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How will I know when my baby is in the right position?

Although breastfeeding may seem like an effortless and natural process, for some mothers and babies, it can be a challenge to start with. However there are a few basic rules that should help you to know if your baby is in the right position;

Firstly, try not to force the nipple into your baby’s mouth. Wait for him/her to lean towards it. For this to happen, your baby must be directly turned towards you. Their head, shoulders and body should be in a straight line. Remember that your baby should always be 'tummy to mummy'. His/her lower lip should be below your nipple. You can stroke your baby’s lip with your nipple, or allow a few drops of milk on to his/her lips. If your baby wants to feed, he/she will open their mouth to receive the nipple. If so, draw your baby closer so that he/she can latch on across the nipple around the areola (the darker skin around the nipple). Avoid bending forward, as it will cause back ache, and a poor technique. You need to ensure your baby has the whole nipple and not sucking on the tip, as the nipple will become sore. Move your baby towards the breast so that his/her mouth touches the nipple and encourages the mouth to open wide. Once baby is in the right position you should not be able to see any of your nipple, just a small area of the areola. It should also feel comfortable for you both.

There are some key signs that your baby is properly attached to your breast:

Their bottom lip is curled back, the chin is touching the breast, their mouth is wide open, your areola is showing more above his/her top lip than under his/her bottom lip, and your baby’s sucking pattern changes to long deep sucks.

A useful information sheet on breastfeeding can be found at NHS direct; http://cks.library.nhs.uk/patient_information_leaflet/breastfeeding

If possible you should try to attend your local antenatal class, where the midwife will discuss infant feeding. The emphasis will be on breastfeeding though, as this is the recommended method to give your baby the best possible start in life. The National Childbirth Trust NCT (NCT) www.nct.org.uk and La Leche League (LLL) http://www.laleche.org.uk

Also run classes, however, you may need to pay for these. Visit their web sites for further details.

Ref: Ref; Expecting everything you need to know about pregnancy labour and birth 2004.McGrail A, Metland D

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