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How to nurse

How to nurse

Putting your baby on the breast sounds easy, but all mothers breastfeeding for the first time can do with some guidelines on the correct sucking technique and a comfortable breastfeeding position.

Babies are experts at telling you when they’re hungry. They'll let you know in no uncertain terms! And if they’re hungry, they want to feed now. When you hold your baby against your chest, you'll probably notice them pushing with their head and probing for your breast with their mouth - this is your baby’s inborn sucking instinct, which kicks in when it's time to start breastfeeding.

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 any tension developing in your body. Experiment with different positions. Make sure your neck, back and arms are comfortable so you can keep holding your baby close to you however long the feed takes. If you’re sitting, try using a stool for your feet. If you’re lying down, cushions can provide welcome support.

Your baby should be the one reaching up to your breast. Don’t attempt to help by bending your neck or back. Try using a tri-pillow, a folded blanket or an ordinary pillow to support your arms and lift baby up. It’s comfortable to rest your arms or feet on something firm while breastfeeding.

Once you’re sitting or lying 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, supporting their body.
3. Your baby’s mouth should open wide and latch onto the whole nipple, including the areola, all the time staying wide open. You can help baby’s mouth to open fully by gently holding their chin down.
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 baby's jaw is moving. You can check this by looking at their ear.

If you’re having problems feeding there are lots of places you can go to get help. Your LMC should help you with any breastfeeding problems in the first instance. If you need more support, phone the Plunket Family Centre and ask to see a lactation consultant or phone PlunketLine 0800 933 922. You can find a private lactation consultant on www.nzlca.org.nz – there will be a charge. La Leche League offers breastfeeding support – visit www.lalecheleague.org.nz

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