1. What is the secret to preparing for breastfeeding?
Holding the breast properly! The c-hold is the proper way to support the breast when learning to breastfeed and should be practiced by expectant and new mothers because almost every new mom does it incorrectly. How? Moms tend to place the thumb on top (correct) but place the bottom fingers in the wrong place. The bottom fingers need to be near the chest wall. The index finger usually ends up on the bottom of the areola preventing baby from getting a deep latch. Whether you are already breastfeeding or still expecting, check your c-hold in a mirror to make sure your fingers are out of the way. Also make sure the flap of your nursing bra is not in the way. Remember, a new baby cannot support the weight of their own head, let alone your breast so support your breast properly and without hindering the latch. If you are expectant mom, it is not proper to prepare for breastfeeding by toughening nipples, an antiquated practice that breaks down the keratin layer of the skin and is not helpful. It is helpful to test nipples for inversion by placing the fingers 1" behind the nipple and gently pinching to see if the nipple inverts, goes flat or protrudes normally. If it does not, consider using a breast pump to draw out nipples just prior to feeding. A nipple shield is a last resort as it can cause a decrease in milk supply.
2. Line the baby's nose up with your nipple.
3. Use your nipple to tickle the baby's lower lip in a downward motion to elicit the open mouth reflex.
4. Wait for a yawn or cry-wide mouth.
5. Swoop the baby's entire body towards you.
6. Bring the baby's bottom in closer to you. This will dig in the chin and tilt the head slightly.
7. Support the breast for a newborn the entire feeding, but don't forget to relax your shoulders and make sure you have support for your arm as newborns can take 45 minutes to get in 20 minutes of swallowing.
It is best to use the cross-cradle hold instead of the cradle hold when you are first learning to breastfeed because you have more control over the position of the baby's head with your hand than you do in the crook of the elbow. But many moms are very comfortable in this position so moving to this position after the initial latch on as long as you support the breast for the newborn with a rolled up burp cloth is easy to accomplish. Or once the baby has more control over his head or you are a smaller busted mom, you can use the cradle hold comfortably. Just remember the latch positioning discussed previously. Baby's nose should be on target with the nipple. He should be tummy to tummy with mom. His ears, shoulders and hips should be in a straight line as it is hard to swallow with your head turned. Also remember to bring baby to the breast and not the other way around and to relax your shoulders and use something to support your arm.