How To Breastfeed Successfully

Writer : Husna Maslan
Edited by: Darchaini A/P Rajagopal
Checked by : Dr Hairin Anisa Bt Tajuddin

The frequency of breastfeeding sessions according to the baby’s demand is influenced by the concept of “more demand, more supply”, comfortable positioning of the baby and correct latching, which contributes to the success of breastfeeding that benefits both, the mother and the baby in numerous ways. Among them are that newborn babies consume colostrum, which is rich in antibodies and protects babies from infections, and reduces the risk of jaundice and many other illnesses.

Mothers, on the other hand, benefit from reducing the chances of having blocked ducts and are able to breastfeed their babies longer, which help them achieve the target of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and have higher chances of continuing to breastfeed their babies for two years or more, successfully. The risk of getting mastitis, breast abscess, rusty pipe syndrome and others can also be significantly reduced. Mothers should breastfeed their babies on both sides of their breasts to ensure optimal milk production and this also enables the baby to get both, foremilk (milk at the beginning of a breastfeeding session) and hindmilk (milk at the end of a breastfeeding session), which has higher fat content than the milk at the beginning of that particular feeding).

If the baby is with the mother, breastfeeding according to the baby’s demand stimulates more prolactin hormone which promote breastmilk production. The mother needs to be aware of the baby’s signs of hunger or baby’s feeding cues i.e opening the mouth widely towards the mother’s breast, moving the eyeballs, restless movements, sticking the tongue out, licking the lips, sucking the fingers or any object that touches its mouth, moving the head to the left and right, and making a slow whimpering sound. Crying is the last sign.

If the baby is away, the mother would need to maintain a consistent pumping schedule (every 3 hours or more often) and ensure the baby is fed with sufficient expressed breastmilk (EBM) by the caretaker. The mother should also be aware of the signs of the baby being full such as when the baby releases the mother’s breast on its own or falls asleep while slowly releasing the mother’s breast. When a baby is happy, smiles, and seems cheerful, the mother can be convinced that the baby is receiving sufficient breastmilk.

A breastfeeding position is how the mother holds the baby during a feed. The mother and baby need to be in a comfortable position during breastfeeding. Among the common types of breastfeeding positions, are the cradle hold, cross-cradle hold, football hold and sidelying position. Please refer to the “Breastfeeding Positions” picture above.

A baby is comfortable during breastfeeding when its body is turned to the side and its face is facing the mother’s breast, with its nose opposite the mother’s nipple and its chest facing the mother’s chest. The baby’s whole body should be held firmly and parallel to the mother’s body to prevent the baby’s neck from turning left or right. The baby’s head, neck and spine must be well supported and aligned, and the mother should remain calm and hold the baby’s bottom confidently so that it does not fall. The baby should be brought closer to the mother’s body: the baby is brought to the breast; the breast should not be brought to the baby, and it will automatically find the nipple with its mother’s assistance. The mother should not bend forward towards the baby to prevent numbness in her arm, neck and shoulder. The mother’s back, hands and legs should be supported with pillows and her breast can also be supported with her hands or a small rolled towel if needed. The mother can also use a nursing pillow and is advised to swaddle the baby during breastfeeding so that the baby’s hand movements do not affect the breastfeeding position and is easier for the mother to correct the latching, especially for newborns who need more guidance. Do take note that the swaddle is not the cause of hip dysplasia and is also not a solution for the condition.

Correct latching requires the baby’s mouth to be wide open and the mother can help the baby’s rooting reflex (the reflex to move their face to find their mother’s nipple to nurse) by touching her nipple with the baby’s face and aiming the nipple towards the top of the baby’s mouth. This will stimulate the baby to open its mouth wide and its chin should be the first thing that touches the breast. The baby should take a large portion of the areola into its mouth, with the bottom lip and jaw covering more of the underneath part of the areola, with its nose away from the breast and the areola is more visible at the top of the baby’s mouth. The baby’s lips should be flanged out (like a fish) instead of being tucked in. This way, the baby’s tongue will touch the bottom part of the areola with pressure, and not touch or put pressure on the nipple which would cause sore nipples. Proper latching can be determined by observing the way the baby swallows the milk. Deep suction and a slow gulping sound indicate proper latching which falls into the rhythmic “suck-swallow-breath” pattern of suckling. A baby must latch correctly to receive sufficient milk easily and efficiently.

There are two mechanisms of infant suckling. The movement of the baby’s tongue upwards towards the palate creates positive pressure on the mother’s breast and will squirt the milk out from the breast into the baby’s mouth. The cheek muscles will create negative pressure by puffing the mouth and this results in strong suction to draw the milk out. A proper attachment of the baby to the mother’s breast is more attainable when the mother is confident that the
baby’s positioning and latch are correct and; the baby feels safe because it can feel the mother being calm during the breastfeeding session. This contributes to the baby’s optimum weight gain and a happy mother. Lastly, encouragement and support from the husband and other family members are very important for mothers to successfully face and overcome the challenges of breastfeeding.