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Breastfeeding the Right Way

Breastfeeding the Right Way

Breastfeeding, also known as nursing involves giving breastmilk to a child. This can be done directly from the breast or expressed and fed to the infant. 

It is a learned skill and many mothers, especially first-time mums struggle at the beginning to get it right.

There is a misconception that every mother should instantly know the proper way to breastfeed her infant and this often leads to the use of the wrong technique and position during breastfeeding.

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When a child is not properly breastfed, they tend to be more fussy and irritable. They also take fewer naps and seek for their mother's breast more frequently. This is a sign that they are hungry and are not getting adequate milk.

On the other hand, poor breastfeeding technique can cause back ache in the mother, along with other problems associated with bad positioning and posture. This makes breastfeeding episodes tedious and unpleasant.

What is the best breastfeeding position?

There are many techniques and positions. The best position for you is the one you are most comfortable with. This position should ensure that your baby's head and body are in a straight line and you are holding your baby close to you, towards your breast.

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To make breastfeeding an easier and more effective process for you and your baby, do the following during each feed.

  • Get comfortable: It is important to relax your shoulders and arms. You can support your arms by placing a pillow underneath if needed.
  • Latching: When your baby attaches to your breast properly, it helps to reduce breast soreness and cracked nipples. Help your baby latch on properly by doing the following:
  1. Hold the baby close to you. The baby’s nose should be at the same level as the nipple.
  2. Place the baby in a position that'll make swallowing easy. Best position for this is to ensure the baby's head and body are in a straight line.
  3. Support their neck and back in a way that makes it easy for them to move their heads and swallow.
  4. It is important to let the baby latch onto the breast themselves by bringing them close to the breast. Avoid forcing the breast into their mouths as this can lead to poor latching.
  5. Their chins should touch your breasts first when their mouth is wide open. Their head will be slightly tipped back. This allows the tongue to cover a wider breast area. 
  6. When feeding, the baby's cheeks will look full and round and you should be able to see more of your areola above than below their mouth.

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Breastfeeding is a skill that requires time to practice. A newborn may breastfeed as much as every 2 to 3 hours, having a total of about 8 feeds per day. This can be a lot of work for the breastfeeding mother. It is therefore important to practice the proper way to position both your self and your child to make feeding easier. Babies communicate their need to be fed by licking their lips, fist sucking, wriggling and turning in search of breast. This can quickly become fussiness and crying.

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For premature babies, a special practice called kangaroo care is encouraged. This simply means that you hold your baby close to you, usually tucked under your clothes with your baby dressed in only a nappy. The skin to skin contact this type of care provides does not only help with increasing flow of breast milk and bond between mother and child, but also provides warmth for the child. 

If you are a new mother and you are worried about the proper technique, you can ask health professionals or experienced mothers to show you the appropriate technique.