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How to Breastfeed

How to Breastfeed

Tips for making breastfeeding easier for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding is a natural way to feed your baby and has many benefits for both you and your little one. But it can take some practice. These breastfeeding positions and tips can help you and your baby learn how to breastfeed together.

Breastfeeding positions

There are lots of breastfeeding positions out there. The best one? That depends on your comfort and your baby’s latch. It can take a bit of trial and error to find the optimal position for you and your little one. Two common nursing positions are the cross-cradle and football hold techniques.

Cross-cradle technique

The cross-cradle breastfeeding position can be a comfortable one for moms and can be especially good for babies requiring extra head support. It can also give you more control over your baby's latch.

  1. Position the baby. Position your baby's head near your right breast, with their body extending towards your left side. For added comfort, place a pillow across your lap to support the arm holding the baby.
  2. Support the head. With your left hand, place your thumb and index finger gently behind each of your baby's ears while your palm rests between their shoulder blades. Turn their body toward you, with your bellies touching.
  3. Position your breast. Hold your breast and squeeze slightly to ensure a comfortable grip.
  4. Bring the baby close. Lift and bring the baby closer to you rather than leaning down toward the baby. A pillow on your lap can also help raise your little one to nipple level.
  5. Guide the latch. As your baby opens their mouth, gently guide their head with your hand to assist with the latch.

Repeat the directions for the opposite side.

Football hold technique

The football hold breastfeeding technique, also called the clutch hold, can be helpful for moms healing from a C-section or for those with larger breasts. Since this position allows babies to take milk more easily, it can be a good position if you have a forceful letdown. Moms of twins? This may become your position of choice as it allows you to feed both your babies simultaneously.

  1. Position yourself. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight. You can use a pillow to support your back or arms.
  2. Position your baby. Place your baby on your lap, facing your side, with their head level with your breast.
  3. Support your baby. Use your arm on the same side as the breast you are nursing from to support your baby's back and legs. Gently hold the base of your baby's head with your hand.
  4. Support your breast and help your baby latch. Use your other hand to support your breast. Gently lift your breast and bring it towards your baby's mouth. To help them latch, ensure your baby's mouth is wide open.
  5. Massage your breast. Once your baby is latched on, you can gently massage your breast to express some milk. This can help to make the latch more secure.

Repeat the directions for the opposite side.

How to help your baby latch

Babies are born with the reflexes needed to nurse, but that doesn’t mean it happens effortlessly. Try these four breastfeeding tips to help you and your little one learn to nurse.

Guide your baby to latch on

Pull your baby close so their chin hits your breast. This should make your baby’s mouth open wide. Stroking their cheek or lips also encourages this response. Aim the lower lip well below your nipple so your baby gets a mouthful of the breast—this shouldn’t hurt, so if it does, try to readjust.

Find a comfortable position

When positioning yourself, it’s better not to lean forward or back. If it helps, tuck a pillow behind your back for support. A nursing pillow can help make it easier to support your baby. Switching between different positions can also prevent soreness and clogged milk ducts.

Keep up your milk supply

Let your baby nurse on-demand and alternate which breast you offer first. Or, offer both breasts at each feeding.

Soothe your baby

The skin-on-skin contact provided by breastfeeding is a source of comfort to your baby and can facilitate feedings. Speaking softly to your little one while nursing can also help. Your baby has heard your voice for months while in your womb, so now it’s a calming and familiar sound to them out in the real world.

How long should you breastfeed your baby for?

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months with continued breastfeeding along with introducing appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years of age or longer.

When to transition away from breastfeeding

The decision on when to transition from breastfeeding is a personal one. It can be influenced by various factors, including your or your baby’s health and comfort, lifestyle changes, and personal preference. Here are a few things that may play a role in your decision:

The introduction of solid foods. Around six months of age, you can begin to add solid foods to your baby’s diet. Beyond 12 months, you can keep breastfeeding as long as both you and your baby find it comfortable.

Pumping breast milk. Once breastfeeding is well established, about the time your baby is three to four weeks old, you may want to pump your breast milk and introduce a bottle.

Formula supplementation. Some moms choose or are advised to supplement nursing with formula-feeding. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as a baby has a medical issue or the mother is returning to work.

Consult with your pediatrician or lactation consultant when considering the best time to transition from breastfeeding. They can provide expert guidance tailored to you and your little one’s specific needs and circumstances.

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All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.