It’s every new mom’s nightmare: You’ve been trying to get your baby to latch on and nurse for hours, but he just won’t. The nurses are now giving you the “kindness eyes,” because they know how bad it is about to get. Your baby has been sent home with a feeding tube in his nose and a latching device on his other side. If you want to avoid this scenario, you need to know breastfeeding latch tips as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are several things you can do as a first step towards better breastfeeding from the moment he comes out of the hospital. Read on for some simple hacks that will help both of you make it through those exhausting first few days at home together.
Prepare for the worst
If your baby won’t latch on and feed, there are several possible reasons. Some of them are completely fixable (like your positioning or your baby’s health), while others are not (like a tongue or lip tie that neither of you can do anything about). If your baby is having trouble latching, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. If you wait too long and your baby is not gaining weight or is losing weight, the nurses will have no choice but to supplement his diet with formula, whether or not he is actually hungry. As a result, he may never learn how to latch, which is obviously an outcome that no new parent wants to see happen.
Watch your positioning
If you can, get a hands-on breastfeeding clinic from your local chapter of La Leche League. Many areas offer these free classes, and they can be extremely helpful. The best way to begin a successful breastfeeding experience is to start with the right positioning. Your baby’s mouth should rest on your nipple, with his jaw slightly open. His nose should be closed, and he should be looking toward your breast. When he’s latched on properly, you should be able to feel a suction sensation. However, you shouldn’t feel pain. If you’re struggling with positioning, try repositioning yourself, using a lactation aid, or getting a breastfeeding assistant to help.
Use a lactation aid
A lactation aid is a device that helps you get your baby to latch on properly. The one that most breastfeeding experts recommend is the SNS (or Supplemental Nursing System). This is a feeding device that is often used when a baby is unable to latch on due to prematurity, a cleft lip, or other medical conditions. The SNS consists of a feeding tube that is placed in the baby’s mouth and a syringe that delivers breast milk into the tube. The syringe can be attached to the breast pump that you use to express milk after you’ve finished breastfeeding. The SNS is not for everybody, and it’s certainly not a long-term solution. The goal is to help your baby learn to latch as soon as possible.
Get some help
The best advice for new moms is to recognize the signs of post-partum depression as soon as they appear. These signs include feeling sad, anxious, or guilty all the time, sleeping too little or too much, and having no interest in eating or talking to other people. If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your newborn. If you notice any of these signs, don’t hesitate to get help. Reach out to your family doctor, a therapist, your OB, or your pediatrician. There is no shame in admitting that you need help. You are doing the best you can. You can only do so much. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Celebrate your small wins
Once you’ve gotten your baby feeding from the breast, you should expect to have some setbacks. If breastfeeding was easy for everyone, nobody would ever have to use formula. Take each day as it comes and be grateful for your small wins. Don’t get discouraged by breastfeeding challenges, and don’t compare yourself to other new moms. Every baby is different, and every mom is different. What works for one mom may not work for you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, take a breather if you need it, and celebrate those small wins with your baby. They are a huge step towards a healthy, happy life.
Finally, it’s important to remember that breastfeeding isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, patience, and perseverance to get the hang of it. And even though it’ll feel like an uphill battle sometimes, you will get there eventually. In the meantime, try to enjoy every moment of it. Parenthood is a journey, and breastfeeding is an important part of it.