10 positioning and latching tips for breastfeeding

breastfeeding baby latched onto mom's breast

1.  It’s important that mom is comfortable. For an upright feeding position, use a supportive pillow. Remember to have back support.

2.  Bring baby to you. Don’t hunch over baby as it can cause pain and be detrimental to your neck and back.

3.  Take a deep breath before positioning baby. This helps relax you and baby relaxes, too.

4.  Try to vary nursing positions. It takes practice to get into these positions, but well worth the awkward learning!

  • While you and baby are still learning to breast feed, I like the cross-cradle position.
  • When more confident and no discomfort, you can transition to cradle hold.
  • The football hold is also a good position to try when baby is newborn. As baby grows, discomfort can happen from baby kicking.
  • Try the side lying position. Some moms also like the laid back (also called biological) nursing position.

5.  Bring baby nose-to-nipple so baby can reach up, chin first to breast. This helps relax baby’s jaw and attain an asymmetric latch.

6.  If baby’s latch doesn’t feel right or you have pain lasting more than 10 seconds, detach baby and try again. Don’t compromise good latching. Nipple damage from poor latching takes a while to heal.

7.  Detach baby safely by putting pinky or finger with a shorter nail into side of baby’s mouth and listen for suction to break, then pull baby away from you. Do not pull nipple out of baby’s mouth. It can cause damage along the shaft of the nipple and cause discomfort.

8.  If struggling to get baby to latch for the first time, hold baby skin-to-skin. Babies regulate their heart beats, breathing, blood sugar and metabolism on mom and dad. Mom holding baby skin to skin facilitates latching. You can also get baby into a sucking rhythm on your clean finger and then transfer baby over to breast.

9.  Compare your position with this visual of baby’s position when approaching breast.

mother's view while latching baby

10.  Check these signs of a good latch:

  • Baby’s mouth opens wide.
  • Baby’s lips are curled out (flanged) and cover about 1 to 1.5 inches of area below the nipple. This may be less for a small or premature baby.
  • Baby’s lower lip covers more of the areola than the upper lip.
  • Baby’s chin is pressed into the breast.
  • Baby’s cheeks appear to be full and rounded (not dimpling in).
  • Baby’s mouth does not slip off the breast.
  • Baby is supported in chest-to-chest position and baby’s neck is not turned.
  • Mom feels a tugging sensation without pain.
  • Baby shows signs of sucking and swallowing breast milk.

– Dennette Fend, RNc, WHNP, IBCLC, runs the Beaumont Breastfeeding Services in Rochester Hills. To learn more about the clinic and how to make an appointment, view this flyer.

Breastfeeding or pumping while traveling

MIAmamas nursing pod for breastfeeding mothers

image credit: Miami International Airport

Traveling with children is always an “experience” and it seems the younger the child, the more stuff you bring. Being a family that loves to travel, we didn’t slow down after the birth our first child. Our son was 3 months old when we took our first road trip, 4 months when he took his first domestic flight, and 6 months old when he traveled internationally. When we had our second child, we continued to travel. To date, our 3-year-old son has been on 18 flights; our 1-year-old daughter has been on 12 flights. I’m not saying it’s been easy, but we created fun memories.

Traveling with babies in the airport

gate check bags First, I recommend getting gate check bags for your car seat and stroller. The airlines always do a number on these items! Even though these items are usually gate-checked, the gate check bag lessens the chance the item will get damaged or dirty. I find it helpful to label my own for easy identification.

If your little one is under two, I suggest putting him in a carrier and using your stroller for older children or all that extra stuff that you are packing. The benefit of putting your little one in a carrier is multileveled. First, it keeps him content and in one place. Second, it frees up your hands, especially if you need to give the airline attendant your boarding pass. Finally, if your little one gets fussy it provides an inconspicuous means to nurse on demand.

A few other pieces of helpful advice:

  • Give yourself extra time to go through security. Seriously, add 30 minutes to your pre-flight plan because with stroller, children, and transporting breastmilk or baby items, it takes longer than the average person. I will talk about this in more detail later.
  • Just like the pilots, have a preflight checklist: Diaper change, pack stroller into gate check bag and leave at gate, have boarding passes ready, be first in line.
  • When traveling with children, you’re allowed to board the plane first, even before the first class or priority members. When they make the first announcement that they are boarding people with “special needs” that means you. I always take advantage of this because I get prime overhead storage space for the diaper bag, not to mention getting to unstrap that baby you’ve been carrying on your chest for the past 2+ hours!
  • Check the breastfeeding laws for your destination. As of the end of July 2018, every state has laws on the books to protect a nursing mother’s right to breastfeed in public. I still recommend doing some research ahead of time, especially if you’re traveling internationally.

