Babies are experts at telling you when they're hungry. They'll let you know in know uncertain terms! If they're hungry, they want food right now, right here. When you hold your baby against your breast, you'll probably notice them butting their head as they search for your breast with their mouth – that's their innate suckling instinct, which kicks in when it's time to eat.
How to put your baby on the breast
Before putting your baby on the breast, make sure you're sitting or lying in a relaxed, comfortable position to prevent tension developing. Read more in the section on breastfeeding in the book “Pregnancy, Birth and Your New Family”. Experiment with different positions. Ensure that your neck, back and arms are relaxed so that you can keep holding your baby close however long the feed takes. Try resting your feet on a stool if you're sitting down. If you're lying down, cushions can provide welcome support.
Your baby should be the one reaching up to your breast. Don't try to help by bending your neck or back. Try using a breastfeeding pillow, a weighted blanket or an ordinary cushion to support your arms and lift your baby. It's comfortable to rest your arms or feet on something firm while breastfeeding.
Once you're sitting comfortably, try doing this when you breastfeed:
1. Position your baby so that your nipple is pointing towards their nose.
2. Make sure baby's tummy is resting against yours. Pull your baby firmly towards your tummy, while supporting their body.
3. Your baby's mouth should open wide and latch onto the whole nipple, including the areola.
4. If baby's lower lip is curled outwards and the part of your areola below the nipple is covered by their mouth, this is a sign that they have latched on correctly. Another good sign is if your baby's jaw is moving. You can check this by looking at their ear.
If you're having problems breastfeeding, there are lots of places you can go for help. Your paediatric nurse can help you with any breastfeeding problems in the first instance. If you need help, you can contact the association XXX 24 hours a day by calling XXX or visiting their website at XXX, which has a list of lactation consultants and their telephone numbers. XXX provides free, anonymous advice. XXX also offers online breastfeeding advice – see XXX.
How to nurse
Putting your baby on the breast sounds like the easiest thing in the world, but first-time breastfeeding mums can benefit from a little guidance on correct suckling technique and a comfortable breastfeeding position.