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February 24, 2016

Comfortable Positions for Breastfeeding

You will spend a lot of time breastfeeding your newborn. It’s worth the effort to figure out which positions for breastfeeding are comfortable for both you and your baby. 

The following breastfeeding positions have worked for other moms. Feel free to experiment and find out what works for you. After a bit of practice, you may even invent your own! 


New to breastfeeding? Download our free ebook: 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.


Laid Back Breastfeeding Position

The ‘laid back’ position can work well when you and your baby are first learning to breastfeed. It is a relaxed position that helps to prevent muscle tension in your upper back and shoulders.

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How to do it:

  • Find a comfortable place where you can lean back and relax. Lean back far enough so that gravity will help to keep baby close to your body. Use pillows to support your head and back as needed.
  • Baby’s entire body should rest against your body with his cheek resting near your bare breast.
  • Use your arms to support your baby in whatever way feels most comfortable.
  • Your baby will lift his head and use his arms and legs to reposition himself until he finds the nipple. Some babies will need more help than others; use gentle guidance to nudge your baby towards the breast if needed. Remember, it takes practice to make any position work for you and your baby.

In the first few days of life, this position works best when both mom and baby are skin-to-skin (no shirt for mom, baby dressed in a diaper only). This helps to encourage baby’s natural feeding instincts. See this post for a video of baby latching himself (“self attachment”) when his mother is in the laid back position.

Cross Cradle Breastfeeding Position 

The cross cradle hold can also be helpful when you are learning to breastfeed. Premature babies or babies with lower muscle tone can benefit from the extra support this position provides.

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How to do it:

  • Sit comfortably with your feet supported on the floor or a low stool.
  • Place a pillow on your lap to support baby at the level of your breast. This will help to prevent your arm from getting tired.
  • Turn baby on his side with his entire body facing you. His tummy should be tucked against your stomach with his ear, shoulder and hip in a straight line. (To understand why this is important, try drinking a glass of water with your head turned to the side.)
  • If you are nursing from your right breast, lay your left arm along your baby’s back with your hand resting between baby’s shoulders. Support the base of baby’s head, your thumb on one side and your index finger on the other side. (Avoid holding the back of your baby’s head, as most babies will react by pushing away from the breast.)
  • Adjust baby’s position so that his nose is near your nipple and his chin is resting on the breast.
  • Support your breast with the other hand with your thumb and fingers well back from the areola (the brown part surrounding the nipple).
  • Keep baby’s bottom close to you to prevent him from slipping away from the breast.

If your baby needs extra help with latching, try this trick:

  • Gently shape or “sandwich” the breast, using your thumb and fingers. (Imagine eating a large sandwich; it is easier to fit into your mouth if it is flattened first.) Please note: you sandwich the breast to help it fit into baby’s mouth. The flattened part of the “sandwich” should be parallel to baby’s lips.
  • Encourage baby to open wide by tickling his upper lip with your nipple. In response, your baby will lift his chin and gape widely. Aim the nipple towards the roof of baby’s mouth. Baby’s chin should touch the breast first.
  • If your baby is crying or upset, calm him and then try again.
  • Try to get baby’s bottom lip as far as possible from the base of the nipple. The lips should be flanged outwards when latched.

Once baby consistently latches well, you will no longer need to use the cross cradle hold. You can simply cradle your baby in the crook of your arm for feeds.

Football or “Clutch” Breastfeeding Position

The football position works well for large breasted women. It can also be comfortable for those who have had a Cesarean section as it keeps baby’s weight away from the surgical site.

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How to do it:

  • Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet supported on the floor or a low stool.
  • Use pillows stacked at your side to support baby at breast level. If you find baby’s feet push against the back of the chair, put a pillow behind your back. This will move your body forward and give a bit more space for baby’s legs.
  • Tuck baby’s body against your own, legs tucked under your arm.
  • Support baby with your hand between the shoulder blades.
  • Hold baby’s head with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the opposite side, just behind baby’s ears.
  • Use your other hand to support your breast.
  • Position your baby so that his nose is near your nipple and his chin is resting on your breast. Your baby will need to tilt his head slightly and gape widely to latch.
  • When baby’s mouth is wide open, you can gently guide baby onto the breast with the palm of your hand.

