Do I need to hold my breast when breastfeeding?

Do I need to hold my breast when breastfeeding?

“Should I hold my breast when breastfeeding?” One of the most common worries of new mothers is that their baby will latch on too closely to the breast and not be able to breathe anymore. This is why some people tell mothers to hold their breast with their fingers, to keep the baby’s nose free.

But do I need to hold my breast when breastfeeding?

No, it’s not necessary. You might have seen this somewhere such as in antique paintings of a breastfeeding mother, where most women in the images breastfeed by holding their breast with their fingers in a scissor hold, U-hold, or C-hold. And from those ancient images, we have copied the idea that keeping the baby’s nose clear might be necessary. But we keep applying this concept even though science and knowledge about breastfeeding have advanced, and we know now that this is not needed: babies can be attached to the breast, eat, and breathe at the same time.

So, how do they breathe so close to the breast?

Through their nostrils, the holes in the nose. Yes, through these mini nostrils, babies can breathe perfectly. And even though they will be attached very close, they are always free when they suckle at the breast. A baby can breathe perfectly well through the nostrils; the mother doesn’t have to move her breast away.

The only problem is when they have a cold or a blocked nose. When this happens, they will protest and become very nervous when suckling because they will not be able to suck, swallow and breathe at the same time as they need to.

Can a baby stop breathing at the breast?

No, as long as the baby’s head is free. That’s why it’s so important that when breastfeeding, the baby’s head is not restricted, and there is nothing behind it. Not your hand, not a pillow, nor a rolled-up towel, nothing. Babies prefer to breathe while they are eating, so they have a built-in mechanism to do both safely. When they feel something pushing on their heads, they tilt their heads back so they can make sure they will be able to breathe.

Often, at the beginning of breastfeeding, mothers explain how their baby gets angry at the breast, pulls away, turns the head away, resists, and seems not to want the breast. But this happens because of how the mother approaches the baby to her breast: when she brings the baby closer to her breast by pushing the back of the baby’s head towards her. Then the baby resists because of their reflex to keep the nose free to breathe.

Why should I not hold my breast during the feed?

First of all, because it is not needed. You also “lose” a useful hand by trying to keep your breast away from the baby’s nose. Furthermore, holding the breast during the feed could unintentionally cause the baby to latch on poorly (more on how to achieve a good latch here). Lastly, obstructions and blockages can also happen if the pressure on the areola does not allow the milk to flow easily.

So we should leave the famous scissor hold to the women in the antique pictures and keep one hand free, as we are sure you can do with a free hand.

You can find more information on all things breastfeeding in our App LactApp, available to download for free for iPhone and Android.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *