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First time breast feeder

Posted by on Oct. 29, 2012 at 12:15 AM
  • 16 Replies

I just had my first baby last week, and this breast feeding is not what i thought it would be. i soo badly want to breast feed, but its soo difficult. my daughter only latches on to the tip no matter what i do, and that hurts like heck. im only feeding out of one breast right now because my other one is engorged. how do i get her to latch on all the way?!

by on Oct. 29, 2012 at 12:15 AM
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by on Oct. 29, 2012 at 12:37 AM

It's been quite sometime since I BF my babe but hopefully someone can come along and give u some great tips. You def want baby to feed from your engorged one. It's engorged because it has too much milk in it. Feeding your little one from it will not only relieve the pain but help to up your milk supply. Keep trying!!! You are doing great!!!

by on Oct. 29, 2012 at 12:47 AM
First of all, try to relax. It can be frustrating but tensing up just makes it harder. Express a little milk and pinch your nipple a bit. Hold her behind her shoulders. Tickle her nose with it and she will open really wide and root around. When she opens big, help push her shoulders up and scoop her mouth onto your nipple from her bottom lip up. You shouldn't feel pain when she is properly latched (except possibly from prior injury). Listen for the 'Kuh' sound. That's swallowing. If you feel pinching, use your pinky to unlatch her and try again. It's better to re-latch 10 times and learn it than to suffer through feedings. I'm sure you'll get plenty of other good advice here too. Good luck, momma. Remember it gets easier!
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by on Oct. 29, 2012 at 12:52 AM
1 mom liked this
Do you have a pump? Sometimes it helps to pump till milk starts squirting then latch baby. Nipple shields can also help preemies and smaller babies with improper latch. I recommend you look for a LLL group or an LC at your docs office.

Trust me in the beginning bfing hurts and is so hard! Don't beat yourself are not failing at parenting. It gets better I promise!

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by Gold Member on Oct. 29, 2012 at 1:11 AM

Sounds painful. :( Have you spoken to an IBCLC and gotten checked for tongue tie? Here is a good video.

and this one

by Gold Member on Oct. 29, 2012 at 1:12 AM

Proper Positioning and Latch-on Skills

There's a right way--and a wrong way--for baby to latch onto the breast. When baby latches on correctly, mother's nipples don't get sore and baby is able to get plenty of milk. Everyone is happier.

The easiest way to learn about good latch-on is in a one-on-one session with a knowledgeable lactation consultant, who can show you, rather than tell you, how to get baby latched-on correctly. Many hospitals offer lactation services to postpartum mothers. You might also consider working with a lactation consultant or La Leche League Leader in your community.

With proper latch-on, puts most of mother's areola into his mouth. (See illustration.) Mother's nipple (1) goes to the back of baby's mouth. The baby's gums (2) compress the milk sinuses that lie about an inch behind the nipple. The tongue (3) is forward, underneath the breast, over the lower gum, and its motion helps baby draw out the milk.


How you sit, how you hold your baby, and how you offer your breast all affect how baby latches on. Ultimately, these facts determine how comfortable you will be during breastfeeding.

Mom's position (the cradle hold)

Sitting-upright in an armchair or rocking chair is the easiest position for breastfeeding. You can also sit up in bed, but make sure that your back, shoulders, and knees are well-supported. You'll need several pillows.

  • Place one or more pillows behind your lower back, and/or shoulders so that you are comfortable and relaxed.
  • If you're in bed, put pillows under your knees.
  • You'll need at least one pillow in your lap to bring baby up to the level of your breast, and another under the arm that will support your baby as he breastfeeds.
  • If you are sitting in a chair, use a foot stool or something else to raise your lap so you don't have to strain or lean over to get baby closer to your breast.

Why all the fuss about your comfort? Once baby is latched-on, you're going to be stuck in this position for 20 to 30 minutes. You don't want to be all knotted up when baby finally falls asleep in your arms.

Before you do anything else, be sure that your baby is awake and alert. A sleepy newborn can't nurse effectively. Undress baby down to just her diaper, so that she has lots of stimulating skin contact while nursing. Hold her in front of you and gently raise her from a lying-down position to one where she is supported in front of your face. Call her name, talk to her gently, and repeat this until she is awake enough to nurse. If your baby is fussing or crying, calm her down before offering the breast.

Babies as well as mothers should be comfortable during breastfeeding. Baby's breastfeeding reflexes work best when baby is well supported with her body comfortably aligned.