Side Lying Breastfeeding Position

Breastfeeding while lying down can be very helpful when you are tired or if your bottom is still sore from childbirth.

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How to do it:

  • Get comfortable lying on your side with a pillow under your head and another behind your back. Some moms also like a pillow between their knees for comfort.
  • Allow your breast to be supported by the bed. You may need to lean back slightly so your nipple will be at a comfortable height for latching.
  • Lay your baby on his side, facing you and tucked close to your body. Baby’s lower body will be touching your tummy. A rolled up blanket behind baby’s back will help to keep him close.
  • Position him so that his nose is opposite your nipple. Baby’s chin should touch your breast. Baby will gape and latch to the breast.
  • When baby is ready for the second breast, reposition yourself onto the other side.

Relax and enjoy different breastfeeding positions. The best position is the one that works for both you and your baby.


To see moms latching their babies in all of these positions, watch our free preview lesson from the Simply Breastfeeding course. (Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the preview button.)


P.S Because we’ve had so many people love this post, we turned it into a downloadable PDF Guide! See below 🙂 


Comfortable Positions for Breastfeeding

References and More information:

  1. “Breastfeeding PositionsHealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015.
  2. Colson, Suzanne. “Laid Back VideoBiological Nurturing. N.p., n.d. Web.
  3. Nagle, Meg. “Video Of The Laid Back Breastfeeding Position-Encourage Your Baby To Self-Attach!The Milk Meg. N.p., 9 Mar. 2014. Web.

 

Keep learning: Latching Your Baby and Breastfeeding Should Not Hurt!

 


thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



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A special thank you to our friend Amy and her beautiful week old son, Matthias, for modelling these positions. -Cindy & Jana

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July 2, 2015

Answers to the Top 10 Questions after a Cesarean Birth

One in every four or five babies in North America will be born by cesarean section (C-section). Sometimes, the C-section is planned in advance; others are done with little or no warning due to last minute complications.

Regardless of the reason, if you have given birth by C-section you will need more recovery time than a woman who has given birth vaginally.  Your questions will also differ. (For answers to questions after a vaginal birth see this post.)

Here are answers to the top 10 questions women ask after their C-section birth.

Answers to the Top 10 Questions after a C-Section Birth

 

1)   How will I control the pain?

 

You will have pain after your C-section but there are excellent medications to make you comfortable. Take your pain medications regularly to stay ahead of the pain, rather than waiting until you are already uncomfortable. If your pain is under control, you will be able to walk, move around and care for your baby more easily.

 

When you are ready to be discharged from the hospital, you will be given a prescription for medication you can use at home. Be sure to take a dose of pain medication before you leave the hospital. Getting home and settled in involves a lot of movement.

 

Once you are home, you may find it helpful to have a written medication schedule, or a phone reminder to take your next dose. You will have better pain control if you take more medication before the last dose has completely worn off.

 

Learn about medications and breastfeeding in this post.

 

How will I control the pain Answers to the Top 10 Questions after a C-section.

 

2)   How will I know if my incision is infected?

 

The first sign of an infection is usually increasing incisional pain, despite taking the same amount of pain medication. Other signs include:

  • fever
  • redness of the skin around the incision
  • thick yellow or yellowish-green drainage (pus)

 

A small amount of bleeding or pinkish colored drainage from your incision can be normal: it is important to watch the color of the drainage. If you notice thick pus, be sure to contact your health care provider.

 

The stitches you can see on the outside hold only the outermost layer of skin together. There are multiple layers of sutures underneath. If the outer skin edges of your incision  separate slightly, don’t be alarmed. It is important, however, to watch for signs and symptoms of infection (reddened skin, fever, thick yellow or green discharge). If the separation appears to be deeper than just the skin edges, notify your doctor.

