**UPDATED with more tips after having my second baby!!**
When I first started nursing I felt like such a dummy! I had a lactation specialist give me some tips but even after that it was still challenging. It was even more frustrating when I turned to google for help and all I could find was “make sure you have a good latch” and “get help if you don’t have a good latch”. Well Google, I hate to break it to you, but you can’t really see your latch while your baby is latched so how the heck am I supposed to know? As far as I could tell it would hurt randomly even when I was doing exactly what I did before. Eventually I gathered a lot of great tips from some of my friends that have really helped so I thought I’d add them to the Google universe! If you have any other great tips please share!
Patience: It takes so much patience!! Mentally prepare for the first two weeks being all about learning to nurse. It’ll be a much quicker learning process if you can relax and figure things out early on.
Line up: Line up your baby’s ears, shoulders, hips, and toes before bringing them in to eat. This ensures that your baby is in the most comfortable position to swallow. If their head is turned, they will have a hard time swallowing and most likely not latch well.
Underwire, flip, chin: Using one hand, hold your breast as if your fingers were an underwire bra (out of the way of baby’s face but under lifting your breast up a bit), use your thumb on top of your breast to pull your skin a bit so the nipple flips upwards. (This is so you latch with the nipple pointing to the roof of baby’s mouth triggering the sucking reflex!) when baby’s mouth is open wide, shove him onto your positioned breast by pushing his chin into you first. (When I say shove I mean shove. At first I always just gently tried to get him on there but that just makes him suck the end of your nipple. You want as much skin shoved in his mouth as possible so the nipple is back far in his mouth.)
KEEPING BABY AWAKE
Arm Lever: To keep a drowsy newborn awake long enough to finish eating, lift their arm like it’s a lever. For some magical reason it makes them suck. It can also help you know if they are done or not. If they’re arm is really tense, they still want more. If it is limp and flops around, they are finishing up!
Chin Press: Gently press the soft spot under your baby’s chin with an outstretched finger to keep them eating if they’re getting sleepy. It triggers their swallowing reflex. You can even try it on yourself to see how it works.
Pillow Under Knees: During the day I usually nurse on my rocking chair, but at night I nurse in bed. After a while it started to hurt my back because I’m not very flexible. I discovered that putting a pillow under my knees takes away all the pain!!
Disposable vs. Washable Breast Pads: I quickly discovered that breast pads were necessary, and using disposable breast pads were well worth the money. They actually soak up the milk and stay dry whereas washable ones stay wet and can cause mastitis. (Yep, I got it and it was a nightmare!)
If you have any questions at all GO see a lactation consultant!! They can help so much!