It has been firmly established that breast milk is far better for a baby than formula. It provides for all the nutritional needs of a growing infant while giving their immune system the head start it needs to protect and defend the body against illness and disease.

Unfortunately, breastfeeding does not come so easily for every new mother. Problems with milk production, the quality of the milk and the baby latching on correctly in order to receive sufficient milk are all common problems that moms face. If you are facing any of these or other problems with breastfeeding, you are not alone. These expert tips from a New Jersey lactation consultant can help you get the hang of breastfeeding quickly and ensure that the baby is getting the necessary nutrition.

1. Correct Latching

Infants do not suck in the same way that older people do. The nipple extends to the back of the mouth where the tongue and throat provide the sucking motion to draw milk out of the breast. The lips create a seal around the areola which is the pigmented area surrounding the nipple to aid create suction. It is therefore important to ensure that the entire nipple is in the baby’s mouth and that the lips are sealed around the areola to ensure sufficient suction and correct latching.

Problems like inverted nipples or smaller nipples can cause additional problems with latching and therefore breastfeeding. If you are struggling or concerned that the baby is not latching properly, make an appointment to see a lactation consultant as soon as possible.

2. The “Let Down Reflex”

The “let down reflex” occurs when the milk in the breast is ready to be released from the nipple. A suckling baby stimulates this reflex and can result in milk dripping from both breasts. The sound of a baby crying or when a baby’s regular feeding time comes around can also stimulate this reflex. It is important to recognize the reflex as it stimulates the release of prolactin which encourages milk production. It also releases oxytocin which has a calming, tranquil and nurturing effect for both mom and baby encouraging bonding.

3. Kneading

Ever watched kittens and puppies kneading at their moms while feeding? This kneading stimulates milk flow from the nipples. Your baby may knead your breasts while feeding. If the aren’t, you can gently knead or massage your breast to optimize milk flow. However, be aware that if the baby starts gurgling or choking, the milk flow may be more than sufficient and kneading may not be necessary.

There are many other reasons why breastfeeding can be challenging for new moms and it is always recommended to visit a New Jersey lactation consultant for the best advice.