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How to breastfeed

There is no single way to breastfeed that will suit all mums and babies so it is important to get help and support with positioning and attachment when your baby shows signs of wanting to feed. 
 
You may have read about ‘demand feeding’ or ‘baby led feeding’. These terms simply mean feeding your baby whenever he or she wants to feed and for as long as he or she wants to feed.  

Feeding cues

Rather than wait until your baby starts to cry before offering a breastfeed it is best to look for early signs or feeding cues as a guide to when your baby wants to feed.
 
Such signs include getting restless, sucking on his hand or fingers, mouthing, or making little sounds or turning his head towards the breast.

Understanding breastfeeding

 
One of the first things to understand about breastfeeding is how the baby attaches to the breast – the way that the baby takes the breast into his mouth. 
 
If attachment is good the baby will be getting enough milk and breastfeeding will feel more comfortable from the mum’s point of view.    

The baby attaches well by approaching the breast with his chin leading, he opens his mouth wide and the mother’s nipple is aimed towards the roof of his mouth. 

His mouth is full of breast tissue so that his cheeks look full and rounded.
If any of the mother’s areola (darker skin around the nipple) is visible there is more above the baby’s top lip.

His lips will be curled back and he will suck rapidly to make the milk flow but the sucks will become deeper with pauses between once milk is flowing (approximately 1 to 2 sucks per swallow). 
 
The second important thing to learn is the position that baby needs to be in to allow him to attach properly.
 
He should be held close to his mum’s body with his head, hips and knees all facing the same way so that he does not have to turn his head to reach the breast. 
 
He should be held so that his nose is opposite mum’s nipple so that he can tilt his head back and reach for the breast with his chin leading.
 
Mum will need to take him swiftly to the breast when he opens his mouth wide.
 
If the attachment is not comfortable for mum, or if the baby is not happy at the breast, it is important to take him off and get a better latch.
 
This can be done by putting your little finger at the side of his lip and gently breaking his suction.
 
Both mum and baby should be comfortable so that they can enjoy feeding for as long as necessary.

Different ways of holding your baby for breastfeeding

As long as you follow the basic principles described above there are many different positions to feed your baby and the two of you will learn them together. 

Becoming familiar with different positions is useful because this can help to empty the milk from the breast effectively which is important in helping to avoid problems.
 
View this website for feeding positions 

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