  • Use one or more pillows in your lap to bring baby up to the level of your breast. Don't expect your arms alone to be able to hold her at breast height though an entire feeding. Use pillows and a foot support to bring baby up and in toward you. The baby comes to the breast, not the breast to the baby.
  • Nestle baby in your arm so that her neck rests in the bend of your elbow, her back along your forearm, her buttocks in your hand.
  • Turn baby on her side, so that she is facing you tummy to tummy. Pull her close to you, so that her body wraps around yours. Her head and neck should be straight and in line with her body, not arched backward or turned sideways. Baby should not have to turn her head or strain upward to reach your nipple. The breast should be right there in front of her little mouth.
  • What to do about those little arms flailing away? Tuck the lower arm under baby's body, into the soft pocket of your midriff. You can hold the upper arm down with the thumb of the hand that is holding her. If it's hard to control baby's body, try swaddling her in a blanket.
Variations on this position

The position described above for mother and baby is called the cradle hold. It's the most common way that mothers hold babies while nursing. But there are times when you might choose another position. When baby is having difficulty learning to latch on, try the Clutch Hold or the Reversed Cradle Hold for more support and a better view of baby's mouth. The Side-Lying Position makes night-nursing and nap-nursing easier. Mothers with a tender tummy from a cesarean sometimes prefer the clutch hold or the side-lying position, to keep baby off their lap.

Offering the Breast

The hand that isn't holding the baby supports your breast. Supporting the breast with your hand keeps the weight of it off baby's lower jaw and chin. This will help him stay latched-on correctly. Try these tips for supporting your breast:

  • First, squeeze out a few drops of colostrum or milk to moisten your nipple.
  • Then cup your breast with your hand, palm and fingers underneath and thumb on top.
  • Keep your fingers clear of the areola, the darker area around the nipple, so that baby can take a big mouthful of breast.
  • If your breasts are very large, use a rolled-up hand towel under your breast to help support its weight.
Latch-on Basics: Breast and Baby Come Together

Open Wide. When the nipple touches baby's lips, his mouth will open quickly, seeking the breast. You want to get your nipple into his mouth when it is as wide open as possible so that baby sucks on a good mouthful of breast tissue, not just on the nubbin of your nipple. Babies' mouths close as quickly as they open, so you have only a split-second to get baby and breast together. Here's what to do:

  • Use your nipple to tickle baby's lower lip to encourage her to open her mouth wide--really wide.
  • As the mouth opens to its widest point, direct your nipple into the center and use your arm behind to pull baby in very close to you. Don't lean forward, pushing your breast toward your baby; pull her close to your breast by moving your arm.
How to Get Baby to Open Her Mouth Wide

Baby's wide-open mouth is the most important part of latch-on. If baby takes the breast as her mouth is closing, or if she slurps the nipple in through partially open lips, she won't get enough breast tissue in her mouth. If baby sucks only on the nipple, mother will get very sore nipples and baby won't get enough milk. You have to wait patiently for baby to open her mouth wide and then act quickly when she does. Even if you have to start over several times,(and you will in the beginning it's worth working at until you get it right. Try these tips:

  • Talk to your baby and say "Open." Show her what to do by opening your own mouth wide. Babies can imitate adult facial expressions.
  • Help your baby open her mouth wider by using the index finger of the hand supporting your breast to press firmly down on your baby's chin as you pull her on. You will probably need someone else to do this for you at first.

If all has gone well, at this point baby will be successfully latched-on to the breast and will begin to suck and swallow. If you're like most new mothers and babies, it may take several tries before you get going. If baby is not latched on well, press down on the breast or gently insert a finger in the corner of baby's mouth to break the suction and try it again.

Be patient, relax, and use these checkpoints to evaluate whether baby has a good latch:

  • Mother should be relaxed, with baby well supported in her arms. If you end up sitting hunched over during feedings and have a tired, sore back when you're done, you probably need another pillow in your lap to get baby up to breast height. Lean back into the pillows behind you and be sure you're bringing baby to the breast, not the breast to baby. Use an additional pillow to support the elbow of the arm that is holding the baby. There are also breastfeeding pillows you can purchase that keep baby's body aligned, yet raised to breast level. This is helpful for first-time moms who are overwhelmed with positioning baby's body and getting baby to latch-on correctly.
  • Make sure baby sucks the areola, not just the nipple. Your baby's gums should bypass the base of the nipple and take in at least a one-inch radius of the areola as he latches on. If baby is sucking on only the nipple, your nipples will be sore after just one or two feeding and miserable after many more. Another reason it is so important that baby compress the areola is that the milk sinuses (the reservoirs for milk) are located beneath the areola. If these sinuses are not compressed, your baby will not get enough milk. Babies should suck areolas, not nipples.
  • Baby's top and bottom lip should be turned out (everted). When baby takes the breast with mouth open wide, he'll have a "fish mouth" look as he nurses. If his bottom lip is pulled inward instead of outward, use the index finger of the hand that is supporting the breast to pull out that lower lip. (You may need a helper to take a peek under the breast and do this for you while baby is latched-on.) Martha Sears, who logged 18 years of breastfeeding 8 children dubs this technique the lower lip flip. This lower lip flip may be all that's needed to keep baby from tight-mouthing your nipple.
  • Baby's chin should be pressed into the breast with his nose resting on the breast, as well. You will notice that baby is able to breathe out the sides of his nose, even when pressed against your breast. Babies are designed that way. If your baby struggles, pull baby's bottom closer to you, or use your thumb to press gently on the breast to make an airway.
  • Wrong latch-on. Baby's lower lip should not be pursed inward, but should be turned outward.
by on Oct. 29, 2012 at 1:37 AM

can you use a manual pump to relieve engorgement off the breast? do that for a minute and then try and latch! pull bottom lip down when latching. "hamburger" hold the breast when latching. it takes a lot of practice but sounds like youre doing so great!!! keep at it and dont supplement. It WILL get better soon!!!

