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New Mom's Guide on How to Breastfeed

Brush up on the basics and make nursing go a whole lot smoother.

Getting Started

Find a Spot

You need a quiet space with few distractions and easy access to all of the things you need for nursing: a burp cloth, the phone, a clock for keeping time.

Get Comfortable

Rest baby on a pillow -- a nursing pillow is best -- so you can elevate him and bring him closer to your breast. This will keep you from leaning in and putting any added pressure on your back.

Think Tummy to Tummy

Find the right latch position to make sure baby is comfortable too. Place him on his side with his body facing your nipples. His neck should stay straight and his head shouldn’t turn to either side.

Latching Pointers

Use your nipple to tickle. Start at the nose and then move on to the upper lip. Continue to tickle baby's lips until his mouth opens.

Aim your nipple toward the roof of his mouth. For a proper latch, at least a half inch of your breast -- in addition to the nipple -- should be in his mouth, so be sure most of your areola is in there.

Keep your back straight and bring baby to your breast. It’s important to really pull baby close to you.

Watch baby’s cheekbones and listen for swallowing to make sure he’s really drinking. Don’t be fooled by just suckling sounds -- they don’t always mean that baby is getting milk.

Troubleshooting

Issue: you can’t get your baby to latch on

Solution: Relax and take your time! You’ll know it’s right if baby’s lips are turned out and she has enough of your breast in her mouth. If your baby is tightening or pursing her lower lip, gently press on her chin to help her turn her lip out. It could take a few weeks for you to feel like you’re getting this right the first time, every time, but the earlier you can, the better. So ask for help.

Issue: you’re worried

Solution: If it doesn’t seem to be going well, don’t hesitate to call a lactation consultant. In one visit (often covered by your insurance) they can usually identify any real issues and make you feel much more confident.

Issue: you’re engorged

Solution: As your body learns to release the right amount of milk, you may find yourself painfully full. Use a breast pump to pump an ounce or two of milk -- or manually express it -- to relieve the pressure so your breast is soft enough for your baby to latch on. A hot shower can also help.

Issue: Your milk hasn’t come in

Solution: Wait it out. It can take a few days or up to two weeks post-birth for your body to learn to release milk. But baby is still getting nourishment from the colostrum you had before he was even born. Keep nursing him every two or three hours to stimulate milk production and take note of how many diapers he soaks through each day.

Issue: You don’t like breastfeeding

Solution: Nursing can feel awkward, make you sore and take up what seems like all your waking time in the beginning, but both you and baby will get the hang of it -- and he’ll get more efficient. (And the soreness usually goes away.) Be careful not to let yourself be pressured into formula feeding because “it’s easier”.

Issue: Your nipples are inverted or flat

To draw the nipple out, try pumping just before nursing. You might also try nipple shields, which direct milk through a hole and into baby’s mouth. The only problem: they can lead to a decrease in milk supply, so talk to a professional first.

Plus, more from The Bump:

12 Ways to Make Breastfeeding Easier

Top 10 Reasons to Breastfeed

How Breastfeeding Changes As Baby Gets Older

-- Nina Carbone

See More: Breastfeeding , Mommy Life