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Breast-Feeding - How to Breast-Feed

To breast-feed properly and prevent problems, you will need to learn the basics of breast-feeding. You will want to get ready before each feeding and find a position that is comfortable for you and your baby. Doing this will help you get your baby to latch on, so that you can provide a complete feeding each time. If you do have trouble with breast-feeding, get support from family, friends, your doctor, or a lactation consultant.

Get ready for a feeding

Being ready for a feeding will help you relax. And being relaxed will help your let-down reflex, which occurs just before or soon after feeding begins. It's helpful to wear a loose blouse or a shirt that can be raised easily. If you want more privacy, use a lightweight blanket over your shoulder and chest to cover your breasts and your baby.

It is likely that you will have to breast-feed around other people, even strangers, when you are feeding your baby on demand. In many states and on federal property, your right to breast-feed in public is protected by law.

To get ready, you can also do things like:

  • Make sure the room is quiet and warm. Keep the room darkened. Bright light makes it hard for newborns to open their eyes.
  • Keep something to drink nearby. Most women get thirsty as they breast-feed. Drink enough to satisfy your thirst.
  • Use one or more pillows to support your arms and the baby. Support your back with a pillow, and use a stool to raise your feet. This will help you and your baby be more comfortable during feeding.
  • Make sure your baby is alert. This will help you get your baby to latch on. You may need to wake your baby.

Find a position

Breast-feeding in the proper position will help your baby latch on and breast-feed correctly. There are several breast-feeding positions, such as the cradle hold, the football hold, and the side-lying position.

As you start to breast-feed, try different positions to find those that are most comfortable for you and your baby. For example, use the cross-cradle hold at one feeding, and then use the football hold at the next. Feeding in different positions may reduce nipple soreness. Also, start each new feeding with the opposite breast you started with at the last feeding. This routine helps you to empty each breast completely.

For more help with finding the best position, see the topic Breast-Feeding Positions.

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