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How to Breastfeed Your Baby: The Basics

It’s helpful to know that newborns have very small stomachs, which can’t hold a lot of milk. This is why the first milk your breasts make is called colostrum, which is a very concentrated form of breastmilk. The small stomach size is also why your baby wants to feed so often at the beginning.

How to breastfeed your baby
How to breastfeed your baby

How to Breastfeed Your Baby: The Basics

Feeding your baby may be a natural process but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Many mothers struggle when first trying to get their baby to breastfeed, so if you are having difficulties remember you are not alone. The Public Health Agency of Canada has just released some tips for mothers to help them with breastfeeding, read on for an overview!

Newborn Anatomy

It’s helpful to know that newborns have very small stomachs, which can’t hold a lot of milk. This is why the first milk your breasts make is called colostrum, which is a very concentrated form of breastmilk. The small stomach size is also why your baby wants to feed so often at the beginning.

Reading Your Newborn

It helps to learn the cues your baby gives when they want to feed. Most parents don’t know at the beginning that crying is a late-stage cue and the baby will usually need to be calmed down before feeding. Some of the signs to look for are: 

  • The rooting reflex: your baby will turn their heads and open their mouths in search of food when they are touched on the mouth or cheek.
  • Putting their hands to their mouth: when a baby’s hands are free, they can more easily show that they are hungry.
  • Smacking, sucking or licking of lips.

Comfort for Both of You

To make breastfeeding more comfortable and easier for both of you, pay attention to how you position yourself. Try sitting or lying comfortably with pillows for support. There are many breastfeeding positions so try a few until you find one that works better for you. If you’ve had a C-section you may need some help at the beginning to get into a comfortable position. You’ll want to relax your shoulders and bring the baby to the breast as opposed to bringing the breast to the baby.

Proper Positioning

Bring your baby close to you and hold them tummy to tummy with their nose to the nipple and their chin to the breast with their bottom tucked in close to your body. Always support the baby’s head and neck firmly but don’t push the back of their head toward the breast, this can cause them to push away. When you rest your baby’s chin on your breast keep their nose to the nipple until your baby’s mouth opens big, like a yawn. They should then move their head back and take a big mouthful of the breast. You can also try touching your baby’s mouth with your nipple until their mouth opens wide. It can help if you hand express some milk and leave a few drops on the nipple to get your baby’s attention.

Finishing Up

While your baby is feeding, both of their lips should be rolled outwards rather than tucked tightly inwards. This means they’ll have a good seal on the nipple. The sucking will feel gentle at first but then get stronger. Your baby should establish a rhythm of one or two sucks than a swallow, then a pause to rest. When your baby stops feeding or comes off your breast, burp them before you switch to the other breast. If you need to take your baby off the breast, carefully place a finger in the corner of their mouth until you break the suction.

These tips can help you have a more successful first try with your newborn. When it goes well early on it can be a big confidence booster! But even if you’re still struggling, don’t give up hope. With experience both you and your baby can learn how to make nursing work.

For more information on breastfeeding, head to our website for all the tips and tricks you’ll need to know about feeding your newborn!

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