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Should you breastfeed your baby in a lying down position?

If you are one of those mothers who prefers lying down while breastfeeding, then read this.

Pregnancy and labour are very tiring and both leave the mother with little or no strength to put up with the demands of the newborn. Nursing the baby sitting for long hours after the delivery makes her wearier and groggier. This is why most mothers prefer to feed their baby in the lying down position for sheer convenience. This position definitely promises more back support and relieves one from the strains of sitting for long hours while breastfeeding. Read to know how to start breastfeeding your child after a c-section.

But the question is, does this help the baby the same way as it does the mother? Most mothers say that they are comfortable with this position and so are their babies. However, when I spoke to Dr Beena Jeysingh, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Motherhood Hospitals, Bengaluru to know if it is okay to feed the baby in a lying down position, here is what she had to say: A lying down position is the most preferred position for mothers who have undergone a c-section. Since she is not able to sit upright and feed her baby, lying in bed and placing the baby at one of her sides help her to get started with breastfeeding. However, this position is suggested only till the time the mother is not able to sit straight and hold her baby. A day or two after the surgery, we encourage mothers to sit upright and feed to ensures lesser chances of milk being absorbed into the lungs. Chance of milk being absorbed in the lungs due to aspiration is quite high in babies who are breastfed in a lying down position. This could be fatal for infants. So, breastfeeding in the lying down position is not encouraged much. This position is suggested to mothers who undergo c-section only for the first 24 hours after the surgery.

However, Dr Jeysingh is not the only doctor who believes in avoiding a lying down position for breastfeeding. During my second c-section when I started breastfeeding my child in the lying down position I was advised by the visiting paediatrician to sit and breastfeed. The reasons cited were:

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  1. Colic; where babies take in air along with milk which can lead to stomach ache and trigger an incessant crying bout. read here is what you should do to help your child suffering from colic.
  2. Ear infection if the milk spills from the mouth and reaches the ear canal.
  3. Accidental death if the mother topples over the baby in sleep.

So if you are planning to breastfeed your baby in the lying down position, weigh the pros and cons before you act. Talk to your doctor or an antenatal expert to know the right position in which you should feed your baby. If a backache or other postpartum pain is stopping you from feeding your baby in a sitting position, then with the help of a lactation expert, try to work out a comfortable position for breastfeeding that is safe for both you and your baby.

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