Positioning a newborn for breastfeeding can be an awkward affair. Their little bodies are wiggly and floppy. They love to put their hands by their faces and sometimes bat at the breast, sabotaging their own efforts to latch. After a few minutes of getting baby into the right spot and (presto!) achieving that latch, they come off the breast after a few sucks. And so the process starts again.
Once baby is finally sustaining the latch, a lot of moms still have a “pinchy” sensation. They usually consider two choices: A) unlatch the baby and start over, or B) grin and bear it. Neither option is particularly appealing, particularly if it took a lot of effort to get the baby on the breast in the first place. Let me offer choice C) snuggle and slide.
This simple maneuver works in any breastfeeding position. All mom needs to do is put her hand on baby’s back (not the head, which can lead to arching and fussing), and slide her baby’s body in the direction the feet are pointing. Sometimes, baby just needs to move an inch or two in order for that pinching sensation to subside.
Why does this work? Bringing baby in closer to mom’s body often deepens the latch, and sliding creates a bit of space between baby’s chin and chest to allow baby to open wider. This move also gives baby a better airway and swallowing ability, both of which are essential for good drinking.
Breastfeeding is a dynamic activity, an interaction between two live bodies, so it makes sense to continually adjust throughout the feeding. I encourage my clients to experiment with moving their babies’ bodies across or slightly up or down and course correct if that pinchy feeling returns. It’s an empowering and effective strategy that gets moms to drop into their own bodies and find their own ways to breastfeed comfortably. And lest you think that I coined the adorable term “snuggle and slide,” it actually comes from one of my favorite papers by Dr. Pamela Douglas and Renee Keogh in the Journal of Human Lactation.
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One lactation consultant's musings about milk.