What is the Clutch Hold?

While breastfeeding your baby there are many ways to hold your baby. Each position has it’s own nuances that may be better suited for your needs.

In the clutch hold, baby is positioned to the side of mother during breastfeeding, tucked under her arm. It is especially helpful for babies who have difficulty latching on; babies who arch their back and squirm at the breast; babies who come off the nipple frequently during breastfeeding; and babies who are small or premature (1a).

In this position you get a good view of baby latching onto the breast, while your hand at the nape of his neck gives you control of his head. Baby is bent at the waist, which helps tense babies relax better. If his body is relaxed, he’ll latch on better.

To achieve best results, sit up in bed or in a comfortable armchair with your back and shoulders well supported. Position one or more pillows at your side to bring baby up to breast level. If you’re sitting in a chair, wedge the pillows between you and the arm of the chair.Place baby on the pillow, tucked under your arm, with your hand on that side supporting his neck and shoulders. Bend him in the middle, so that his legs are pointed upward and his bottom rests against the pillow supporting your back, or against the back of the chair. Be sure that baby does not push his feet against the back of the chair, causing him to arch his back (1b).

Cup the nape of his neck in your hand. Avoid holding the back of baby’s head, as this stimulates some babies to arch away from the breast. If baby finds your touch too stimulating, put a cloth diaper or a receiving blanket between your hand and his skin.Pull baby in close to you. Once baby is sucking well, wedge a pillow under the hand and wrist that are supporting baby at the breast to help hold him close. Lean back into the pillows behind your shoulders, rather than hunching forward over your baby. Remember, bring the baby to the breast, not the breast to the baby (1c).

 

Citations:

1: http://babies411.com/information-station/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-positions-the-football-hold-the-clutch-hold-new.html

The Let Down Reflex

The let down reflex is when the nerves in your breasts send out signals that releases the milk in the milk ducts when the baby begins to nurse.It is normal for let-down not to feel as strong as your baby gets older. Some mothers never feel let-down, and some stop feeling the let-down sensation as time goes by. This does not necessarily indicate that let-down is not taking place (1a).

Reliable signs of a healthy, functioning let-down include: (1b)

  • In the first week or so, mother may notice uterine cramping during letdown.
  • Baby changes his sucking pattern from short and choppy (like a pacifier suck) at the beginning of the feeding to more long, drawing, and rhythmic a minute or so into the feeding.
  • Mother may have a feeling of calm, relaxation, sleepiness or drowsiness.
  • Mother may have a strong sensation of thirst while breastfeeding.
  • Baby is swallowing more often. A swallow sounds like a small puff of air coming out the baby’s nose and you can usually see the muscle moving in front of the baby’s ear, giving the baby the appearance of his earlobes subtly wiggling.

Occasionally, mothers will also experience other symptoms during let-down, including itching, nausea, headaches, or negative emotions. It’s quite normal for a mother to have a harder time letting down when pumping than when nursing. The milk may be there, but you may have a hard time letting down and “releasing” the milk. Some mothers also have a let-down which is not functioning properly when baby is nursing. (2a)

Many things can be the cause of a slow or inhibited let-down: anxiety, pain, embarrassment, stress, cold, excessive caffeine use, smoking, use of alcohol, or the use of some medications. Mothers who have had breast surgery may have nerve damage that can interfere with let-down. In extreme situations of stress or crisis, the release of extra adrenaline in the mother’s system (the “fight or flight” response) can reduce or block the hormones which affect let-down (2b).

Sometimes a cycle is created, where baby fusses and pulls off because the let-down is slow, which makes mom tense up, which makes the let-down even slower, etc. You can use relaxation techniques and let-down cues to break this cycle (2c).

Citations:

1:http://www.breastmilkcounts.com/let-down-reflex.html.

2: http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/letdown/

Cluster Feeding Babies

Breastfeeding Question: What Is Cluster Feeding?

Cluster feedings are apparent when a baby has periods where he constantly breastfeeds for about three hours or so. Sometimes baby might fall asleep on the breast, refusing to let go and wanting to nurse more when waking. These babies are usually cranky and fussy and extremely demanding. Cluster nursing usually happens in the evenings, but can happen any time during the day or at the middle of the night. Cluster breastfeeding is very common in newborn babies. Cluster feeding at night can become very tedious, mom and baby will usually end up sleeping in the same bed. During the day, the baby might breastfeed a few times and sleep in-between, in the evenings they catch up with a period of constant feeding.

