Excerpted from Best of the Breast, Chapter 1: “Nurse or Die Trying”
1. Relax! This is your time to explore together with baby and develop a precious bond that will last a lifetime.
2. First, hold baby across your body with your right hand supporting her head and your right arm supporting her body.
3. You want your thumb placed gently behind baby’s left ear and your other fingers gently behind her right ear.
4. Keep those fingers together. Imagine they have been stuck together with crazy glue.
5. Support her head but don’t push her head! Baby doesn’t like that, and she will freak out. You have to let her control the situation.
6. Now, with your left hand, grab your breast in a “U hold” and squish your nipple.
7. No, that is a “C hold.” That is for the football nursing position. Don’t you remember anything from the one-hour breastfeeding class you took a month before this baby was born?
8. No? OK, you want the nipple squished so that it is horizontal with baby’s mouth. We call this a nipple sandwich.
9. I know she’s wriggling and crying, but just keep her in position gently without forcing her.
10. Don’t let go of your nipple sandwich!
11. Make sure your nipple is pointed slightly upward.
12. No! Just slightly… that is too much.
13. Relax! You’re getting tense and your shoulders are going up! Bring your shoulders down but also maintain good posture.
14. Be sure to pay attention to all these little details because they are the keys to getting a good, deep latch. Without a good, deep latch, you are a total failure as a mother and as a person.
15. Now tickle baby’s upper lip with your nipple sandwich.
16. That’s it, just waggle it around, and she will automatically drop her head back slightly and open her mouth wide, and when she does, you should bring her to your breast.
17. This should be a swift, smooth movement of your whole arm. Your right arm that is. Move baby to breast, not breast to baby! Don’t just jam the nipple into her mouth!
18. Well, she should open her mouth wide. There are a million videos online of babies doing it perfectly. Why is your baby head butting and crying instead?
19. Did you wait too long to feed her? Can’t you read her subtle hunger clues yet? You are a total failure as a mother and as a person.
20. Relax! Your milk won’t let down if you don’t relax! Your baby will starve!
21. There — her mouth is open, go, go, go! Latch her now!
22. Why are you jerking your whole body? Remember, it’s a smooth motion of the right arm!
23. OK, good, she’s on. Now, remember, your goal is an asymmetrical latch, meaning you want to get more of the lower part of your areola into her mouth than the top part.
24. If you can’t see around your baby’s head to check the position of your areola, try asking a helpful neighbor to come over and take a look.
25. Is her top lip flanged?
26. Is her lower lip flanged?
27. Can you see her jaw moving and her ear wiggling?
28. Do you see and hear her swallowing?
29. If not, you should take her off and practice latching her again and again until you get it right.
30. However, if it takes too long, she’ll be too hungry to do it properly, so make sure to do it quickly (but absolutely correctly).
31. Relax! Drop those shoulders!
32. Now, make sure you nurse her long enough on each breast so that she gets the extra fatty hind milk. Do you not know about the hind milk?! Without it, your baby will wither away and die.
33. No pressure. Just relax!
Next Up in Chapter 2: “Your Guide to Getting Back to the Workplace While Still Fulfilling Your Sacred Duty as a Mother” (How on earth will you do it all? Hint: Your breast pump comes with a car charger!)