Photo Credit: Raphael Goetter
I knew I was in trouble the moment I attempted to nurse for the first time. You see women nursing with their babies cradled in their arms and it looks so natural. When I tried to do that, I realized that the babies neck was not at a natural angle and was not getting a good latch. It hit me that I had no idea how to hold her. The nurses quickly corrected her positioning a bit but I couldn't figure out how to do it comfortably.
I wasn’t until I had the lactation consultant visit me at home that I was shown the Cross-Cradle Position, which is how I still nurse. I know someone who holds the baby in the Football, or Clutch, Position and is able to walk and multitask while nursing. Others prefer laying down with their babies. I have tried various positions but none of them feel as good to me as the Cross Cradle. You find what you are comfortable with.
The most important thing to remember when breastfeeding is how your baby is positioned. Baby must be facing you, tummy to tummy (unless the hold does not permit). Baby’s nose and mouth should be directly in front of the nipple and offset just enough so that the baby needs to open wide and jut their chin onto your chest. If the baby has to turn or wriggle for comfort, the latch will suffer. When the latch is wrong it leaves Mom sore and baby unsatisfied, so this is really important. This diagram is a great visual for proper latch when Breastfeeding.
It is also important to remember your own comfort. My favorite place to nurse is in a firm leather chair that we have in our family room. My feet are set flat, my back needs just a small pillow for support and the arms are perfect for propping a pillow to support my arms. I have nursed in many uncomfortable positions and it has taken it’s toll on me physically. I tend to hunch and strain when I am not focused and my upper back and neck scream sometimes. I suffered from pinched nerves in my left shoulder after having two under two because of bad habits I have tried hard to break.
I also recommend the assistance of a nursing pillow. Some people say it facilitates bad form, but I could not disagree more. I have both the Boppy and My Brest Friend and I love both for different things.
The My Brest Friend is wonderful for the early days when you are learning because it stays put. There is no sliding, slouching or adjusting. You buckle it around you and you are good to go. I keep this one in my bedroom to use at night, sitting on my bed. When I am groggy and disoriented in the middle of the night, I like the structure it provides.
The Boppy supports you when you are sitting in a chair or on the floor (which sometimes I do when I am playing with the older kids). I also love the Boppy for bottle feeding. It's great support for the arms and baby. It’s easy to adjust and remove if necessary and it multitasks as a pillow for the baby. I lay the baby down on it to keep him elevated (with supervision), place him on his belly for extra lift at tummy time and to prop the kids up when they are just learning to sit on their own and need support. It’s also an awesome neck pillow when baby is done with it ;)
What tips do have for new Moms on this topic? What position was your favorite?
The next installment of the series will be on Milk Supply.
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