Breastfeeding was supposed to be so simple. Your body makes the milk, your baby needs and wants the milk, shouldn’t it be straightforward? Sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t – especially if you’re a new mom, or it’s been a while since you had someone rooting away at your breasts 24/7.
5 Techniques to Try When Breastfeeding Seems No- So-Simple
When the going gets tough for breastfeeding women, hang tight! It’s time to up your ante and apply these 5 lifesaving breastfeeding techniques.
- Find a lactation consultant near you. While this may not be a direct “technique,” taking advantage of the resources around you is a valuable life This one, in particular, will go a long ways towards getting professional breastfeeding support near you. Your birthing center or OB/GYN should have referrals for CLCs in your area. CLC’s go through rigorous education and training, rivaling that of nurses and healthcare professionals (if they aren’t healthcare professionals already) – all solely geared towards breastfeeding. If not, or you didn’t particularly like the lactation consultant you worked with first, keep trying. There’s a lot of great ones out there and they are true lifesavers. You can also find a CLC through your local La Leche League chapter, where breastfeeding support, war stories, triumphant stories and breastfeeding tips abound.
- Join the La Leche League. And that is a great segue to another technique that can be a tremendous support – join your local LLL chapter. Most chapters meet once or twice a month, although leaders and co-leaders are often available to provide support in between times. Babies are welcome, and the group provides a safe, compassionate and fun place to discuss your breastfeeding challenges and triumphs, and to hear about others’ experiences. Plus, you get to meet other moms who are in the same stage of life as you are – and may even form some life-long, family friendships.
- Be open to trying new positions. We automatically go to an image of the “cradle position” image when we think of breastfeeding. In fact, there are all kinds of breastfeeding positions – some of which work better than others depending on your body and your baby. Most mothers and babies find different positions for different scenarios, ages, sizes, etc., so odds are you’ll eventually work your way through all of them at some point. In the meantime, check out the LLL’s How Do I Position My Baby to Breastfeed page and scroll down to get a glimpse at other position options. You may find you and your newborn are more “laid back” breastfeeders or that you prefer the “football position.”
- Just use pressure. There are two ways “pressure” can be used to facilitate the breastfeeding experience. For new moms, or moms that have been away from a newborn for longer than anticipated, engorged breasts/nipples can make it difficult for the baby to latch on because the nipples and breast fronts are so swollen. In this case, you can use what is called “reverse pressure softening (RPS).” Read “Try Reverse Pressure Softening First,” for a detailed explanation. The simple version is to use the tips of your fingers – three or four – to gently but firmly press straight in on the areola – around the nipple. You hold consistent, “straight in” pressure for 60- to 180-seconds. The pressure forces fluid back, away from the ducts, which softens the nipple, making for an easier latch. Pressure can also be helpful when your milk lets down and one side gushes like a fountain as the baby nurses on the other. Applying direct pressure across the front of the breast/nipple – gently and firmly – using the flat of the hand or bent forearm will slow the tide. Over time, this reflex will tone down a bit, to the point where nursing pads can be more effective.
- Take advantage of nursing pads. The first several months, leaking or downright squirting can be an issue. A clean shirt can go from dry to “Whoops! I’m lactating!” in matter of seconds. Even a year or so into breastfeeding, leaking can still happen when your baby – or another baby – cries, or when you’ve been too long without the ability to nurse or pump. Nursing pads are helpful – but make sure to change them regularly. You may find it convenient to a nursing pad to help keep track of which side should be nursed next. Keep a pad on the side that should be nursed next – then, next time around, you’ll know where to put baby and you can swap the nursing pad or put a new one in the other side to catch any post-let-down leakage.
Do you have a lifesaving breastfeeding technique to share with the WHA followers? Please share it with us using the comment box below.
Photo by Tuomas_Lehtinen Freestockphotos.net