Whether you use a specially designed nursing pillow or several cushions when feeding your baby will depend on many factors - the size of your baby, your breasts and whether you are long in the waist or not. Experiment with different techniques during the early days until you find one that suits both you and your baby. The mothers I worked with found that having several differently sized cushions worked much better as they can be moved around and adjusted during the feed. Often, when a specially designed breastfeeding pillow is used, the baby remains in the same position throughout the feed, lying flat along the pillow and becoming very sleepy as a result. Not properly finishing the feed means that the baby often wakes up an hour later looking to be fed again.
Preparing for the feed
- Set out everything that you need next to where you will be feeding well in advance. For example, a large glass of water and snack for yourself, along with tissues, muslin, bib etc.
- It is important that your back is really straight during feeding. This is to prevent backache, which is a common problem when breastfeeding, and it will also help prevent future back problems. If need be, place a cushion or pillow behind your back for support.
- Place the side of your baby's bead in the crook of your arm, and tuck the arm that is nearest your body around your side, in order to bring him closer to you. His tummy should be facing your tummy and his body should be slightly angled so that his head is higher than his tummy. This will help avoid trapped wind, which is more likely to happen if the baby is lying flat.
- His head should be close to your breast, but very slightly tilted back so that his nostrils are free to breathe.
- Use your free hand to support your breast, place you fingers under the breast, and your thumb on top, ensuring that they are all behind the areola.
- Bring the baby closer to you and use your nipple to gently stroke his upper lip until he opens his mouth.
- Once his mouth is open wide enough, gently place your nipple and the whole of the areola in the centre of his mouth so that he can latch on.
- If he is positioned properly on the breast, his bottom lip will curl out. If not, you will have to take him off and try again until he is latched on properly.
- To remove your nipple from your baby's mouth, break the suction firmly but gently by slipping your forefinger or little finger into the corner of his mouth and sliding it along until he releases it voluntarily. Do not attempt to pull your baby off the breast as this can be very painful.
- Make sure that you are not leaning forward while your baby is on the breast as this puts pressure on your back, which can lead to tension in your shoulders and arms and may affect your let-down reflex.
- When your baby has finished feeding you should use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze a little milk out of each breast and rub it around the nipple and areola. This will help prevent sore nipples. During the first month of breastfeeding, it will also help if you can allow your nipples to air dry for 10 to 15 minutes after a feed,