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Common Concerns with Breastfeeding the First Weeks

Two of the most important details about breastfeeding that can be worked out before you go home are positioning of the baby on the breast, and proper latch. Your lactation consultant or nurse can help you with this and even after you go home you will have access to help if needed (see article on lactation support).

The photo below shows a proper latch. Baby’s lips are flanged out and she is lying tummy to tummy with mom. This allows the tongue to go under the nipple, almost all of the dark part of the nipple (areola) to be in the baby’s mouth, and the baby to breath easily through the nose. You can also have a pillow under your elbow for support while you nurse so that you are relaxed and can enjoy quiet time with your baby.

The first photo is of a baby in a cradle hold. You can also hold your baby in a football hold while nursing which is shown below.

This might be especially helpful if you have a cesarean section and it is uncomfortable to have the baby lie directly on your abdomen.

While attached at the breast, you should relax your shoulders and sit without being hunched over your baby as it may cause back and shoulder tightness. Remember to use pillows wherever needed to support your posture and your baby’s position at the breast.

Beginning in the proper position with baby tummy to tummy, you will use your nipple to gently tickle the baby’s cheek which will cause her to turn towards the nipple. Do this until the baby opens very widely and then quickly move her to the breast as described above with her lips flanged outwards and most of the areola in her mouth. You should hear a cycle of suck-swallow-breath while your baby is nursing. When this stops, you can break the suction by using your pinky finger placed between the baby’s lips and the breast in the corner of her mouth before pulling away.

Dr. Cheryl Sharp, Chief Content Officer
Cheryl is a midwife and women's health nurse practitioner who has been caring for women, newborns, and families more than 30 years. She views the opportunity to journey with women through their pregnancy and beyond as a sacred privilege.