Breastfeeding Baby Safely

Breastfeeding is one of the most loving, intimate experiences between mother and child. You are recommended to breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first 6 months of life, and beyond if possible. The position and safety aspects during breastfeeding are important, especially since several cases of infant deaths have occurred during breastfeeding.

Case 1

Two-month old baby choked to death on mother’s milk after breastfeeding. Baby had aspiration pneumonia, which caused her lungs to fill with liquid. As a result, she had difficulty vomiting the excess milk as she was lying on her parents’ bed facing up.

*New Straits Times, June 11th, 2007.

Case 2

A month-old baby was found dead after her mother fell asleep while breastfeeding her at home. The mother awoke in the morning and found her daughter dead with foam around the mouth.

*New Straits Times, March 31st, 2012.

Nursing lying down

The ‘lying down’ position is particularly good for mothers who have had a caesarean or if their bottom is sore after the birth. Also, breastfeeding on demand is easier as mothers can rest or sleep while breastfeeding. Although co-sleeping and nursing lying down can have the possibility of causing your baby to choke or suffocate; if done right, the problems in the above cases will not occur.

Here are a few steps that can help you to successfully breastfeed your baby while lying down.

  • For comfort, place a pillow behind your back or under your head (whichever position is most
    comfortable for you)
    and rest your weight on the pillows so that you don’t strain your hips and lower back.
  • Place your baby on his side facing you with your nipple in line with your baby’s nose. If you are
    breastfeeding from the right breast, you should be lying down on your right side.
  • Using your free hand, guide your breast into your baby’s mouth. Once your baby has taken in
    your breast, you can push your baby’s shoulders in towards you.
  • Avoid flexing your baby’s neck too far back as this will make it difficult for your baby to swallow.
  • Keep your arm underneath your baby’s head or keep your baby’s head on the bed and your arm free, whichever is more comfortable for you.
  • Always allow your baby freedom to move your baby’s so that your baby can unlatch if baby has difficulty breathing for any reason.
  • Once your baby has drained the first breast, roll yourself and your baby over to the other side or just lean over so that your baby can latch on the other breast while in the same breastfeeding position.
  • Burp your baby after feeding. Let your baby sit up or hold your baby to your shoulder and gently rub or pat your baby’s back. Not all babies burp; so if you don’t hear a ‘buurp!’, do not worry.

Note: Some mothers may find it easier to latch their baby on first and then lie down slowly.

Important tips!

  • Always put babies to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Never sleep with your baby on a couch or a confined space.
  • Make sure the bed’s headboard and footboard do not have openings or cut-outs that could trap your baby’s head.
  • Make sure the mattress fits snugly in the bed frame so that your baby does not become trapped.
  • Use minimal amounts of bedding and avoid big fluffy pillows and blankets.
  • Make sure your baby’s head will not be covered by any bedding.
  • Older siblings should not be sharing the bed with a nursing mom and baby as it is more dangerous for your baby.
  • Baby should be placed next to the mother, and not in between mom and dad.
  • If you have very long hair, make sure it is tied up to avoid any accidental strangulation while sleeping.

It is very important that you NEVER take any drugs, alcohol, or other substances that could make you groggy and less responsive to your baby (such as night-time cough medicines or sleeping aids). If you need to, make sure someone else is on hand to care for your baby.

Subscribe to our parenting newsletter.