 

3)   Will I be able to breastfeed?

 

Yes! You can breastfeed as soon after surgery as you are comfortable. Most C-sections are done with an epidural or spinal block. With this type of anesthesia, you will be awake but free from pain. Many hospitals are beginning to put baby on mom’s chest in skin to skin contact after a C-section birth.

If you had a general anaesthetic for your c-section, you may breastfeed as soon as you are awake.

It can be more challenging to find comfortable nursing positions after a C-section birth. Many women like to use the football hold, side lying or laid back positions as it keeps the weight of baby off their incision.

 

P.S We’ve created a free ebook to help pregnant women get ready for breastfeeding: “5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.” Download it here.

 

4)   Why am I feeling so emotional?

 

Women feel emotional after the birth of their baby! Sometimes the emotions may be those you were expecting: euphoria, instant love. Other times, the emotions may not be what you expected. If your C-section was unplanned, you may feel even more emotional. Some women feel their body has let them down. Others report feeling a dull, flat or disappointed feeling after birth. Still others are embarrassed to admit they feel no connection to their baby.

Having a baby can be a very overwhelming experience. There is no right or wrong way to feel. A difficult delivery, or one that didn’t go as you envisioned may make it worse. Talk to your loved ones or your health care provider about the way you are feeling. Please know that even if you feel disconnected from your baby, feelings of connectedness will come in time. Taking time to rest and care for yourself is important.

Postpartum blues are common in the first few weeks. If these feelings do not resolve in the first few weeks or the symptoms worsen, you could be suffering from postpartum depression and may benefit from treatment and a support group. Please talk to your loved ones and your health care provider about the way you are feeling.

 

 

5)   How soon can I resume regular activity?

 

Even if you do not feel like it, it is important to get up and begin moving within 24 hours after surgery. Get assistance, as you might feel a bit weak at first. Start with just a few steps and gradually increase the distance you walk. Walking is important to keep the blood circulating in your legs and to lessen the chance of developing a blood clot. Walking also helps to get your bowels moving. Your body will tell you if you are overdoing it. If your blood flow increases in amount or becomes bright red, you may be doing too much.

When can I resume excercise after a c-section Answers to the Top 10 Questions after a C-section

 

6)   How much weight can I lift?

 

You have had surgery involving your abdominal muscles. Heavy lifting heavy can put too much strain on your incision. Try not to lift anything heavier than your new baby for at least the first 3 weeks (some doctors would suggest 6 weeks). Pay attention to your body. If it seems like too much, it probably is.

 

 

7)   When can I drive?

 

It may take 3-6 weeks before you can comfortably resume driving. Pushing on the brakes or turning your body to shoulder check can be hard on your incision. Do not drive if you are taking narcotics for pain.

 

 

8)   When can I have a bath or shower?

 

Once your dressing has been removed (usually 24 hours after surgery), you can take a shower. This will help to keep your wound clean. Gently pat your incision or allow it to air-dry. (Some women use a hair dryer on the low setting to dry their incision.) If you find your tummy folds over your incision, hold your abdomen back to expose it to allow air. Do not soak in a bathtub for at least 2-3 weeks as this can increase the chance of infection.

How soon can I have a bath or shower Answers to the Top 10 Questions after a C-section

 

9)   What if I have to cough or sneeze?

 

After a C-section, coughing or sneezing can be painful! Using a small pillow or a folded towel, put gentle pressure on either side of the incision as you cough. This will help to lessen the discomfort.  Keep your pillow or towel close by; you never know when you are going to need it!

 

 

10)  Will I have vaginal bleeding?

 

Many women are surprised to learn that they will have vaginal bleeding after a C-section. The bleeding comes from the place where the placenta was attached to the uterus and from the sloughing of the lining of the uterus. The bleeding is lighter than after a vaginal delivery and usually only lasts up to 6 weeks.
Recovery after a C-section takes time and will vary from mother to mother. Try to be patient with your body throughout this healing time.