by on Oct. 29, 2012 at 2:04 AM

I cried with pain each and every time we nursed for the first month or more.  Seriously it HURT!  But eventually it became endurable, and we nursed until DS self-weaned about 15 months.  Don't give up!  (We found that feeding DS with a cup worked best for both of us for a couple feedings per day in order to give my breasts/emotions a break)...  Good Luck, mama!

by Gina on Oct. 29, 2012 at 2:05 AM

tons of info here:

Latching and Positioning Resources


No matter what latch and positioning look like, the true measure is in the answers to these two questions:

  1. Is it effective?
  2. Is it comfortable?

Even if latch and positioning look perfect (and, yes, even if a lactation consultant told you they were fine), pain and/or ineffective milk transfer indicate that there is a problem somewhere, and the first suspect is ineffective latch/positioning.

If baby is transferring milk and gaining weight well, and mom is not hurting, then latch and positioning are – by definition – good, even if it’s nothing like the “textbook” latch and positioning that you’ve seen in books.

“Rules and regulations have no place in the mother-baby relationship. Each mother and baby dyad is different and what works well for one mother and baby may not work well for another mother and baby. The important thing to do is to look at the mother and baby as individuals.”– Andrea Eastman, MA, CCE, IBCLC in The Mother-Baby Dance

Following are some of my favorite resources on latch and positioning:

Biological Nurturing: Laid-Back Breastfeeding from Dr. Suzanne Colson. Breastfeeding in a semi-reclined position can be very helpful for both mom and baby.

Newborn Hands: Why are they always in the way while breastfeeding? from the San Diego Breastfeeding Center

Latching handouts by Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC

Breastfeeding: Off to the best start from the UK Department of Health
(Lovely latching pictures here, with simple directions.)

Deep Latch Technique from The Pump Station.
(Good latching pictures and directions.)

When Latching by Anne J. Barnes, has instructions with drawings
(The drawings and tips here are helpful.)

Latching videos by Dr. Jack Newman

Animation illustrating assymetrical latch technique by Victoria Nesterova
(Nice animation — text is in Russian.)

The Mother-Baby Dance: Positioning and Latch-On by Andrea Eastman, MA, CCE, IBCLC
(This is a longish article written for breastfeeding counselors that has some nice descriptions of latching and positioning, along with info on why some things tend to work better than others.)

Is baby latching on and sucking efficiently? How to tell from
(A useful list.)

L-A-T-C-H-E-S * Breastfeeding Assessment Tool (for the first 4 weeks) and Scoring Key by Marie Davis, RN, IBCLC
(A tool for professionals that could also be useful for moms who are wondering if breastfeeding is going fine and whether additional help is needed.)

Help for various nursing positions

Lactation yoga, or side-lying nursing without getting up to switch sides by Eva Lyford, @ 

Nursing Laying Down (step-by-step description with photos) from

Some tips on the football & cross cradle nursing positions by Kathy Kuhn, IBCLC

Some tips on nursing while lying down by Kathy Kuhn, IBCLC

More useful information

Latching: Thoughts on pushing baby’s chin down when latching @ 

Taking baby off the breast by Marie Davis, IBCLC

PDF Baby-led Latching: An “Intuitive” Approach to Learning How to Breastfeed by Mari Douma, DO, from the Michigan Breastfeeding Network Newsletter, December 2003, Volume 1, Issue 3.

PDF When the Back of the Baby’s Head is Held to Attach the Baby to the Breast by Robyn Noble DMLT, BAppSc(MedSc), IBCLC and Anne Bovey, BspThy

Breast Compression by Jack Newman, MD. The purpose of breast compression is to continue the flow of milk to the baby once the baby no longer drinks on his own, and thus keep him drinking milk. Breast compression simulates a letdown reflex and often stimulates a natural let-down reflex to occur. The technique may be useful for poor weight gain in the baby, colic in the breastfed baby, frequent feedings and/or long feedings, sore nipples in the mother, recurrent blocked ducts and/or mastitis, encouraging the baby who falls asleep quickly to continue drinking.

by on Oct. 29, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Don't give up! You can do this! It was hard in the beginning for me too but it does get better. ((hugs))
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by on Oct. 29, 2012 at 1:10 PM
It gets a lot easier in just a couple of weeks! Stick with it and it will become so easy you can do it in your sleep (literally!!!). I see you already have great advice about the latch. Hang in there!
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