Newborns use their hands to help find the breast. Their vision isn’t great so they have to rely on other senses in order to find the source of food and survive.
The nipple area emits the same smell as the amniotic fluid they swam around in for so long. It helps guide the baby in the right direction. That’s why initially it is suggested to not wash your breast in the early days. Their hands ALSO smell like amniotic fluid so letting the infant suck their hands until they choose to STOP will help them prepare for feeding. Covering them with mitts, swaddling them or moving their hands out of the way DURING nursing sessions is actually making things worse.
Your baby will give a few feeding cues and as long as you know what to watch for you can start the latching process before they melt down and lose it.
•eyes start to flutter and you can see the eyeballs moving back and forth under the closed eyelid as they awake from a dreamy sleep.
•licking lips, opening mouth, sticking tongue out seemingly licking the air
•sucking on hands or anything near the mouth
•fussing, trying to bat at you or lean/thrust themselves toward the breast
•crying….oh boy, you better listen because things are about to get rough
•once they reach screaming status it will take you a minute (or several) to calm them enough to latch as their nervous system is jacked up and you need to sooth them first. Don’t wait for this feeding cue if you want to have an easier experience at feeding time.
Allowing your infant to touch the breast helps your body produce oxytocin and get the nipple erect in anticipation for a feed. Letting them push against the breast or knead it like a cat pushes on a blanket actually massages the breast and signals deep in the glands to send more down the shoot. Let’s use this to our benefit!
Too often we try to be logical as we learn to feed our first newborn and end up halting these innate responses the baby naturally does. Now you know your newborn is actually helping!
Seek help from an IBCLC in your area. They will be the best thing to help guide you and make suggestions for a more productive nursing journey.
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Hi, I'm Dr. Heidi!
A mom of 3, pediatric chiropractor, natural remedy guru and wellness educator.
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