Is there more than one way to hold my baby?
Yes. You can experiment with several different nursing positions (or holds) to figure out which one is the most comfortable for both you and your baby.
They include the:
- Cradle Hold: This is the traditional hold many mothers will try from the get-go, holding the baby across the chest and using the arm on the same side as the nursing breast to support the baby.
- Clutch (or Football) Hold: This position holds the baby at the side, and is good for the mom who's had a C-section (because the baby doesn't put pressure on the mother's belly), as well as for mothers with large breasts or twins.
- Cross-Cradle (or Crossover) Hold: Similar to the cradle hold, this position involves using the arm on the opposite side as the nursing breast to support the baby. Some mothers find that this hold makes it easier to control how their babies latch on.
- Side-Lying Position: This position, in which mom lies on her side facing the baby, allows moms to get some rest during feedings and is also a common choice for mothers who've had C-sections.
How can I make breastfeeding more comfortable?
Again, it's mostly about finding a comfortable nursing position and proper latch-on — once you've gotten those down, it can make for a truly rewarding bonding experience. Here are some other things you can do that might also help you to relax and enjoy the experience:
- Keep a breastfeeding goodie bag or basket near all of your regular nursing areas at home (next to the bed, on the couch, etc.). Fill it with bottled water, some healthy snacks, a few magazines, your portable home phone or cell phone (so you don't have to get up to answer or make calls), plenty of burp cloths or cotton diapers for dribbles and spit-up, and the remote controls if you want to use a TV, DVD player, VCR, or stereo nearby.
- Find the most comfortable seating arrangement and stick to it so that your baby gets comfortable with — and looks forward to — the routine. Many mothers like to sit in a glider or in a cozy chair with armrests.
- Give your feet and back a break. Footstools and pillows can provide extra support. Pillows that some women find helpful are the wraparound nursing pillows or the "husband" back pillows with arms on each side for nursing in bed.
How long should I plan to breastfeed my baby?
The AAP now recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively (without offering formula, water, juice, non-breast-milk, or food) for the first 6 months, and that breastfeeding continue until 12 months (and beyond) if it's working for both mother and baby.
Studies on infants show that breastfeeding can lower the occurrence or severity of diarrhea, ear infections, and bacterial meningitis. Breastfeeding also may protect children against sudden Infant death syndrome (SIDS), diabetes, obesity, and asthma.
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