The first few nursing sessions can be tricky. You may be new at this, and certainly your baby is. Even a woman who has breastfed before may be surprised by a very different baby than her others. Nature is on your side here, so be patient with yourself and your baby. Take your time. Offer your breast every time the baby signals interest by moving his mouth, smacking his lips, nuzzling his face against you, or chewing his fist. Try not to wait until the baby is really hungry. If you or your baby become frantic, stop, cuddle, and calm down. Try taking off your top and bra so you have less to fuss with. If you're having trouble getting your baby to latch on, don't panic. It doesn't always go smoothly at first, but with persistence and support, breastfeeding can almost always work.
Perfecting the Latch
The foundation of a successful breastfeeding experience is a comfortable nursing position and a good latch. If this is your first child, this whole breastfeeding thing is going to seem very new to you. Luckily, it's a natural part of caring for your baby, and most people find it's smooth sailing after a few initial bumps. Follow these steps for success:
Get comfortable. You should be sitting or lying in a relaxed position, with your arms, back, and neck well supported.
Make sure you're tummy to tummy with your baby. He should be level with your breast — use pillows to boost him if necessary — and his face and body should both be turned toward you. It's very difficult for a baby to suck and swallow if his face is turned toward you but his body is turned away. Make sure his ear, shoulder, and hip are aligned.
Hold your breast in one hand, and your baby's head with the other. Try holding your breast with a “C”-hold: with the weight of your breast in your hand, wrap your thumb around the top of your breast, just behind the areola. This position will help you support and control your breast and make it easier to get enough areola into your baby's mouth.
Wait until your baby's mouth is open wide. Tickling his cheek or bottom lip will stimulate his rooting reflex and may encourage him to open his mouth.
If your baby likes to try to get his hands in his mouth, it can make getting a good latch difficult. Try swaddling your baby so that his arms are held down at his sides, or enlist help.
Pull your baby onto your breast with your nipple pointed at the roof of his mouth. Make sure you bring the baby to you, rather than hunching or leaning over to put your breast in his mouth.
If at any time you think your baby isn't latched on correctly, break the latch and try again. To break the suction, insert your finger into the corner of his mouth and pull away from your breast. If you try to pull your nipple out of your baby's mouth without breaking the suction first, it can really hurt.
Try these methods:
Look at your baby's lips. They should both be visible. If either lip is tucked in along with your nipple, break the latch and start again.
Pull back your baby's lip to check whether his tongue is positioned properly. It should cover his lower gum line. If your baby's tongue is making a clicking sound while he nurses, or you can't see his tongue at all, he may be sucking it along with your nipple. Break the latch and start again.
If you think your baby is sucking on his tongue, or if it doesn't look like he has a good latch with at least an inch of areola in his mouth,