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You may have heard that nursing is the most natural maternal activity there is, but unless you’ve done it before, you need to learn some basic techniques to get it right. This guide will help you get started.
The Cradle Hold Cradling the baby with her head nestled in the crook of your arm, your chest should face hers, with her shoulders and back supported by your forearm and your hand holding her bottom.
1. Hold your breast with your free hand, with your thumb above and the rest of your fingers below the nipple and just behind the areola (the dark area that surrounds the nipple).
2. Squeeze gently so your nipple is accessible to the baby.
3. Gently touch the baby’s lips with your nipple.
4. When the baby’s mouth is wide open, center the nipple in her mouth, and move her toward you. Don’t lean forward; you won’t be able to maintain that position for long.
5. Continue holding and squeezing the breast until you’re sure she’s latched on, which means she has all of your nipple and about an inch of areola in her mouth.
6. It may take several tries, but once she’s sucking well — you should see her jaw, not just her mouth, move with each swallow — you can stop squeezing the breast, although you likely will need to support it throughout the feeding.
The Football Hold The football hold may be easier than the cradle hold, especially if the baby is having trouble attaching to the breast or was born prematurely, or if you had a Cesarean section and are uncomfortable with the baby pressing against your abdomen. Here’s how to do it:
1. Tuck the baby’s body under your arm and along your side (the same side as the breast she will use to feed). Her bottom and feet should be pointing toward the back of the chair, her head in your hand.
2. With your free hand, hold your breast, and follow the rest of the instructions above.