 

 

Other suggested posts: How to Know When Fatigue is More Than Just Fatigue and 6 Tips for Surviving the Newborn Period.


thumbnail cindy and jana

 

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.


 

 

3 comments

May 1, 2015

Vaginal Birth Recovery: Top 10 Answers You Need To Know

After a vaginal birth, you will have tons of questions! Much of your time and energy will be spent focusing on your newborn. It can be easy to forget that you have just been through labour and delivery. You may have some special questions and concerns of your own. 

Here are the answers to the top 10 questions women ask after a vaginal birth. (We answer the top questions after a C-section in this post.)

Answers to the Top 10 Questions after a Vaginal Birth

1) How long will I bleed?

Blood flow can last for up to 6 weeks after baby’s birth but for most women, it will subside sooner.

  • For the first few days after baby’s birth, your blood flow will be bright red and about as heavy as your menstrual period. You may notice a small gush when you stand up after sitting or lying down. Although this may seem alarming, it can be normal. The blood can pool in your vagina while you relax. When you suddenly change position, it comes out in a ‘gush’. If you have flow so heavy that you completely soak a maxi pad, from front to back, in less than an hour, you need to seek medical attention.
  • By the time baby is three or four days old, your blood flow should start to become more watery and pinkish in color.
  • By 8-10 days after delivery, your blood flow should be mostly yellowish-white in color.

If your flow had subsided but it becomes bright red and heavy again, it could be your body’s way of telling you that you are overdoing it. Try resting to see if it subsides. Bleeding that stays bright red past the first week is unusual; see your healthcare provider.

2) Are blood clots normal?Are-blood-clots-normal2-254x300

Occasional small blood clots are normal. By “small”, we mean clots the size of a $1.00 Canadian coin or smaller. Blood clots are dark red in color and appear jelly-like. After passing a clot, it is important to watch your blood flow carefully for the next hour. If you should completely soak a maxi pad, from front to back, in less than an hour, seek medical attention immediately (go to the closest emergency room).

It is rare, but a piece of the placenta can be left behind in your uterus after you give birth. When you pass this tissue, it will appear whitish and stringy. Monitor your symptoms a little more closely with this type of clot, as you are more at risk to develop heavy bleeding and infection.

3) How do I take care of my stitches?

  • Keep them clean:

Not all women get stitches after a vaginal birth but if you do, you will need to keep them clean to prevent infection. Use a squirt bottle filled with warm water to clean your bottom after using the washroom. If your stitches sting when you pee, try squirting water as you pee to see if that removes the sting. Drink enough water to keep your urine dilute, as it will then burn less. Your urine should be colorless and not yellow!

  • Decrease swelling:

If your bottom is swollen, using an ice pack during the first 24 hours can be helpful. Some women put water on a sanitary pad and freeze it to use as an ice pack.

  • Soak your stitches:

Soak your stitches in a tub of warm bath water 2 or 3 times a day. This helps to keep the stitches clean and brings blood to the area to speed healing. Some women find air-drying helpful. To air dry, lay on the bed with nothing on your bottom for a few minutes or use a hairdryer on the low setting.

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Fashion a ‘donut’ from a rolled up towel.

  • Sit on a ‘donut’:

If your stitches are painful, try sitting on an inflatable ring (available at most drug stores) or a homemade ‘donut’ (towel rolled up and made into a ring). This helps to take the pressure off your bottom when you sit.

  • Stitches are dissolvable:

Most stitches take up to 3 weeks to heal and will dissolve on their own. If you lose a stitch prematurely, doctors will not re-suture the area. Continue to keep the area clean and air dry to promote healing.

4) Can I take something for pain?

After a vaginal birth, you may have 3 types of pain: pain from an episiotomy or tear, ‘afterpains’ or hemorrhoid pain. Or, you may be lucky enough to have none of these!

