Let’s get you laid-back breastfeeding
When I support a new mom or a mom having challenges with breastfeeding, one of the first things I suggest is laid-back breastfeeding, also known as biological nurturing. It’s an easy concept: lay back, relax and get comfortable with yourself and baby and allow baby to follow her natural breastfeeding instincts.
For a lot of moms, this breastfeeding position was never suggested. Laid-back breastfeeding would have helped me with several of my own challenges. My breasts were very sore; I had an abundance of milk, so baby was choking and my shoulders and neck were doing a lot of work when I used the cradle position. I was also very awkward and didn’t know where to position my hands and how to help baby to the breast. It was all so messy and I felt like our bodies were not connecting.
Going Back to Basics
Laid-back breastfeeding takes you back to the basics and it is easier for you and baby to follow your own instincts and cues. Did you know that baby has the ability to move towards her own food source? That’s right and all you have to do is lay back and let each other work as a team. With your help, the baby will wiggle and move toward your nipple on her own. She will open her mouth wide and take in your breast and her sucking reflux will kick in.
When you lay back, gravity takes over and baby can take the breast easier and deeper, which helps reduce the risk of latching problems. Baby is close to you (skin-to-skin), body is fully supported, and baby can take what she wants when the let-down is happening. It is also much easier on you when you can lie back in a comfortable position and your arms, shoulders and neck are well supported. You can help baby to the breast much easier when both hands are free to do so. The best thing: it’s less messy and after a couple of tries, it’s less awkward.
Six steps to laid-back breastfeeding:
1. Find your favourite place where you can sit or lay back so your body is well supported. Do not lay flat.
2. Position your pillows so that your head and shoulders are supported and put baby’s belly to your belly.
3. Allow baby to get comfortable and make sure her cheek is near your breast.
4. You can help her to the breast or allow her to follow her own cues.
5. Take your time and slow everything down including your breathing.
6. Touch, rub, breathe, talk and love each other. You are a team. Do what you feel is right for each other.
Even after Caesarean?!
If you had a caesarean birth, you can still take advantage of laying back. You just might have to position baby so that she is not pushing on your belly around the wound. Consider the above positions like across your breast, supported at your side or over the shoulder – all wonderful positions that still allow baby to follow her instincts.
The laid-back breastfeeding position should always be suggested and promoted to the rookies, but even the veterans should consider this position, especially when having challenges. We all get a little lazy with the latch and this can cause nipple soreness. I always suggest getting back to the basics and the first thing I look at is how a mom is nursing her baby. The laid-back position is most helpful in reducing latching problems, so this is where I start.
Laid-back breastfeeding is not a new concept; in reality moms have been doing this from the beginning of time. I think we are trying to get back to that – back to the basics. Laying back allows you to enjoy, touch, love, and nurture your baby while baby feeds, smells, listens, soothes, and loves you back. It’s all about following your own instincts and working as a perfect team.
There is so much more on laid-back breastfeeding. Below are some links that you might find interesting. I certainly do not disregard the other positions, in fact, I do the cradle position with my son every day, but I want moms to know there are more options that may feel more comfortable in those early stages or when you need to slow things down and reconnect.
- Breastingfeeding USA: Some Ins and Outs to Laid-Back Breastfeeding
- La Leche League International
- Midwifery Today
- Biological Nurturing: Laid-Back Breastfeeding Video
Laura MacDougall is a birth and postpartum doula specializing in lactation consulting. She is the owner of Helping Hands Doula in Halifax, NS and is currently studying to become a nurse. Her and her husband have two beautiful boys, Nolan, age three and Cody, nineteen months.
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