The Keys to Successful Breastfeeding

Julie · December 27, 2022
This article has been written and endorsed by the nurse Miriam Barriga Sánchez
Breastfeeding is the most natural way for mothers to feed their little ones. What's more, it presents multiple benefits for both mother and baby. Discover the keys to successful breastfeeding in today's article.

Breastfeeding is the most natural way for mothers to feed their babies. And the benefits are countless for both mother and child. But many mothers find it to be a complicated challenge. That’s why we’ve put together this collection of the keys for successful breastfeeding.

The benefits of breastfeeding

Maternal breastfeeding isn’t just extremely beneficial for babies. It also offers benefits to the mothers who breastfeed. Among the long list, we can find the following:

  • Reduces the risk of postpartum hemorrhage, as it aids in the process of uterine involution.
  • Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of postpartum anemia because of the reduction in blood loss.
  • Breastfeeding allows women to go back to their pre-pregnancy weight faster.
  • It contributes to the bond between mother and child.
  • In mothers who breastfeed, the incidence of postpartum depression is lower.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer.
  • A mother’s breast milk is available at any time, anywhere and doesn’t require any economic investment.

Multiple scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of breastfeeding for babies as well. Some of those include:

  • Breastmilk digests easily and quickly.
  • Consuming breastmilk reduces a baby’s risk of suffering allergies.
  • A mother’s milk provides optimal amounts of nutrients, living cells, digestive enzymes, growth factors, immunoglobins, and lymphocytes.
  • Breastfeeding babies are at a lower risk of suffering from SIDS.
  • Studies have also shown that breastfeeding babies are at a lower risk for suffering a number of illnesses as adults. This includes diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and other cardiovascular illnesses.
  • Breastmilk improves a baby’s immune response in the face of vaccines.
  • A mother’s diet adapts to the nutritional needs of her baby at any given moment.
  • It calms babies and comforts them at any time and anywhere.
A mother with her newborn.

When to start breastfeeding your baby

The first key to successful breastfeeding is to initiate it as soon as possible. Ideally, mothers should get the opportunity to breastfeed their babies for the first time in the delivery room. What’s more, skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their babies contributes to the implementation of breastfeeding.

Whether you give birth at a hospital, a birthing center, or at home, your nurse or doula can answer your questions and help make breastfeeding a success.

The right position for successful breastfeeding

  • Especially during the first days, find a spot in your home where you feel calm and comfortable. Avoid noises and stimuli that can distract you or your little one. Once breastfeeding is established, you’ll be able to manage any location and situation.
  • Find a position that allows you to relax – pay special attention to your shoulders and back. 
  • Bring your baby up to your chest, rather than lowering your chest towards your baby. If you maintain a forced position during feedings, you’ll run the risk of shifting your breast or your baby every time you move… and this can affect your child’s latch.
  • If you use a breastfeeding pillow, make sure to keep it close to your body. Place your baby on top of the pillow and in line with your breasts. This will allow your newborn to rest comfortably while giving you more freedom to move.

Your baby’s positioning during feedings is also very important:

  • Your baby’s body should be aligned in front of you.
  • As a reference, your baby’s belly should be facing your chest, turned completely towards you.
  • Before your baby latches onto your breast, you can use his or her nose for reference. Ideally, the nose should be right in front of your nipple so your baby has to slightly lift his or her nose before latching.
  • It’s very important to leave your baby’s head free while nursing so that he or she can release your nipple spontaneously.
  • There’s a great number of breastfeeding positions to choose from. You can cradle your baby in your arms… You can lay down on the bed together, etc. Any of these positions is good as long as both you and your little one are comfortable. And of course, you want to make sure that your breastfeeding position doesn’t negatively affect your baby’s latch.

What should a baby’s mouth look like while nursing?

While nursing, your baby’s mouth should be wide open, latching onto both the nipple and the aureola. This is an incredibly important factor in successful breastfeeding. On the contrary, if babies only suckle the nipple, this can produce cracking and chapping, making feedings a painful moment for mothers.

Furthermore, your baby’s cheeks should be swollen. You should be able to observe your little one’s jaw movements as he or she suckles. In fact, you may even be able to hear him or her swallowing.

When babies are finished nursing, they’ll spontaneously release the breast and, in general, fall fast asleep. This is an indication of a satisfactory feeding. You can offer your little one your other breast as well, although he or she probably won’t drink as much from this one. Therefore, make sure you alternate breasts with each feeding.

Remember that breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful. If you’re experiencing pain, consult a breastfeeding specialist who can evaluate how your baby’s latching on.

The importance of being assertive during the postpartum period.

The keys to successful breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding is something that should occur on demandIn other words, it’s the baby who should decide when to nurse.
  • Feedings don’t have a pre-determined duration. Each baby nurses at his or her own pace, and this will vary as he or she grows.
  • Nighttime feedings are very important when it comes to maintaining lactation. One of the hormones that intervene in the production of milk (prolactin) secretes in larger amounts at night. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to forego these feedings.
  • It’s very important to make sure that your baby’s latch and suction are effective. We recommend checking with a specialist who can evaluate your situation.
  • Once again, remember that successful breastfeeding doesn’t hurt. If you’re in pain, talk with a breastfeeding consultant.
  • Don’t compare your experience with those of other women… In fact, don’t even compare your current baby with previous siblings. Each baby is different, and so nursing will be different for each one.

We’re sure that these recommendations will help you achieve successful breastfeeding. But, if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to reach out to a specialist for advice.

  • Asociación Española de Pediatría. (2008). Manual de Lactancia Materna. De la teoría a la práctica. 1ª Ed. Madrid: Médica Panamericana.
  • Grupo de trabajo de la Guía de Práctica Clínica sobre lactancia materna. (2017). Guía de Práctica Clínica sobre lactancia materna. Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad; Agencia de Evaluación de Tecnologías Sanitarias del País Vasco-OSTEBA. Guías de Práctica Clínica en el SNS.