So, you are breastfeeding your baby. Great! Now, it is time to understand the cues for successful breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is an important and natural way to nourish the baby. It provides the little one with the best possible nutrition and can also help strengthen the mother’s bond with the baby. However, like any other new skilled task, breastfeeding can be challenging, especially in the early days.
Is my baby getting enough breastmilk? Am I feeding my baby properly? These are the common queries and worries in mother’s mind.
Fortunately, nature has created several cues or signals to help the mother and the baby breastfeed successfully. Understanding these cues will help in ensuring that the baby gets the breastmilk at the right time and in the right amounts. Here are;
5 Cues for successful breastfeeding:
- Rooting Reflex
- Hunger Cues
- Comfortable Position
- Sucking and Swallowing
- Empty Breasts
Cue #1: Rooting Reflex
The rooting reflex is a natural reflex that newborns have, which helps them locate the breast. When a baby’s cheek is touched or brushed against the breast, they will turn their head towards the touch and open their mouth wide. This is a sign that they are ready to breastfeed.
Cue #2: Hunger Cues
Hunger cues can help you understand when your baby is ready to feed and can prevent them from becoming too hungry or upset. Hunger cues can be divided into three categories: early, intermediate, and late.
Early Hunger Cues:
Early hunger cues are subtle and easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. Some of the early hunger cues include:
- Stirring or waking up from sleep
- Stretching and moving arms and legs
- Smacking lips or licking lips
- Sucking on fists or fingers
- Turning head towards the breast or bottle
- Making cooing or grunting noises
If you notice these signs, it’s a good time to start offering the breastfeed.
Intermediate Hunger Cues:
Intermediate hunger cues are more apparent and indicate that your baby is getting hungrier. These cues may include:
- Opening and closing the mouth
- Rooting or searching for the breast or bottle
- Making sucking noises
- Making more frequent noises or cries
If you notice these cues, it’s important to start feeding your baby as soon as possible.
Late Hunger Cues:
Late hunger cues are the most apparent and occur when your baby is very hungry and upset. Late hunger cues include:
- Crying and fussing
- Moving the head from side to side
- Clenching fists
- Arching the back
It is best to avoid getting to this stage and try to feed your baby before they become too upset.
Cue #3: Swallowing and Sucking
When your baby is breastfeeding effectively, you will hear them swallowing and sucking. This is a sign that they are getting enough milk, and that they are latching on correctly.
Cue #4: Comfortable Position
Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable if you are not in a comfortable position. You should try to find a position that allows you to relax and support your baby. There are several positions you can try, including the cradle hold, the football hold, and the side-lying position.
Correct latching position is also important where the baby is not just sucking at the nipple, but also holding in mouth the areola or the dark part around the nipple. It will make sure of adequate breastmilk release by pressing the milk glands situated in areola while sucking. It will also avoid sore nipples.
Cue #5: Empty Breasts
As your baby breastfeeds, they will drain your breast of milk. You will know that your breast is empty when your baby starts to suckle less frequently and with less intensity. You may also notice that your breast feels softer and less full.
In conclusion, breastfeeding can be challenging at times especially in the early days, but with the right cues, you and your baby can breastfeed successfully. Remember to watch for your baby’s rooting reflex, hunger cues, swallowing and sucking, find a comfortable position, and monitor your breast to ensure they are being emptied. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, do not hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant for support.