Nursing and pumping in the airport

As I mentioned earlier, I find it easiest to nurse in the airport while the baby is in a carrier. If that isn’t your style, plan to give yourself extra time to have a quick nursing session before boarding. As for nursing/pumping rooms in airports, they are a hit or miss. Currently there are 28 domestic airports that use Mom Aboard private accommodations for nursing or pumping mothers. Here is a site to check for a list of airports with maps of the unit locations. Bonus: airports that do have these units usually have one per wing of the airport. Some airports have adopted permanent rooms in their facility. The easiest way to find these in any airport is to pick up the white courtesy phone and ask. Sometimes airports refer to these as “family rooms” and other times they will send you to a family restroom. Slowly but surely, they are catching on that pumping in the bathroom is not acceptable or hygienic.

Here are a few tips if you plan to pump and travel:

  • Bring a small insulated cooler and a frozen ice pack for easy storage. This allows you to transport breastmilk to your destination ready for the fridge or freezer within a 24-hour window.
  • Bring pre-sterilized, sealable bags that are specially designed for storing breast milk.
  • Keep in mind that if you are transporting breastmilk from the freezer in your cooler, it must be consumed within 24 hours for safety purposes. It cannot be refrozen.

Nursing on the plane

Breastfeeding on the plane can be intimidating the first time. If you’re unsure about coverage methods, I suggest that you read my previous article, Breastfeeding in public: Feeling comfortable and knowing your rights. If you’re traveling with your partner, you can take the window seat and give your partner the middle seat as this creates more privacy during nursing. I loved nursing during plane rides; if my children were fussy, I breastfed to calm them down. Swallowing repeatedly while nursing helped their ears adjust to the pressure of the altitude. Bonus: My little ones usually fell asleep during the nursing session.

Transporting baby supplies and breastmilk

Many people don’t know that food to be consumed by children is exempt from the TSA liquid rules in proportion to needs and duration of travel. For example, if you are going on a 12-hour flight, you could bring a gallon of milk if that’s what your family needs. So pack those bottles and pouches without worry! Again, give your family extra time to get through TSA and know they are going to screen all your liquids/pouches/yogurts with more care.

Breastmilk is an exception to the liquid rule with or without children present. If you are traveling without baby, notify TSA as you’re going through security that you’re carrying breastmilk with you. Make sure it is in its own bag/cooler because it must be kept separate from your other items. It does not have to be a certain number of ounces per bottle, but all the bottles (or bags) will be tested by TSA. They open the bottles and wave a special strip over them, as well as rub a strip around the outside. I’ve had this done countless times and TSA was quite accommodating and never spilled my liquid gold. I usually ask that they put down paper towel so my baby’s bottle doesn’t touch their counter. Feel free to check out the TSA website for more info.

Traveling with children isn’t effortless but it is rewarding. Creating memories and building a healthy world view are some of the best experiences I can give my children. There is no need to feel intimidated by the age of your little one. In fact, I find it easiest to travel with an infant. All they need are clean behinds and breastmilk. Pack those bags and bon voyage.

– Sephanie Celaya de la Torre, MSW, is a Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer and past program participant.

Breastfeeding in public: Feeling comfortable and knowing your rights

mom learning how to breastfeed

UNICEF Ukraine from Kyiv, Ukraine. Wikimedia Commons. CC license.

One of the most important things with breastfeeding is feeling confident and comfortable especially if you’re going to do it in a public place. In this article I will discuss tools and techniques that can empower you to feel comfortable and confident no matter where you go and the laws that surround breastfeeding.

As I enter my third pregnancy, I think it’s a great time to share bits of wisdom that I’ve learned along the way. One of the most important elements I discovered is that fed children are happy children. And if you’re planning to breastfeed those babies in public, it’s essential that you feel comfortable. There are three tips to help you with comfortable, discreet feeding.

  1. Find a comfy seat, ideally something with back support.
  2. Try to have a something to drink so you can stay hydrated (and keep your supply up).
  3. Implement your chosen coverage method.