  • Episiotomies and tears:

Some tears are quite small and will cause little discomfort. Extensive tears or episiotomies take longer to heal. Tub soaks (as mentioned in #3) help to decrease perineal pain. You may need to take pain medication regularly for the first few days. Most pain medications are compatible with breastfeeding. Ask your healthcare provider for instructions.

  • Afterpains:

You may feel labour-like cramping as your uterus shrinks to its pre-pregnancy size. These cramps are strongest in the first few days after childbirth and should subside a little each day. When you breastfeed, the hormone that releases your milk also causes your uterus to cramp. Although it is uncomfortable, it helps to keep your bleeding under control. Taking regular pain medication can help to stay on top of this pain. If you wait until you experience an afterpain to take medication, the afterpain will be gone before the medication can take effect.

  • Hemorrhoids:

Hemorrhoids can begin during your pregnancy or appear after delivery. Tub soaks may be soothing. Over the counter ointments and creams will help to shrink the hemorrhoid and relieve the pain. If your hemorrhoids are severe, you may need a prescription ointment. Taking oral pain medications regularly can also be helpful.

5) Will it hurt to have a bowel movement? Will my stitches let go?

Women are often scared to have their first bowel movement after giving birth, worrying they will split their stitches open. This trick can help: Using a clean pad, apply gentle counter pressure over your stitches as you push. This can help you to relax enough to pass that first stool.

Drink lots of fluids and eat high fiber foods (such as bran, raw fruits and vegetables) to keep your bowel movements soft. Sometimes, a mild stool softener such as Docusate Sodium is suggested for the first week.

6) When will my milk come in?

You have milk as soon as your baby is born! The first milk is called colostrum. It is a thick yellowish fluid and is produced in small volumes, perfect for the small size of your baby’s tummy. Colostrum is full of antibodies and properties that are important for your baby’s health.

Around the third day after birth, you will notice your breasts becoming heavier. This signals a change to the more mature type of milk. The color changes from a golden to a whitish color and larger volumes will be produced. Read more about milk coming in here.


P.S We’ve created a FREE 3-lesson online video breastfeeding course,“Getting Ready to Breastfeed.” Download it here.


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7) Do I need a special diet when breastfeeding?

There is no need to worry about a special diet when breastfeeding. A healthy diet is all that is needed.

You may hear well-meaning advice from family or friends about avoiding gassy foods such a beans or cabbage etc. This is an old wives tale. Gas from the mother’s intestinal tract cannot be passed into her breast milk. The foods we eat can flavor breast milk but this doesn’t harm the baby; it is thought to be an early introduction to flavors.

An exception to this can be cow’s milk protein found in dairy products. It is rare (only 2-7% of babies), but some babies may be allergic to dairy and react to it in the mother’s diet. You can read more about this problem here.

It is recommended to limit your intake of caffeine to no more than 1 or 2 cups a day. Excessive caffeine may make baby fussy.

Learn more about how to prepare for breastfeeding Download our FREEE ebook:  5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.

8) Why am I feeling so emotional?

Women feel emotional after the birth of a baby! Sometimes the emotions may be those you were expecting: euphoria, instant love. Other times, the emotions may not be expected. Many women report feeling a dull, flat disappointed feeling after birth. Others are embarrassed to admit they feel nothing for their baby.

Why-am-I-feeling-so-emotionalHaving a baby can be a very overwhelming experience. There is no right or wrong way to feel. A difficult delivery, or one that didn’t go as you envisioned, may make it worse. Talk to your loved ones or your health care provider about the way you are feeling. Please know that even if you feel disconnected from your baby, feelings of connectedness will come in time. Taking time to rest and care for yourself is important.

Looking after a newborn is more than a full time job. Coupled with the lack of time to sleep, it is no wonder this is a high-risk time for the flare-up of anxiety and depression.

