Let Your Baby Take the Lead

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As a mother, you want to help your baby breastfeed. But many times our well-intentioned “help” confuses the baby and results in uncomfortable, ineffective breastfeeding.

To let your baby use her instincts, position her on your lap so her head is slightly under your right breast. Your right hand can support your breast. Your baby’s top lip will be lined up with your nipple and her head will be tipped back slightly. Support her with your left hand just behind her ears, at the base of her neck. Your hand should be between her shoulder blades. Do not touch the back of her head. Lift her so her chin touches your breast. Her nose should be away from your breast. If she’s interested in nursing, she will tip her head back and open her mouth wide. At that moment you can lift her torso slightly so she can latch on. Her upper lip will barely cover the nipple. Avoid pushing her nose to the breast. Do not try to center the nipple in your baby’s mouth.

You can also try positioning your baby on your lap, supporting her so that her left cheek rests on top of your right breast. Hold her so that her head can move freely and the nipple is just out of reach. She will open her mouth and turn her head to find your nipple and begin breastfeeding.

If your baby is latched on correctly, it will be comfortable for both of you. Her nose should be tipped away from the breast and her chin and chest tucked in firmly against your body. You will hear rhythmic swallowing.

See also, “Your Baby is a Mammal!

Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com

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