Cluster feedings do not mean that the mother has a low milk supply. Supplementing baby with formula will cause the body to produce less milk, continuing with the cluster feeding will make sure the body is making just the right amount of breast milk for baby.

hungry baby, grey eyed baby,Newborn cluster feeding is a temporary thing and learning to work around it and accept it will help you enjoy your breastfeeding experience more. Infant cluster feeding can actually work to the advantage for moms who are returning to work, as babies who cluster feed usually sleep longer at night. Moms can also use this time as a time to relax and bond with baby.

Possible causes for cluster feedings are growth spurts, acid reflux, breast milk supply is generally lower in the evenings and evening feeds are not as rich as morning breast milk, baby having extra sucking needs in the evening, colic, slower milk flow in evenings, or baby wanting more attention in the evening.

Some tips for mothers whose babies are cluster feeding are taking the baby to the pediatrician to make sure that the problem is not caused through acid reflux. Prepare for a cluster feed if you know the baby usually cluster feeds at a certain time of the day. Get baby to breastfeed while in a sling , this will be helpful in doing whatever you want to do while baby is breastfeeding. This also helps if baby is fussy. Try doing something while baby is breastfeeding like reading your favorite magazine, watching a movie or chatting on the phone. And finally, try feeding the baby on demand, not on a schedule.

Read More:

How Long Does it Take to Nurse?
When Is It Time To Stop A Breastfeeding Session?

Is It Okay To Let My Baby Breastfeed For Comfort?
Common Misconceptions about Breast Milk Supply
More On Cluster Feeding

Second latch

Again, just like in ‘First Latch’ this breastfeeding video is showing excellent practice in lactation support. Mother and baby are both comfortable, Dr Jack Newman is quiet and respectful of them both. No coercion is happening at all, and most importantly, no hands are on the back of baby’s head, trying to force matters. Notice that when the mother trails her nipple across the baby’s top lip, and the baby opens its mouth really wide in response, that the mother and Dr Jack move the baby forward ever so slightly from the supportive position of holding the baby’s shoulders and the base of the neck. Nothing is pushing this baby out of alignment, just the whole body moving forward a quarter inch so that ‘gape’ now has a lot of breast in it.

If you think about it, and put your own hand on the back of your head now and push… what happens? Your head moves down, your mouth closes and your throat is constricted. This is not gong to help you open your mouth really wide and swallow well.

Baby’s head actually needs to move back and up, not forward and down. The positioning of the baby (presenting the baby to the breast) and the calm and confident way the mother is holding and supporting the baby along her body and on the shoulders and base of the neck, is allowing this baby to ‘gape’ without any stress.

But do remember – what works for your baby works for you! There is no ‘one way’ to do this. You’ll find your own path with your little one – trust yourself, trust baby!

If you ever see a breastfeeding video (especially on YouTube, where formula manufacturers place videos to lure you to their formula sites) where the baby is having its mouth forced open, or where the baby has a hand on the back of its head, being ‘pushed’ onto the breast – be aware this is not Good Practice – and may ruin your breastfeeding relationship for a while, until baby recovers from being forced.

Dr Jack discusses this so clearly in this video, that the conversation is just as valuable as seeing that powerful little mouth work that breast tissue and get loads of milk!

What he’s saying, and showing, makes good sense. Mothers need to be confident and supported and relaxed, and babies need to be with their mothers. A good milk supply comes from letting the baby have as much access to the breast as possible in the vital first few weeks. Taking baby off the breast, sticking a dummy or pacifier in its mouth when it cries, scheduling feeds for set times and for set amounts of time, having one bottle of top up formula to keep Grandmother happy… all these things can compromise your milk supply in the first few weeks. So be aware of the effect of such interventions, and use them wisely.
 
It’s hard being a new Mum, and you often feel you ‘have to get on’ and do other things in those first few weeks. But resting and letting baby breastfeed as much as you can, and getting others to do housework and laundry and bring you nice things to eat…is what ‘support’ is all about! (Not having people saying “He’s not feeding again!?! Why don’t you give him formula is he’s so hungry?” or “Well if you let me bottle feed her, I can take her off your hands and you get some sleep.” Advice like this is a poke in the eye with a blunt stick!)

Third latch

A really short clip that shows very clearly the baby’s jaw going up and down, and shows the ‘pause’ as the baby’s mouth fills with milk. So many mothers have their confidence eroded by others well meaning (and not so well meaning) comments, become paranoid that Baby Isn’t Getting Enough Milk!!!

Proper hydration is vital for the baby, especially in the first few days, whilst you wait for the transmission of your milk from gold milk (colostrum) to white milk. Production is low in the first few days, in order not to flood baby out, and let baby build in both confidence and skill. Constant licking and stimulating of the nipples as it laps up gold milk, will keep baby well hydrated, even if its not latching on yet. It will also build your milk supply wonderfully!

