby’s chin contacts the breast, the nipple sits above the top lip and these cues trigger baby’s mouth to open, the tongue to come forward and they latch onto the breast.
Many mums are amazed at how their baby responds and attaches to the breast in this position. It works because it taps into the baby’s inborn reflexes.
I started to think about this after hearing UK Midwife Suzanne Colson speak and then began to put some of her research into practice with the mums I visit.
Here is a link to her video to see this different approach in action. http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/video/bn3clip.html
Suzanne also has other helpful information on her website, with a section especially for mothers.