Here is a tip that may help you in the early days of breastfeeding.
As you may remember from one of the stories in the book my son happened to be born in a hospital without rooming in and without any offer of breastfeeding support. When the nurses would bring my baby to me for feeding, they’d leave him in the crib and disappear very quickly. As a first-time mother, prior to my nursing career, I would look at the empty doorway, and look at my baby, and wonder what I was supposed to do. Without any offer to help me I concluded that I should, as a mother now, know how to breastfeed.
I was so excited to hold my baby and so in awe of him, this tiny person who came to live with me, that I would end up just visiting with him as I got lost in the wonder of it all. He slept (so it seemed to me) on my chest as I explored fingers and toes and got to know him. My inexperienced eye judged him as sleepy rather than hungry. I never managed to feed him while in the hospital even though milk ran down both sides of my body in response to holding him. When the nurse would return to check on me I would say “He’s not really hungry” … and they would let me! They’d whisk him away back to the nursery and, thankfully, feed him a bottle of formula. I was discharged 24 hours after birth, and it never occurred to me that breastfeeding might have some challenges.
From Home to ED
After breastfeeding my baby by connecting baby and breast as best I knew how, my baby developed projectile vomiting. I took him to the Emergency Department to rule out stomach problems. After examining him and viewing the X-ray the doctor was surprised to report that my baby was “90% air!” A few questions about feeding revealed that I needed help with breastfeeding. The ED nurse watched what I was doing and then gave me this valuable tip that I want to share with you.
She realized that with my lack of experience I was not waiting for my baby to open his mouth wide enough before trying to latch him for feeding. Consequently he had a poor latch and took in a lot of air with feeding. The nurse suggested I take a good look at how wide his mouth opened when he was crying. I was so surprised at the shape of his mouth! She told me to wait until I saw his mouth open about that wide before trying to connect him for feeding. She guided me to the perfect latch and let me feed him for awhile before leaving. Breastfeeding suddenly became very easy and very rewarding … for both of us. I was able to breastfeed for 14 months, and even today I am so grateful for the help.
Perhaps this little tip will help you when you are first learning about breastfeeding your newborn. A good latch involves a wide-open mouth, and your baby will define “wide open” during crying or yawning. Now we know!