It’s not uncommon for new mothers to have some difficulty breastfeeding. Learning how to position baby’s head, mouth, throat, and body may feel awkward at first for new mothers and it can be difficult to know whether baby is getting enough nutrition.

Breastfeeding is great if possible because it’s more nutritious and easier to digest than formula. It also provides support to baby’s immune and digestive systems and can reduce the risk of allergies and infections.

The two most common positions for breastfeeding are the cradle and the football or clutch position. For the cradle hold, baby is positioned in front of the mother, with his or her head facing one breast and the body in a straight line in front of the mother’s abdomen. If the mother has had a c-section and doesn’t want to put any pressure on the abdomen, the football or clutch hold can be used. With the football position, baby’s body is underneath mother’s arm, with his or her torso and legs stretching out along mom’s side, and head near one breast. Baby is positioned on his or her back or tilted slightly onto one side so that she or he can easily reach the nipple. Baby’s head can be supported by the mother’s forearm or a pillow placed under his or her body.

One word of advice is to take advantage of the hospital’s lactation consultant if one is available. The consultant can provide an extra level of support especially for preterm babies, babies born via c-section, first-time mothers, or mothers with medical conditions such as diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Women will typically observe increased milk production within 3 days of giving birth but the previously mentioned conditions can delay milk increase, making a lactation consultant especially helpful. At two weeks old, the goal is to have baby consume 24oz of milk (700-1000 mL) every 24 hours.

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