Positioning: It’s All About the (Baby’s) Chin.

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Babies and breasts come in different shapes and sizes. This may be a very obvious statement but it bears consideration when we bring babies and breasts together. Suzanne Colson, Nancy Mohrbacher, and Christina Smillie teach us to lie back to achieve good positioning. This often works very well but not for everyone. If a parent lies back and the nipple points downward, the baby cannot get in a position where the chin contacts the breast under the nipple.

In the past, breastfeeding helpers taught the tickle (the lips with the nipple) wait for a wide open mouth, and RAM (rapid arm movement) method. Some providers suggest aiming the nipple toward the palate or brushing the upper lip with the breast and waiting for a wide open mouth. But what comes next? Often the baby’s head is pushed onto the breast and the baby can’t breathe and becomes frustrated. Or the baby is brought to the breast but closes their mouth on the way causing a shallow latch. Why is it so hard?

Again, breasts and babies come in different shapes. Some babies have very receding chins. Some breasts are very round and some are flatter or softer or smaller or larger or…

The best positioning for a particular parent and baby is to be sure that the baby’s chin contacts the breast before latching. Chin contact below the nipple allows a baby to achieve a deeper latch. There are many techniques that can help achieve this positioning (try Googling “laid-back breastfeeding” or “flipple” or “deep latch technique”) but the technique needs to match the shape of the baby and the breast so they come together in harmony.

I absolutely love the following photo for showing how to position your baby.

http://www.cwgenna.com/quickhelp.html (click on “Latching Your Baby 101”)

Whatever your shape or your baby’s shape, if you can achieve chin contact before latching, you may have a more comfortable latch. If not, you might just need more help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Choosing a Breastfeeding Helper

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Parents who are struggling with breastfeeding need high-quality, timely support in order to ensure they meet their breastfeeding goals. Because optimal breastfeeding is critical for the health of Baby and Parent, it is important that they receive the best help available.

There are many knowledgeable volunteer breastfeeding supporters that can help parents to breastfeed. Often this peer-to-peer help is all that is needed to resolve a breastfeeding difficulty. For more complicated problems such as low milk-supply, painful breastfeeding, babies who have difficulty latching, and slow weight-gain, it is important to get timely professional help in order to get back on track quickly.

I frequently see parents who have tried many other professional breastfeeding helpers and did not receive the help they needed. Time, energy, and resources may have been wasted. Delays in following the best interventions often result in parents not meeting their breastfeeding goals and babies missing out on optimal breastfeeding. High quality professional breastfeeding support may seem expensive but it saves time, effort, and financial resources in the the long run. Additionally, lactation help from an IBCLC is usually reimbursable by insurance.

Parents are often confused about the many different kinds of professional breastfeeding support providers available in the community. It is critical that parents have access to information regarding these differences so that they can make informed decisions about whom to hire for help. The following links explain the different types of breastfeeding supporters and the training required for each. Be aware that the term “Lactation Consultant” can be used by anyone, no matter what training or experience they have with breastfeeding.

http://uslca.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Whos-Who-Short1.pdf

http://massbreastfeeding.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Landscape-of-Breastfeeding-Support-03-31-14.pdf

The following article explains why I chose to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

http://feedthebabyllc.com/why-i-became-an-international-board-certified-lactation-consultant/