Breastfeeding Your Baby
Find the hold for breastfeeding that works and learn how to encourage a baby who won’t latch on.
Breastfeeding is an intimate affair, and a natural way for you to feed your baby, and develop a bond. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding as the preferred way to feed your baby.
It begins with finding an ideal position that is both comfortable and easy for your baby to latch on.
You can choose two ways to breastfeed: Sitting up, or lying down. There is no "better" way; with practice, you'll discover what works best for you and your baby.
Sitting up breastfeeding
If you choose to sit up during breastfeeding, here are some holds you may find useful.
This hold is most popular among mothers. It requires you to:
- Support your baby in the crook of your arm.
- Baby's face and body should be turned towards you, with your hand supporting baby's buttock.
(This position may not be suitable for mothers with inverted nipples.)
With this intimate position, both mother's and baby's tummies meet.
- Cradle your baby in one arm, and ensure the baby's tummy is resting on yours.
- Keep your hand at the base of the baby's head and ensure that baby's ear, shoulders and hip are in a straight line.
- Move baby's lower arm out of the way if it is in an uncomfortable position.
- Support your breast with your free hand and place all your fingers under it.
- Rest your thumb lightly on top of your breast, above your areola.
- Stroke baby's lower lip with your nipple to urge your baby to open his mouth. This may take a few minutes.
- As his mouth opens to resemble a yawn, bring him quickly onto your breast to latch on.
(This position is good for newborns and small or premature babies.)
As the name implies, you may feel like you are holding a football during breastfeeding. Here's how to begin:
- Position baby such that his legs and body are under your arm. Your hand should be at the back of the head, and at the neck.
- Placing your fingers below your breast, hold baby close with his nose and chin touching your breast as baby latches on.
- Remember to keep baby's body and legs tucked under your arm for the best comfort.
(This position is good if you have just had a Caesarean and want to avoid placing baby on your stomach. It is also good if you have large breasts, a small baby or when baby is fussy, restless and having a hard time latching on.)
Lying down breastfeeding
The side-lying method is useful if you are tired and wish to lie down while breastfeeding.
- Lay baby next to you, with your tummies facing each other.
- Bend your top leg and position a pillow under your upper knee.
- Placing your fingers beneath your breast, lift it upwards and bring your baby close as he latches on.
(This position is good if you have someone to help you in breastfeeding, or you have just had a Caesarean and need to lie down.)
What to do when baby does not latch on
Your baby may refuse to or have difficulty in latching on due to various reasons. If so, don't force your baby to latch on. Slowly and gently begin again by:
- Work with your baby until he is comfortable in the nursing position.
- Earn baby's trust by introducing skin-to-skin contact around the skin at your breast. Let baby get more comfortable with this, and do not immediately try to latch himas this may irritate him.
- Offer your breast when baby is relaxed or sleepy.
You may also wish to seek help from a Lactation Consultant.
Image of baby when he is ready to latch on
When you're not sure whether you should breastfeed
While breastfeeding is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be an ideal mode of feeding for the first six months of a newborn's life, you may be unsure if you should breastfeed in these situations:
- Breast reduction surgery
If you have had breast reduction surgery, and wonder whether you can still breastfeed, ease your concerns. Talk to a lactation expert or your doctor.
- Breast implants
If you have silicone or saline implants in your breasts, you may feel wary of breastfeeding. If so, consult a lactation expert or your doctor about it.
- Breast infection
In this situation, breastfeeding is still possible even if you are on antibiotic treatment. For greater peace of mind, why not seek advice from a lactation expert or your doctor?
Supplements for those who cannot breastfeed
If you are unable to breastfeed, you could feed your baby an iron-fortified milk formula made from cow's milk or soy protein. This will give your baby the vitamins and minerals equivalent to that of breast milk. You can also discuss with your doctor which type of milk formula would be best for your child.