How your breasts produce milk
Your body makes two hormones that are important to breastfeeding: prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin makes the cells in the alveoli produce the milk. Oxytocin causes cells in the alveoli to contract and expel the milk.
Milk production and delivery run on supply and demand. Breastfeeding stimulates the production of prolactin and oxytocin.
Suckling and emptying the breast signals the
need to make more milk. That way, the more your baby nurses, the more your breasts will make milk.
You don't have to drink milk to make milk. You do, however, need to drink fluids. That means drinking eight to 10 glasses a day. Having a supply of water next to where you nurse will make it easier to get enough fluids each day.
How your baby nurses
When your baby nurses, he drains your breasts of milk by compressing (squeezing) your areola and nipple against the roof of his mouth, creating suction. The feel of his tongue and mouth on the nerve endings in your nipple tells your body to release the hormone oxytocin
Oxytocin makes your breasts "let-down" or release your milk. Your breast may tingle for a minute and milk may drip out of both nipples.
How to position your baby
It is important to hold your baby in a way that is comfortable for both of you. There are several different positions you can try. You and your baby will learn which ones are the best for you.
Regardless of the position that you use, it is important to keep your baby's head, shoulders, and hips in a straight line. In addition, your baby's cheeks and chin should
touch your breast. It is also important to bring your baby to your breast rather than your breast to your baby. This will prevent you from getting a sore back from leaning over.
Here are some positions you can try:
- Cradle hold
—Place a pillow or two in your lap to support your baby and get her to breast level.
—Place her head on the crook of your arm.
—Keep your elbow close to your body to help your baby keep her chin up.
—Turn her tummy and hips to face yours. Don't have her rest on her back and just turn her head.
- Cross-cradle hold
—Position your baby so she is tummy-to-tummy and she is lying across your lap.
—Support her back with your forearm and hold the base (back) of her head in your hand.
—Hold your breast with your free hand until she has latched on to your nipple. You may need to hold your breast for the entire feeding.
—When your baby starts to nurse, you may want to switch your arms to the cradle hold position.
- Clutch hold or football hold
—Place a pillow or two at your side to support your arm and raise your baby to breast level.
—Support her back with your forearm and hold the base (back) of her head and neck with your hand. Use your forearm to hold her tummy against your side.
—Hold your breast with your free hand.
- Lying-down hold
—Lie on your side with pillows supporting your back. Bend the knee of your top leg so that you are comfortably turned on your side.
—Place your baby on her side, facing you. She should be close to you with her face at breast level.
- Recline hold
—Lie on your back, supported by pillows.
—Place your baby on her tummy across your chest with her face close to one breast.