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Newborn babies often spend a long time breastfeeding, as much as 45 minutes. Remember your baby is learning a vital skill – how to breastfeed effectively. While your baby is getting the hang of it, they may not suck continuously. Your baby may suck several times and then pause for 30 seconds or so before starting to suck again. In those 45 minutes of nursing, your baby may actually be sucking for only half that time. Your baby lets you know when they need to nurse by licking, making sucking sounds and trying to suck on their hands or fingers. Whenever a newborn baby begins to wake up, they will almost always be ready for a feeding.
Latching on is the term we use to describe how the baby attaches their mouth to the breast for a feeding. The first step is positioning your baby so they can latch on properly. This means you are holding the baby turned towards you (tummy to tummy), if you are using the cradle or cross-cradle hold. The baby's head is level with your breast and the baby's nose is in front of the nipple.
In the beginning you may find the cross-cradle hold and the football hold to be the best positions. That’s because your new baby needs a lot of guidance finding the nipple. These two positions allow you to support and control the baby’s head. In the cradle hold, where the baby’s head is in the bend of your arm, you have very little control of the head.
If you need to take the baby off the breast while they are still sucking, it is important to break the suction so the baby does not hurt your nipple. Even a baby who has stopped sucking will try to hold on to the nipple if they feel you pulling them away. To break the suction you need to insert your finger between the baby's gums. Put your finger in the corner of the baby's mouth and quickly push your finger between the baby's gums.
We want you to have a successful breastfeeding experience with your baby. All babies are different and you may have challenges you have never experienced before. The lactation consultants at Chandler Regional have put together a quick reference guide should you need additional support two weeks or two months after you go home from the hospital. If this is your first baby, please visit our classes and events section for information on our breastfeeding class.