Coverage methods

  • Use a nursing cover. This is often the easiest method to build confidence while being as discrete as possible. The only downside is if it’s hot or baby doesn’t want his head covered. strap for nursing tank
  • The double shirt method (my personal favorite). Get a fitted nude, black or white tank. Cut the straps and make a small loop on the front of each side of the tank (see image), then resew the straps on in the new position. That way you can slip the loops over your nursing bra and wear any shirt on top. This provides added discretion no matter where you are.
  • A nursing top or nursing dress. These are specifically made for nursing and being discrete. The top or dress usually has slits or layers that move to allow the breast to be uncovered. The downside to this method is the price; I would say they are well worth the investment, especially if you are planning to have more than one child.
  • Loose fitting clothing or a button-front top. Loose clothing can be lifted to one side and still cover your stomach and chest. A button-front shirt works great too because it allows easy access. Depending on your baby and preference, you can unbutton from the top or bottom. This is the simplest method. If you feel too exposed, you could always wear your prenatal belly band (you know, the one you wore over your pants when they didn’t button anymore) to provide coverage over your stomach.

Also, you can nurse while baby is in a sling or carrier. This gives you mobility and free hands which can be nice on the go. I would recommend the double shirt, loose top, or button-front for this so you don’t feel overexposed. When done right, this is incredibly discreet and you can breastfeed at the park, airport or just about anywhere.

Know your rights

Being an active family that loves to travel, I’ve done my fair share of breastfeeding in public places. It wasn’t until my second child that I was confronted about breastfeeding in public. I felt—as any woman would feel—scared, embarrassed and uncomfortable to be harassed in public for doing something so natural. Knowing what to say and keeping calm can help in this unfortunate situation.

In 2014, Governor Snyder signed the Anti-Discrimination Act, which allows nursing mothers to breastfeed openly in any public place. This includes parks, restaurants, stores, churches, busses, and just about anywhere you can go. Michigan is not the only state with this legislation; all 50 states have similar legislation on the books. Furthermore, breastfeeding is exempt from public indecency laws. The law is on your side. In fact, you could take legal action. The Anti-Discrimination Act gives discriminated mothers the right to file a civil suit and claim up to $200 for damages related to the discrimination in addition to full reimbursement for legal costs incurred from filing.

You need to be prepared for dirty looks or comments. I find a smile is my best tool. If you’re nervous to go out in public, it may help to have a response ready. If you’re in an establishment, you can always ask for a manager to address the harasser. If the management is uninformed and uneducated, you can also ask them to call the local authorities to inform them.

I nursed my first child for a year-and-a-half in Canada, Mexico and coast-to-coast in the United States, and never had an incident of someone confronting me while nursing in public. In fact, the opposite happened. People came up to me everywhere I went (e.g., restaurants, festivals, airports, churches) and told me I was doing a great job nursing in public. I cannot tell you how uplifting this was, especially to a new mother.

Breastfeeding encourages women to engage in child-rearing methods that support healthy attachment and development. Public shaming, humiliation and non-acceptance of breastfeeding in public is unacceptable and illegal. If you see a mother being harassed for feeding her child, you should speak up. Parenting is hard and there is never a bad time for encouragement or to feel a village behind you.

– Stephanie Celaya de la Torre, MSW, is a Beaumont Parenting Program volunteer and past program participant.

Breastfeeding Lifestyle class

mom nursing baby in mother's room

U.S. Air Force photo, Airman 1st Class Haley A. Stevens.

As you prepare for your baby’s birth, you may find yourself thinking about what life will be like after baby is here. Mothers who are planning to breastfeed may be concerned about continuing breastfeeding while going back to work, school, or returning to “life.” Beaumont’s Prenatal and Family Education department has the perfect class to answer some of these questions and concerns: Breastfeeding Lifestyle.

This one-time class is taught by a Beaumont nurse educator and welcomes expectant or new moms. There is no wrong time to take this class. Some expectant families want to make sure they gain all the knowledge they need before the new baby’s arrival. Other families may want to gain knowledge when they need it.

There are benefits to taking this class after your new baby has arrived though. In the beginning of your breastfeeding experience, you focus on getting started and making sure baby is getting what he or she needs nutritionally. After a few weeks, you may discover that breastfeeding has gotten easier and you may start thinking about “life” and your “new normal” with your baby.

