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“Breastfeeding reminds us of the universal truth of abundance; the more we give out, the more we are filled up, and that divine nourishment – the source from which we all draw, is like a mother’s breast, ever full and ever flowing.” – Sarah Buckley.
Breastfeeding is the primary source of food and nourishment for the baby. It promotes a strong bond between the mother and her new-born. Besides having a calming effect on the baby, nursing offers a sense of security and comfort to the little one. It is highly recommended that the baby is exclusively breastfed in the initial few months before being introduced to formula milk and solid food. Even after the baby starts with an alternate source of nourishment, breastfeeding should continue for as long as the baby and mommy are comfortable. Some babies will continue to latch on to their mother for a comfort-feed until they are toddlers. Finding a comfortable position to feed your little one will take a few days of experimenting with different positions. When it comes to nursing, the lying down breastfeeding position for newborns is recommended by expert doctors and experienced mothers.
What is the Side-Lying Breastfeeding Position?
The nursing position in which the mother and the baby are lying side-ways and facing each other, their bellies are aligned parallelly and their knees are slightly flexed is called the ‘Side-lying Breastfeeding Position’. This position offers comfort to both, the mother and the baby. Breastfeeding in this position can be done on a large bed or on the floor. Invest in a comfortable floor bed and a feeding pillow if required. If you are concerned that the baby might roll away from the bed and fall, raise the bed railing or tuck a pool noodle between the sheet and the mattress to form a protective barrier.
Is the Side-Lying Breastfeeding Safe?
The baby needs to be nursed every few hours throughout the day. Feeding in a seated position or cradling the baby in your arms every time while nursing can be tiring. The side-lying breastfeeding position is as natural as sleeping. Initially, you might need some time to figure out the placement of your breast, arms, and the baby. Once you find a comfortable position, feeding side-ways is easy. This position is pretty safe for both mom and the baby. However, take care of these details when breastfeeding side-ways.
1. Co-Sleeping and Bed-Sharing
During the night, the mother may want to let the baby share the bed with her, so she does not have to get up and lift the baby from the crib for feeding at night. However, co-sleeping is one of the major reasons for SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is recommended that the baby sleeps on a separate bed or in the crib. Another option is to invest in an attachable crib. Simply lock the crib with the bed as an extension for the baby.
2. Sleeping Off Mid-Feed
The mommy might fall asleep while the baby is still latched to her breast for nursing. The baby will continue to suckle in sleep and there are chances of overfeeding or choking on milk, suffocating under large breasts, or getting tangled in a blanket.
The baby needs to be burped post-feeding to release the air trapped. There may be gas formation in the tummy or hiccups as a result of this air. This can be very discomforting and baby might get colicky or overly fussy. Burping will need you to lift the baby and this may wake up the little one.
Weigh the pros and cons before you begin to actively practice this feeding position.
When to Choose the Side-Lying Nursing Position
There are multiple benefits associated with side-lying nursing. It would be a wise decision to invest in a side-lying breastfeeding pillow for maximum comfort. It is recommended that you nurse the baby in this position under the following circumstances.
1. When You Are in the Hospital
You are still exhausted after the delivery and you want to rest. At the same time, you have to nurse the baby. It will be convenient to feed the baby lying down sideways. This position is also comfortable for the baby to take the feed effortlessly.
2. C-Section Delivery
Recovering from a caesarian section will take some time. You have to avoid pressure on your stomach and abrasions on the incision. Side-lying breastfeeding is recommended by experts to help you heal faster.
3. Night Feeding
If momma and baby are sharing the bed, nighttime feeding can be easy. Just pull the baby closer and start feeding without having to get up and lift the baby from the crib. However, it is recommended that the baby sleeps in the crib or the bassinet to avoid chances of SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. You can also invest in an attachable crib.
4. Well-Endowed Breasts
Lactating can make your tender breasts feel heavier. Latching the baby in a seated position can be awkward for mommy and leave lesser room for the baby to breathe. For mommies with large breasts, side-lying breastfeeding can be more comfortable.
5. Sleepy Baby
The baby is about to sleep and it is time to feed. Waking up the baby for a feed might end up in colic and fussiness. At such times, it is recommended that you quietly sneak up next to the baby and feed in the reclining position.
6. Tired and Exhausted
Caring for a new-born can be exhausting. The mom is already exhausted with birthing, and her body needs rest. Sitting up to feed again and again can add to tiredness. Sleeping and feeding allow her to continue nursing and resting at the same time.
Side-Lying Breastfeeding Step By Step Procedure
Breastfeeding comes naturally and, eventually, the mommy and baby will find a position that is comfortable for both. In case of difficulty, you can take the help of the nursing staff or an elder to guide you. Check with experienced mommies or consult a lactation expert if you are facing a challenge with nursing in a particular position. Follow these simple steps for a successful side-lying breastfeeding experience.
- Place your baby on the back in the middle of the bed or on a mat spread on the floor.
- Prep the bed with a few extra pillows near the bedrest and side rails. Ensure there are no bedsheets or loose covers near the baby to avoid accidental choking in case the baby rolls over.
- Lie down next to the baby in a comfortable position with a pillow under your head for the support.
- Rollover to your side. You can use a pillow to support your back and another pillow between your knees for added comfort.
- Ensure that your back and hips are aligned to form a straight line. This is important to avoid back pain at a later stage. Bending your knees slightly will make things more comfortable.
- Bring the baby closer to your breast with the face turned towards you in a cuddling position.
- Support the baby’s back with your arm. You can also place a pillow next to the baby for extra support. Your spine should form a “V” with the baby’s spine connected at hips.
- Line up the baby’s mouth with your nipples and support the head with another arm.
- Guide the baby to latch on to your breast and suckle. If this position does not feel comfortable, detach the baby by placing your finger between the baby’s mouth and your breast, and break the suction seal. Try again until you feel comfortable. Lean forward as you switch to the other breast for feeding after a while. This may need some practice before you and the baby settle in a comfortable position.
- Once the baby has latched correctly, relax, and continue the feeding.
- After the baby is well-fed, unlatch the little one from your breast and place the baby back in the crib.
- Remember to burp the baby after a successful nursing session by holding him upright.
- Keep a soft cloth handy to clean the spit-up and remember to swaddle the baby after the nursing session.
Breastfeeding is an important part of motherhood. The bond between the mother and the baby grows stronger with time. These are memorable moments in life. Relish every single day. Make nursing a happy experience for both mommy and baby!