Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How Can You Tell if Your Newborn is Nursing Well?

We see many moms at our meetings that tell us that breastfeeding started off well for the first few days.  But then things became more challenging when they got home, or the family found out at the first doctor's visit that after the normal initial weight loss, the baby's weight was still going down.

Sometimes it's really clear that a baby is not nursing well - mom might be in a lot of pain, or maybe diaper counts are low, or sometimes a baby has a hard time initiating a latch.

Often we find that latch problems can be solved with the "training wheels" of breastfeeding - the Laid Back Breastfeeding Position (see the amazing article "Many Moms Have Been Taught to Breastfeed Incorrectly"  and the wonderful videos by Nancy Mohrbacher), and also with the use of helpful Breast Compressions.  (And for more helpful links, please see our "Breastfeeding 101" info in the "Get ready for breastfeeding" tab (above))

Sometimes, though, it's easy to think that the baby is nursing well when they may not be.  In these cases the baby latches on, mom is comfortable while breastfeeding, and baby stays on the breast.  These families are told "yep, latch looks great!".  But, for too many families there's a critical piece of information that is not communicated - and that is:

What does it look like when a baby is drinking milk?

Jack Newman "Really Good Drinking" YouTube

We think this is essential information for parents to know and here's the trick - a baby truly drinking at the breast will open their jaw widely during the act of nursing (as shown in the video above).  As long as there are no problems with mom's supply, every time you see a baby's chin go to it's maximum opening and pause for a moment, baby is probably getting milk.

But, if a baby is nibbling at the breast - fluttering their jaw, sucking in their cheeks to generate suction - then it is very likely that their latch is not effective enough and needs attention.  Here's a good example of nibbling:

Jack Newman "Nibbling" YouTube

This video - Attaching Your Baby at the Breast - from Global Health Media is also a gem for learning more about this topic.  It covers how to tell if a baby is deeply attached, and ideas for how to achieve a deep latch.

A less efficient suck can lead to slow weight gain (or weight loss!), and a lower milk supply if unchecked.  When a baby is not gaining weight, or being very fussy at the breast, women are often told that their supply is the primary problem; and while some women do have supply issues to begin with, it is WAY more common for low supply to be caused by an inefficient latch.

There are solution for latch problems. Getting help from La Leche League and/or through a visit with an IBCLC (see tabs above to find lactation help) are among the best ways to find those answers.

The above videos, and many other excellent videos and information sheets (on a wide variety of breastfeeding topics) can be found on Dr. Jack Newman's website.  Also, this Facebook post from Dr. Jack Newman's page provides a detailed description of how to evaluate the effectiveness of a baby's latch as well.

Please contact a leader if you have any questions or concerns!!

No comments:

Post a Comment