Postpartum blues are common in the first few weeks. If these feelings do not resolve in the first few weeks or the symptoms worsen, you could be suffering from postpartum depression and may benefit from treatment and a support group. Please talk to your healthcare provider.

9) How will I know if I have an infection?

The most common places to develop an infection after a vaginal birth are your stitches, your uterus and your bladder.

  • Stitches:

The first sign of an infection is increasing pain in your stitches, despite taking the same amount of pain medication. Reddened skin around the stitches or a thick yellow or greenish discharge is also signs to watch for.

  • Uterus:

A foul or rotten odour to your vaginal blood flow can be a sign of an infection in the uterus. (Note: If you are unsure if your flow smells foul, it probably isn’t!) A smell similar to your regular menstrual flow is normal.

  • Bladder:

Symptoms of a bladder infection include burning when you pee, having to pee frequently and a feeling of ‘urgency’ (needing to use the washroom NOW!). Remember, it is not unusual to feel some burning around the stitches when you pee (see point #3).

  • General:

If you should develop a fever in the first 6 weeks after giving birth, please notify your healthcare provider. You may have developed an infection that will require treatment.

10) When can I have sex again?

Let’s face it; it is not the new moms who are asking this question! It is, however, high on the new dad’s list of questions.

The general recommendation is to wait 6 weeks after before resuming sexual intercourse. There are a few reasons why.

The first is an increased risk of infection. Your uterus needs to heal at the site where the placenta was attached. This area is susceptible to infection if bacteria is introduced during intercourse.

Secondly, it may take 6 weeks for the stitches to fully heal and become less tender.

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*Bonus:

11) When can I start exercising again?

The answer to this question can depend on your delivery, the extent of any tears, your hemoglobin and your fitness level throughout your pregnancy. If you exercised throughout your pregnancy and did not have a difficult delivery, you could safely do light exercises such as walking and stretching within a few days.

It is important to listen to your body and cut back if your body says you are overdoing it. Signs you are overdoing it are an increase in your vaginal blood flow or feeling pain and discomfort.

If you were not active during your pregnancy or had a difficult delivery with lots of tearing or stitches, please check with your healthcare provider prior to exercising.

Other posts you may find helpful: Nutrition for New Moms and What you need to know about Breastfeeding and Exercise.

 


thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

 


 

2 comments

April 10, 2014

How to do Hand Expression of Breast Milk

Hand expression is a valuable skill for breastfeeding moms. It takes a little practice but once learned, many women may prefer it to using a pump. It is simple, no equipment required!

Hand expression can be useful:

  • to express a drop of milk onto the nipple to entice your baby to feed.
  • noname-2to soften the breast if you are overly full. Softening the breast by moving the swelling away from the nipple and areola may also be useful. Please see below *.
  • to express milk to store for later use. You can learn about how to safely store breast milk here.
  • to relieve breast fullness or to obtain milk when you are separated from your baby.
  • in combination with pumping to increase your milk supply. At the breast, a baby uses both suction and compression. Pumping provides suction only and hand expression provides compression. Combining the two methods more effectively stimulates milk supply than using one or the other.

How to do hand express (scroll down to see a video demonstration):

1.  Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
2.  Stimulate your letdown by massaging the breasts, stroking the breasts or rolling your nipple.
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3.  Place your thumb and first finger on either side of the nipple about 1½ inches (4 cm) from the base of the nipple.

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4.  Push your thumb and finger straight back toward the chest wall.
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5.  Roll your thumb toward the nipple like you are making a thumbprint. Try to avoid sliding your fingers along your skin as you may become sore.
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6.  Continue this motion, rotating your hand position around the breast to express milk from all areas.

7.  Some women will need to have their fingers closer or farther from the base of the nipple, depending on the anatomy of their breast. It may take a bit to discover the best position for your fingers to obtain milk.

8.  If you are collecting the milk you express by hand, you will want to express into a wide mouth container. Your milk may flow from more than one pore at a time, creating a spray.


