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How to Breastfeed:
A Step-by-Step Guide

Learning how to breastfeed is often the first challenge a new mom makes after delivery. These useful tips and easy steps on how to breast feed will help you meet that challenge head on...and win!

There are a number of things you can do to help your breastfeeding experience be successful (and less painful!). Wait a may say... isn't breastfeeding is a completely natural activity? Well...yes and no.

There are many activities that our body should naturally do that we still manage to make difficult. Knowing how your body is meant to work is the first step in learning how to breastfeed successfully! We can use that knowledge to ensure we are using our body in the proper way, eliminating much pain and hassle.


Get Ready: Before and After Birth

There are basically two series of steps that you could and should take to help you have a positive breastfeeding experience. The first series includes various steps you can take before your baby arrives. If this is you, click here to see the pre-birth stages of how to breastfeed successfully.

If you are already holding your bundle of joy, click here to jump right into "How to Breastfeed".

Setting Up Before the Big Day


Education, Education, Education

Breastfeeding education on how to breastfeed is essential. Talk to other moms or read through informative articles about breast feeding. A little knowledge will go a long way in setting you up for a good experience.

Connect with Like-Minded Mothers

This is especially important if you do not already have a support network from friends or family, someone you can call in the middle of the night. Local chapters of La Leche League are located all over the world. You can visit their web site to find the chapter nearest you: Finding this system before you start breastfeeding will give you a boost of confidence that you already know where to go if you experience trouble.

Consider a Lactation Consultant

Some hospitals have lactation consultants on staff. Call ahead to find out if the hospital where you will be delivering has this service. If it does - use it! If your hospital doesn't have consultants, contact your closest La Leche League and ask for a recommendation. Remember, that La Leche League wants to see you succeed in this endeavor! They will be careful in their recommendations.

Check Your Nipples

I know this seems like a strange recommendation. However, if you have flat or inverted nipples you can try wearing breast shells during the pregnancy to help draw them out. (Don't know if they are flat or inverted? Here's how you tell.)

The breast shells take advantage of the natural elasticity of the skin during pregnancy by applying gentle, but constant pressure to the areola in an effort to break the adhesions under the skin that prevent the nipple from protruding. If you find that your nipples are flat or inverted, you should start wearing the shields for a few hours every day usually starting in the third trimester.

You should also be more careful to avoid bottles and pacifiers for a time. Your baby will naturally be drawn to whatever form of eating/sucking is the easiest. Your nipples will be more of a challenge than the bottle will be. Combo-feeding this early may discourage him to breastfeed. Wait until he is comfortable with nursing on your breast (usually several weeks) before introducing him to a bottle. Click here to see more about combo-feeding.


Benefit from a Good Nursing Bra

A good, comfortable nursing bra is an absolute MUST for successful nursing. In fact, this subject is such an important one, that the EiR has dedicated an entire article to discussing styles, sizing, and reviewing the top brands so you can make an informed decision.

Get all the facts on how to choose a good nursing bra before you break out the credit card. It will save you money, time, and tears!

How to Breastfeed: Step by Step

  • Step One: Start by holding the infant snuggly behind the shoulders. You can support your baby�s head with a finger or two, but try to avoid having your whole hand behind the baby�s head. The baby needs freedom of movement for Step 3.
  • Step Two: Position your baby with the baby�s body facing you. Especially in the beginning, skin to skin is ideal. This article will give you an overview of the different types of positions and help you discover which is position may be best for you.
  • Step Three: Allow your newborn�s head to tip back (as you do when drinking out of a cup).
  • Step Four: Point your nipple at the baby�s nose and pull the baby in so that his or her chin touches your breast.
  • Step Five: When his/her chin touches your breast, your infant will open wide (as when you bite into an apple) and latch on.
  • Step Six: When the mouth opens to latch on, help your newborn by quickly pulling her/him onto your breast as far as possible. The goal is for your nipple to hit the baby�s soft palate not the hard palate (ouch!). The hard palate is directly behind the front teeth and the soft palate is further back, right behind where the molars will be. You can feel this change from hard to soft in your own mouth by exploring the roof of your mouth with your tongue. (Here are some more tips to help you get a good latch)
  • Step Seven: If the latch is uncomfortable (pain or discomfort that lasts longer than 30 seconds) break the suction by gently pulling down in the corner of your baby�s month with your pinky and try again. (Just pulling your baby off will be excruciating! Always break the suction with your pinky before detaching.)
  • Step Eight: When you have accomplished a good latch, tuck the baby�s bottom close to your body so his/her nose is angled away from your breast. This will help keep your baby in position and help her/him to breathe better. Better breathing will mean better nursing.

As your setting up your nursing schedule , you can assume every time there's a squeak, she's hungry. After things are going well (about around 2-3 weeks) you can use common sense. If she's just finished a good feeding 30 minutes ago and begins to fuss after being put down for a nap, it is reasonable to wait and listen for a while, since she may settle down on her own, rather than try to nurse her again. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending nearly every minute of the day and night with your baby attached to your breast (which is fine in the first few weeks, but frustrating by week five!) If you're a visual learner, you can see examples of how to breastfeed by watching these helpful breast feeding videos.

Keep in mind that these step-by-step instructions are meant to help you reach the goal of comfortable breastfeeding. This may take some time. You and your baby have to learn to work together, and like any relationship, that takes time. Please expect comfort! Breastfeeding should not be painful. It may be uncomfortable at first, perhaps, but not toe-curling-make-you-want-to-wail painful!

You have a smorgasbord of informational articles to help you, and mothers all over the world ready to help at the touch of a keyboard!

When all is said and done, the more I discover about how to breastfeed, the more I am in awe of what an incredible design it is. It is an amazing privilege to give to your child in this way. Happy feeding!

danielle note
SIDE NOTE: This article was contributed by "The New Mom Mentor," Danielle, and is part of Tea Time with Danielle, a series of articles and talks for first-time moms.

Click here to see the other articles contributed by Danielle.

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Reviews of Nursing Bras and Pumps

Dear Friends,

I've just posted some new articles that review the most popular nursing products on the market.

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