First Latch

This is an excellent breastfeeding video, by the wonderful Dr Jack Newman. showing a classic cross-cradle hold, and a baby latching well. Notice how gentle and respectful of the baby Dr Newman, and the mother, are. Only two interventions happen – one to pull the baby’s hand gently out of the camera view – so you can see what’s happening, and one very gentle encouraging finger to the chin after latch has happened.

This baby is small and quite young. Notice how easily the mother is supporting the baby’s shoulders and neck, and managing to keep the length of the baby’s body snug and secure across her body. This can be an excellent hold for new mothers, but all that’s important is that you and baby are comfortable, and the breastfeeding is working well. As baby gets older, and heavier, Mum and Baby will find different holds that keep them both feeling supported and happy.

The important part of this video is what’s happening at the mouth/nipple exchange. You hear Dr Newman say to wait for the ‘gape’ and then you let baby attach. The point is that quite a lot of breast needs to go into the mouth, for milk to transfer.

Baby having too shallow a latch is a classic way to have sore nipples. If it’s painful – something is wrong!

Incidentally that jaw action you see is one reason breastfeeding contributes so much to the overall development of the baby – that jaw action is working on moving the plates in the baby’s head back into place from the birth canal squish, and is building excellent muscle tone in the jaw and face, helping build up to good chewing and speaking skills.

 

Latch techniques

 The huge value in this tiny breastfeeding video is… stop pressing down and poking on your nipple like that! Getting breast milk out of your breast requires a lot of the breast tissue BEHIND the nipple to be compressed – it’s got nothing to do with the nipple itself, in that sense.

Baby sucking on your nipple, and/or you poking and prodding your nipples and trying to get your gold milk (colostrum) out, may swell up your nipples and prevent the milk coming out at all!

Hand expression will get out milk, and let you get to know your own breasts:

Sometimes, nipples get swollen from IV fluids in labor, or from too much milk coming in very quickly. A swollen nipple will not let down well. A swollen breast with too much milk in it is called ‘engorgement’ and if this happens to you when you transition from gold to white milk, hand express to get some comfort – or put baby on full time and let baby suck it out!

An excellent technique to use if too swollen, is called Reverse Pressure Softening – scroll down to the bottom of this page:

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/m…

Do note that this mother is trickling gold milk (colostrum) and a little trickle like this is all baby needs for the first few days. There is another clip showing white milk being ejected in streams, but so far, we can’t get it past YouTube, for some bizarre reason.

Be patient – your breast milk will come. Good Luck on learning hand expression!

Tandem Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding more than one child at a time can be quite a challenge.  On one hand it is a great way to keep older child connected with their mother and also introduce them to the concept of sharing.

Tandem does not necessarily mean simultaneously nursing more than one child.  Usually it refers to nursing the new born baby first and then the older child.  It may also mean sequential nursing of children from a multiple birth experience.

How to create a supportive breastfeeding environment

Six suggestions for creating a supportive nursing environment

  1. Find a peaceful atmosphere for nursing. Before beginning the feeding, unplug the phone, turn on relaxing music and do deep breathing. (Take four or five deep abdominal breaths.)
  2. If breastfeeding in public makes you uncomfortable, insist on your privacy and/or drape a light cover over your baby and your shoulder.
  3. Interact with friends and breastfeeding professionals who are supportive of breastfeeding. Do not let well-meaning friends and relatives who have different attitudes discourage you.
  4. Restrict visitors until you are comfortable.
  5. Be around other nursing mothers. Attend a postpartum exercise class and/or support group.
  6. Be sure your baby is positioned properly and allow enough suckling time.

The Flipple

Breastfeeding Technique: The Flipple

This breastfeeding technique for getting your nipple into your baby’s mouth is called The Flipple.  It is based on rolling the underside of your breast, but with a twist.  As your baby opens its mouth wide press on your breast just above your your nipple with a finger running parallel to your baby’s upper lip.   This will point your nipple up and away from your baby.

Continue pressing your finger onto your breast to first roll the underside of your breast into your child’s open mouth. Once the breast is in use the same finger to push the nipple into your baby’s mouth before removing your finger.  This will your baby gets a large amount of the underside of the breast and gets the nipple into your child’s mouth.

The Flipple is useful when you may not have a good view of the underside of your breast, but can be useful in any breastfeeding position.

Read About Breastfeeding Supplies:

Five Essential Breastfeeding Items
Breastfeeding Fashion

Read More About Proper Breastfeeding Positions:

Cradle Hold
Breastfeeding While lying Down