Pregnant? Download our free ebook 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding. 


 

 

Moving swelling away from the nipple and areola

If you are having difficulty latching in the early days due to fullness, softening the brown area around the nipple (areola) with counter pressure can make latching easier. You do not need to soften the whole breast, just the area where the baby is going to latch.

  • Imagine where the baby’s lips will be when feeding; this will determine the placement for your thumb and first finger. For example, if you will be feeding in the football position, your baby’s lips will be horizontal across your breast. If you feed in a cross cradle position, your baby’s lips will be in a vertical position on your breast.
  • Push straight back towards the chest wall and count to 10. This will temporarily move the swelling away from the nipple.

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  • Expand the area you are softening by moving your fingers slightly to each side and repeating the process until just the area where the baby latches is softened.

References and More Information:

  1. Hand Expressing Milk.” HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015. Web.
  2. Hand Expression.” Unicef.org.uk. The Baby Friendly Initiative. Unicef UK, n.d. Web.
  3. Newman, Jack, MD, FRCPC, and Edith Kernerman, IBCLC. “Expressing Breast Milk.” nbci.ca International Breastfeeding Centre, 2009. Web.

 

Related posts: Pumping Breast Milk – Everything You Need to Know! and Creating a Stash of Breast Milk.

 


thumbnail-cindy-and-janaCindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



 

2 comments

July 26, 2013

Creating a Stash of Breast Milk


A mother of a newborn wrote to us with the following question:

“I want to build up a stash of breast milk to have on hand for if/when I manage to go on a date with my hubby or an emergency comes up. I am wondering the best way to go about it. I am worried that if I pump a bottle, I am taking away what my baby needs.”

 What a great question! Moms committed to providing breast milk for their babies may want to have some milk in the freezer as an emergency back-up or for a planned night out.

 

How can I express milk without taking it from what my baby needs?

Breast milk is most plentiful is in the morning so women often find it easiest to express their milk then. However, you could express immediately after any feed.

Remember that a baby is always able to get more milk from a breast than a pump, so don’t be alarmed if you only get small volumes.

Women’s breasts will be quite tender in the first couple of weeks after giving birth. You may want to delay pumping until after that time.

How much of a stash do I need?

 Every mom will need to decide how much she thinks she will need. Some moms never express to have extra milk on hand and that’s OK too.

We really do not know how much an individual baby will take at a given feed. Comparing your baby’s intake to a bottle fed peer would not be helpful.  Studies show that breastfed babies drink less volume as they are able to metabolize it more easily. You may want to suggest that your caregiver start with small amounts in a bottle and add more as needed to avoid wasting your precious breast milk.

How long will expressed milk last?

In a refrigerator, freshly expressed breast milk will last up to 5 days. Remember to store expressed breast milk near the back of the fridge rather than on the door to keep it as cool as possible.

In a chest style deep freeze, frozen breast milk will keep for 6 months or longer. Milk stored at the bottom of the freezer will stay coldest when the freezer is opened.

A refrigerator freezer with its own door will keep your milk for 2 to 3 months.

How do I store my stash?

There are many different choices for storing your expressed breast milk. It is recommended to use either glass or BPA-free hard plastic containers. Label the milk with the date it was expressed and use the oldest first.

Since expressed breast milk is “liquid gold”, you may want to freeze it in small volumes (1 – 2 oz./ 30 – 60 ml) to avoid wasting it. Thaw only what you need.

How do I thaw expressed breast milk?

Never use a microwave to defrost or warm up your milk as it can create hot spots. Frozen milk can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight or under warm running water. Once thawed, it should be used within 24 hours. To warm from fridge temperature, run under warm water or place in a container or a pan of water that has been heated on the stove.

Keep learning by reading these posts: How To Hand Express Breast Milk and Pumping Breast Milk – Everything You Need to Know.


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About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

 

 

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 (Photo courtesy of Flickr:  joshDubya)

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