Regardless of when you take the class, we encourage your support person to attend as well. Your support person may have his or her own questions about breastfeeding an infant.

Topics discussed in this class include:

  • Adjustments you will make as a breastfeeding parent
  • Learning to use a breast pump
  • How to store your breastmilk
  • Going back to work or school
  • Baby’s growth spurts and your milk supply
  • Teething

Enroll in a breastfeeding class today.

– Maribeth Baker, RN HBCE LCCE, is a program coordinator with the Beaumont Community Health and Prenatal and Family Education department.

Beaumont’s Preparing for Breastfeeding class

mom breastfeeding baby

Cropped image. Marc van der Chijs, Flickr. CC license.

Congratulations! Becoming a new parent can be very exciting. Many expectant families ponder the question, “How should I prepare for my baby?” As a nurse and childbirth educator, I say that one of the most important ways a family can prepare for a new baby is to educate themselves with evidence-based information.

Many of us turn to technology to answer these questions, but unfortunately it is very hard to distinguish evidence-based, accurate information. For your convenience, Beaumont’s Prenatal and Family Education Department offers classes and educational materials to get you prepared for your new baby with confidence. Research found that families who take education classes before the birth of their baby felt more confident with their base knowledge when taking their newborns home.

One important decision expectant families will make is about breastfeeding. This question can lead to a cascade of questions and the best way to get answers is to take a Preparing for Breastfeeding class. Led by a Beaumont nurse educator, this one-time, three-hour class will discuss topics like:

  • What are the benefits for mom and baby?
  • How does a mother’s body make breastmilk?
  • How do I get the best start to breastfeeding?
  • How do I position myself and my baby to breastfeed?
  • What is all this talk about getting a “good” or “correct” latch?
  • How can my partner be part of the breastfeeding experience?
  • How do I know I am doing this right?
  • How do we know our baby is getting what they need?
  • How do we know when to ask for help?
  • What can we expect with breastfeeding in the first few weeks after my baby’s birth?

The “Understanding Breastfeeding Book” you receive in class will give you access to app-based information to help you through your experience. This can be used to help navigate the early days home with your new baby.

Enroll in a breastfeeding class today. This class is also available as an independent study.

– Maribeth Baker, RN HBCE LCCE, is a program coordinator with the Beaumont Community Health and Prenatal and Family Education department.

You’ll Never Be Prepared To Become A Parent


No matter how “prepared” I thought I was to be a parent, I wasn’t. I became a mom at 35, so I watched friends and family have kids. Before my kids came into my life, I would say to myself, “When I’m a parent, I’m going to do [fill in the blank].”

Oh, honey. No, you’re not.

Being a parent is the single hardest thing I’ll do in my life. The fact that my kids are twins adds a whole new dimension. But there are a few things I wish I had known or thoroughly understood before holding my two little bundles of joy.

There will come a time when bodily fluids won’t gross you out. My little girl had reflux, so being covered in spit up regularly was par for the course. Remember that show, “You Can’t Do That on Television”? The one where everyone got slimed? Yeah, that was our house. Also, we have a boy. Catching pee so it didn’t hit the TV remote or the leather couch became the norm as well. Note: Spit up and pee aren’t even the grossest things that can happen in a day.

You will mourn your old life and that’s okay. It wasn’t easy for me to adjust to the life of a mom with twins. I thought I’d be able to do all the things I usually do, just with two babies in tow. That doesn’t work out at the beginning; or right now, actually. With feeding schedules and naps, the winter cold and sicknesses, my personal life changed drastically. But even though it’s not the same, it’s better now. It took me a while to get there, but here I am. Late, as moms of twins tend to be.

You do not know the meaning of the phrase, “sleep deprivation.” You don’t. Just accept that. At first my kids fed every two hours. They took 30 minutes to eat and 30 minutes to sit up and digest. An hour later we were back at it. We still get woken up at night, but nothing a re-tucking of the covers won’t fix. I am assured that one day, I will wake up AFTER the sun has risen. One day.

Hot food is a luxury. I think I’m just used to eating lukewarm or cold food now. By the time dinner is ready and you get everyone in their seats with bibs and cups, cut up their food, serve your own, get whatever they dropped on the floor, sit down and get back up to get something else, your food is cold. When you get the chance to eat hot food, take it.

