A big part of successful breastfeeding is being relaxed. Unfortunately, most breastfeeding positions women are taught today don’t allow for a natural and comfortable latch. In fact, 92% of the nursing mothers in one study reported major breastfeeding challenges (1).
In another study, 60% of mothers who stopped breastfeeding did so earlier than desired (2). New moms that abandon breastfeeding often do so because of nipple pain, latching problems and trouble lactating.
What Really Causes Nipple Pain
Most pain that new mothers feel when breastfeeding comes from a poor attachment of the baby onto the nipple. Traditional breastfeeding positions only allow for babies to have a shallow attachment.
This means that the nipple is pushed against the hard palate inside the baby’s mouth. Over time, this can lead to a sore, chapped and even blistered, nipple.
These common positions leave the baby swaddled in her mother’s arms. However, it’s been suggested that holding your baby in this position isn’t ideal for you or your child since most mothers sit hunched over, tense, and struggling. You also have the added strain of having to hold your baby in your arms.
What Science Is Saying
A 2008 UK study found that the breastfeeding positions doctors have been teaching new mothers for decades could actually be contributing to the ongoing epidemic of early problems.
Similar to most mammals – like puppies and kittens- science has found that babies instinctively feed while lying on their stomachs (3).
In fact, when placed skin-to-skin on their mother’s chest right after birth, newborns will instinctively crawl towards the breast to feed. They can even find a nipple and latch on by themselves. All mothers have to do is hold the breast downward and guide it deep into the newborn’s mouth. That’s it!
How To Properly Breastfeed
Represented above as the biological hold, lactation experts are suggesting that it’s the most natural position for breastfeeding a newborn.
Start by sitting in a comfortable position, leaning deep into a comfortable couch or chair.
Placing the baby chest down unto your own chest will be more comfortable for you and your child. If you lean back far enough, you can even breastfeed hands free!
As explained by obstetrician Theresa Nesbitt, Fellow of the International Lactation Consultant Association and Breastfeeding USA counselor, the baby should approach the breast jaw first.
This ensures that she gets a deeper latch onto the nipple, pressing it against her soft palate for a pain-free feeding. Being on her stomach will also prevent her from kicking and squirming, a common problem with babies that feed on their backs.
Breastfeeding requires the mother and baby to be in sync. If things don’t work out at first, just be patient and adjust. If you require a bit more help, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a lactation specialist at your local hospital.