Many first-time mothers need help to latch their babies to the breast. This help often comes from relatives who have experience in breastfeeding. And that’s great! Because all experienced mothers know that proper latching is the key to successful breastfeeding.
Getting a good breastfeeding latch can take some practice. There are many breastfeeding positions you can use. And once you get a good latch, breastfeeding is comfortable and enjoyable.
How to get a good breastfeeding latch
- Be comfortable.
Sit straight with a good back support and relax your neck.
Get some privacy so you can focus on your baby.
- Choose the position
- Support your baby.
Use pillows to support the weight of your baby.
Support neck of your baby from one hand.
Keep baby’s neck straight – it should not be rotated.
- Support your breast.
- Bring your baby close to breast.
Avoid leaning forward to your baby.
- Let the baby open mouth.
- Latch when your baby’s mouth is fully open.
Whole nipple and most part of areola (dark skin around nipple) should be in your baby’s mouth.
- Check if your baby is well-latched.
Mouth of a well-latched baby is wide open and baby’s lower lip is everted (turned out).
Chin of the baby touches your breast.
Baby sucks slowly and you can hear the swallowing sounds.
Baby will pause in between sucks for breathing.
How to release the latch of a breastfeeding baby
Avoid forcefully detaching the baby from the breast – it can cause sore nipples. Your baby will release the breast once satisfied. But if you need to release the latch early, break the suction of your baby by inserting a finger gently from the corner of the baby’s mouth.
How to correct a shallow breastfeeding latch
- Feeding from a bottle causes shallow breastfeeding latch in a full-term healthy baby. Baby forgets sucking on breasts – called as nipple confusion. Avoid feeding from a bottle.
- Preterm or sick babies admitted in hospital for a while can also forget normal breastfeeding. We use lactation aid (tube assisted breastfeeding) with mother’s expressed breast milk to help them learn breastfeeding.
- Baby should be well-latched when breastfeeding:
- Release the shallow latch of your baby by inserting a finger from corner of mouth.
- Watch for hunger signs of your baby (Learn How).
- Gently stroke upper lip of the baby with breast nipple.
- Wait for the baby to open wide mouth.
- Once baby’s mouth is fully open, insert your nipple and most areola in the baby’s mouth.
- Check again if your baby is well-latched.
A well-latched baby sleeps happily after breastfeeding and is not irritable. Your baby should urinate 6-10 times every day and gain weight – baby’s doctor checks weight on every visit.
A good breastfeeding latch will boost your milk supply so you can breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. Get help from experienced mothers or lactation counselors to latch your baby. Post your questions or suggestions in the comment section below or contact us. Happy breastfeeding!