You will be surprised that you are capable of feeling so intensely. It might not come right away, but soon enough, you’ll be so in love with your kids that you can’t imagine anything you wouldn’t do for them—including not flinching when someone hands you a half-chewed olive at the dinner table during your mother-in-law’s birthday party.

—Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples

8 Myths and Facts about Postpartum Depression

Myth #1: Postpartum depression is a normal part of motherhood. All new mothers experience exhaustion and mood swings.

Fact: It is important to be aware of the three types of mood changes associated with childbirth. While it is true that new mothers are likely to feel overwhelmed and sleep deprived in the early weeks after having a baby, this is most likely the Baby Blues which is experienced by 70-80% of women. The Baby Blues is not considered a disorder and generally does not require treatment. Symptoms such as tearfulness, mood swings, lack of concentration, mild anxiety and irritability, begin within the first week postpartum and can persist until baby is about 3 weeks old. This is caused by the major lifestyle change and changing hormone levels that are present during this time in a woman’s life.

We become concerned that a mother may be experiencing more than the Baby Blues, when symptoms are still present after that third to fourth week postpartum. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious, yet common medical condition (occurs in 10-20 percent or 1 in 7 new mothers) and can occur any time in a mother’s first postpartum year. Symptoms typically include uncontrollable crying, irritability, poor concentration, anxiety, hopelessness, feelings of failure, guilt, intrusive and disturbing thoughts, and appetite and sleep disturbances. PPD is very treatable. The sooner it is identified that a mother is not feeling like herself and she reaches out for help, the sooner she can start recovering and be able to enjoy her baby and motherhood.

A very small percentage of women experience a much more serious mood disorder called postpartum psychosis, which can cause women to hear, see, feel or smell things that are not there. Symptoms may also include paranoia, mania or catatonic states. This rare illness affects one in every thousand women, usually occurring within the first three weeks after birth. Postpartum psychosis is a serious emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Myth #2: If a woman is able to take care of her baby, keep a tidy home, looks happy and appears as if she has it all together, she is not experiencing postpartum depression.

Fact: Women are very good at masking the signs and symptoms of PPD, some will go to great efforts to appear as if they are well, but on the inside they may be falling apart and dealing with much anxiety and worry. Shame, guilt or fear may cause women to hide their feelings and suffer in silence.

Myth #3: Pregnant women do not get depressed.

Fact: Studies have shown that rates of depression and anxiety actually increase during pregnancy. Many women who seek treatment for postpartum depression report that their symptoms actually began while they were pregnant.

Myth #4: Postpartum depression is only treated with medication.

Fact: While many women find that medication is very helpful, there are many options for treating PPD, including, individual therapy, support groups, exercise, biofeedback, acupuncture and herbal supplements. Most women are treated with a combination of these treatment options.

Myth #5: Women can’t be treated with antidepressants if they are breastfeeding.

Fact: There are medications that can be taken for depression that are safe for breastfeeding moms. Women should be sure talk with their physician about their options for treatment.

Myth #6: My life is great! PPD could never happen to me.

Fact: PPD does not discriminate. It can happen to those who have never experienced depression or anxiety in their lives. It does not discriminate against race, age, gender, class or income.

Myth #7: Only mothers experience postpartum depression.

Fact: Dads can also experience PPD. Studies have shown that 1 in 10 Dads will experience postpartum depression.

Myth #8: Sharing your personal experience with postpartum depression with pregnant women will only scare them and should be avoided.

Fact: When women have information and resources before symptoms occur, they are less likely to get to the point of a crisis. When a woman is able to hear about signs and symptoms of PPD while she is emotionally well, she will better be able to identify what she is experiencing should symptoms occur, and will be more likely to reach out for treatment and support. It is imperative that women share their stories to dispel these myths and the stigma that is unjustly attached to PPD and other types of mental illness.

Beaumont has many resources, including free support groups, to assist families who are experiencing postpartum depression or difficulty with their postpartum adjustment. You may also reach the Parenting Program staff Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 248-898-3230.

After-hours support from a Mother/Baby Care nurse is available at:

Royal Oak            248-898-6396

Troy                    248-964-3995

Grosse Pointe       313-473-1705

–Kelly C. Ryan, LMSW, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator, Beaumont Parenting Program