- A newborn is very alert the first hour of birth. Let your baby relax on your chest without clothes. They will start to stick their tongue in an out, and knead their fingers in the breast like a kitten does. This means it’s time to latch on! Gently scoot them near the breast! Don’t rush the moment, just allow it to happen naturally.
- Your job is to get your baby close to your nipple so that they can nuzzle and lick your skin for a while first. That part is normal and a necessary first step to breastfeeding! Babies have some expectations; they expect to be on your chest naked and they want to know you. Their experience of life is through their mouth. Relax and allow your baby to learn more about who you are through normal infant behaviors before breastfeeding.
- Getting that first latch: tickle their upper lip, wait until they open wide, then pull your baby in towards your breast! You want to have your baby rolled inward toward you before you latch, so that you are tummy to tummy. Line your baby up close to nose to nipple right before you tickle the upper lip side to side with the nipple! I usually guide women to use the “cross cradle position” which is one hand on the breast and one hand holding the baby.
- Does it hurt/pinch? Breath through it and count to ten, if it still hurts, unlatch right away by breaking suction with a finger placed into the corner of your baby’s mouth. Slowly insert your finger into their mouth and trade out a nipple for a finger! Never pull a baby off a nipple without breaking the seal first! It will probably hurt if you do.
- What are a few reason for the pinching? Number one is typically that their mouth wasn’t open wide enough before you pulled them toward you for latching. Be patient and really wait for the wide open mouth! When you see it quickly pull your baby onto the breast.
- The second common reason for a pinchy latch is that they need to be tummy to tummy with you or they end up pulling the nipple a bit. Spending time lining your baby up into a comfortable position is key.
- New babies have three jobs! 1.) Look cute, 2.) Smell good, 3.) Open wide.
That’s it! Your baby can’t get to you yet, so you have to really pull your baby in for a good latch to happen. Once they open wide you can stuff lots of breast into their mouth. That’s how babies get a deep latch and plenty of milk!
- “My baby is asleep, can I let him just sleep?” A newborn is going to need to be reminded gently during the first few day that it’s time to eat. Hospitals might say every 3 hours, but as an IBCLC I’m going to share the following information. Babies that gain weight well, eat every 1.5-2 hours in the first few days. This means that long periods of rest are not normal. Try and feed your baby very frequently. Your job is to offer the breast.
- If your baby is just born try and get a latch in the first hour. It’s not called the Golden Hour for nothing! babies that get latched on right away statistically breastfeed better, and more effectively for the following feeds.
- In the case of a surgical birth or a situation where there is separation, do your best to either start breastfeeding as soon as you are together or start manually moving out milk no later than hour four. Ask for a pump, use breast compressions, and don’t let anyone get in the way of your success!
(c) Serena Meyer, RN, IBCLC 2016