LATCH-ON—HOW THE BABY GOES ON TO THE BREAST Support the Breast When Needed The purpose of supporting the breast is to make it firmer for easier latch-on and to keep its weight off the baby’s chin during feedings so that he stays latched-on well. Even a mother with small breasts may find that during the early weeks of nursing some breast support helps her achieve better positioning and latch-on. Most mothers find that their breasts are at their largest during the early weeks of nursing and that some support is helpful. The C-hold—thumb on top and four fingers underneath—allows the mother to gently support herRead More →

During the early weeks of breastfeeding, while the mother and her baby are learning the basics, encourage the mother to give special attention to how she positions herself and her baby and how he latches on to the breast. Good positioning and latch-on will help prevent sore nipples, as well as give the baby more milk for his efforts. A baby who is well-positioned and latched-on will better stimulate the mother’s milk supply and get off to a healthier start. If the mother has persistent sore nipples or frequent mastitis or the baby is gaining weight slowly, poor positioning and latch-on may be contributing factors.Read More →

THE LET-DOWN OR MILK-EJECTION, REFLEX Signs of a Healthy Let-Down Some milk accumulates in the milk reservoirs behind the nipple and in the ducts, but most of the milk is made and stored in other parts of the breast. The let-down reflex releases this milk into the milk ducts, making it available to the baby. During breastfeeding, the baby’s suck stimulates the let-down. When a baby begins to nurse, the rhythmic motion of his jaws, lips, and tongue send nerve impulses to the mother’s pituitary, the master gland in the brain, by way of the hypothalamus. Two hormones, prolactin and oxytocin, are then released. ItRead More →

DURING THE EARLY MONTHS The special first milk, called colostrum, is a concentrated form of nutrition that also contains the specific immunities that a newborn needs. Colostrum alone is present in small amounts until the third or fourth day after birth, when most mothers notice that their milk becomes more plentiful. This is when the body begins to shift into the production of mature milk, a transition that takes about two weeks to complete. After the first few weeks, a mother will notice her breasts feel softer and not as full. This softening of the breasts is a sign that the mother’s milk production isRead More →

NORMAL BREASTFEEDING PATTERNS There is a wide variation in what’s normal. This is as true of breastfeeding patterns as it is of other areas of child development and growth. Two different—yet perfectly normal and healthy—children may walk, talk, and get their first tooth at different ages. Their nursing patterns may differ, too. One baby may breastfeed every hour while another baby may breastfeed only every four hours and both may thrive. Individual differences and variations must be taken into account when discussing breastfeeding, which is why breastfeeding is an art and not a science. Many new mothers, however, expect simple and straightforward answers to questionsRead More →

The breast—or mammary gland—is a complex and efficient organ. Development of the breast begins before birth during the early weeks of gestation, but the mammary gland doesn’t become fully functional until the onset of lactation. The breast continues to change under the influence of normal physical processes—such as menstrual cycles, pregnancies, birth, and weaning—through menopause, when the gland begins to atrophy. Knowledge of breast anatomy and function will be helpful in understanding how normal bodily functions and environmental influences affect breastfeeding. BREAST ANATOMY Composition of the Breast The breast is a secretory gland composed of the following parts: glandular tissue, which makes and transports milk,Read More →

Although accurate breastfeeding information is essential when a woman asks for breastfeeding help, she is also looking for reassurance. The breastfeeding counselor must find a way to put the mother at ease and establish a feeling of rapport. She listens carefully to show that she is really interested in helping the mother. She asks questions to help to clarify the situation. She helps the mother identify her feelings to help her focus on what is important to her. She offers information, makes suggestions, and discusses options, helping the mother weigh the pros and cons. She puts her own feelings and experiences in the background andRead More →