The occurrence of cracks does not depend, therefore, on the number and duration of feedings as is commonly believed (hence the “unjustified” rule of nursing for five minutes on each side for the first few days after birth), but on finding a good positioning for the baby at the breast, right from the start. The criteria for ensuring the correctness and goodness of a feed are listed below.

Criteria for proper nursing:

  • The mother’s position should be comfortable and relaxed, to avoid fatigue and muscle contractures and encourage the baby to latch on properly.
  • If needed, the breast should be supported with the hand in position C (thumb above and the rest of the fingers under the corresponding breast), trying to avoid the classic scissor position with the nipple between forefinger and middle finger with the risk of preventing milk flow output due to the pressure on the lactiferous sinuses.
  • The baby’s body lying longitudinally and facing the mother, once in contact with her, must be positioned with the nose in the direction of the nipple.
  • The baby’s mouth should be wide open in such a way that a good part of the areola is visible above the upper lip, but not under the lower one, so that the lactiferous sinuses are well squeezed by the movement of the tongue.
  • The baby’s chin must adhere to the breast.
  • The lower lip must be everted (turned down towards the outside).
  • During feeding the baby’s cheeks should not appear hollow, a sign that the baby is not extracting the milk but only sucking the nipple.
  • The pumping rhythm must be smooth, slow and deep, with an (audible) swallowing per second and a suction/swallowing relationship that goes from 5: 1 to 1: 1 as the milk ejection increases.

When the baby is finished sucking, it unlatches from the breast by itself. Reducing the duration of nursing does not protect the nipple from skin damage; instead, it prevents the baby from getting the part of milk with the richest fat content produced at the end of the feed. The breast should also not be cleansed with special cleansers, before or after feeding. Cleansing for the breast should be limited to the same daily care for the whole body (bath or shower with mild soap once a day) to avoid eliminating the natural protection of the nipple provided by the secretion of the sebaceous Montgomery Glands, precisely localized around the areola and to prevent disorienting the baby’s  olfactory senses.