How to Get Your Baby To Do a Proper Breastfeeding Latch

    How to Get Your Baby To Do a Proper Breastfeeding Latch

    Many people think breastfeeding is all about milk production. While this can be true for the most part, some tend to forget the importance of getting a proper latch in successful breastfeeding. But the thing is, not all mothers can get the hang of breastfeeding on their first attempt. How do you get your baby to do a proper breastfeeding latch? It takes patience and the right knowledge to put it into practice. Here is a guide for you to follow that can help you through the process.

    Understanding the Importance of the Latch

    Before any baby can receive nutrients from mother’s milk, they have to perform a proper breastfeeding latch first.

    Latching on is the process by which your infant’s mouth clings to your breast to feed. Many people believe that this step comes easily, but in actuality, it is a skill that you and your infant must acquire together.

    Getting this attachment right is vital as it helps prevent discomfort and cracked nipples. It also allows the child to obtain the right amount of milk they need. When you are in a relaxed and comfortable state, your baby can easily feed completely from each breast. This then allows them to obtain the fattier milk from you.

    How to Perform a Proper Breastfeeding Latch

    The following steps can help you and your baby get that right connection to ensure a good and fit latch.

    Preparation

    • Before anything else, get into a comfortable position by sitting in a chair with good back support. It may also be helpful to find a stool that you could rest your feet on. This maintains proper posture and avoids putting stress on the neck and shoulders while breastfeeding.
    • You may also utilize a breastfeeding support cushion if you have one. A nursing pillow can make a big difference in getting the baby in the right position to latch on effectively.

    Positioning

    • Make sure your infant is always tummy-to-tummy with you. Also, do make sure to carry the infant to you rather than trying to lean towards the baby. Doing so can not only put pressure on your neck and shoulders, but it might also impair the baby’s position.
    • Continue to put your baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip aligned to make swallowing simpler.
    • The baby’s nose should be on the other side of the breast.

    Getting a Proper Breastfeeding Latch

    • You may need to guide the nipple to your baby’s mouth by holding your breast into a so-called “nipple sandwich.” Using a “C” or “U” hold, grab the breast on the sides. Keep your fingers away from the nipple so you do not interfere with how the baby latches on.
    • Aim the nipple toward the baby’s top lip or nose rather than the center of the mouth. To get your infant to open the mouth, you may need to stroke the nipple area across their top lip.
    • Slightly incline back your infant’s head to prevent the chin from resting on their own chest.
    • The baby should latch on to the nipple when opening the mouth wide, chin down, and tongue down. Do not try to push the nipple in and wriggle the mouth wider if they do not open wide. It is better to take a step back, tickle the lip with the nipple again, and wait for a wide-open mouth.
    • Make an effort to get as much of the bottom section of the areola (the area around the nipple) into the baby’s mouth as possible.
    • The lower area of your breast should be indented by the baby’s chin.
    • Examine both the baby’s bottom and top lips to see if they are flanged out like fish lips. If not, use your finger to gently pull the bottom one out and open up the upper one even more.

    Signs of a Proper Breastfeeding Latch

    There are several signs which can tell you if you have a proper breastfeeding latch or not.

    • A proper breastfeeding latch should not be an uncomfortable experience for the mother.
    • Your baby’s chest and stomach are lying on your body, with the head straight and not turned to the side.
    • Baby’s chin rests on your breast.
    • Not just the lips, but the baby’s mouth expands wide around your breast.
    • Baby’s lips are in a protruding manner.
    • The baby’s tongue is cupped beneath your breast.
    • You either hear or see your baby swallowing.
    • You may also see your baby’s ears move slightly as they suckle.

    Babies slow down near the end of a feed. Your breasts may feel softer, and your baby’s hands and shoulders may be more relaxed. If you observe these things, then it confirms your child is breastfeeding successfully thanks to a proper breastfeeding latch.

    Key Takeaways

    It is one thing to give birth, and yet another achievement to be able to master the art of breastfeeding. There may be some times wherein you do not get it right, but know that this is normal. You can try and try again until you both get the hang of it. Keep on practicing and supporting your baby in the process to get that good latch.

    Learn more about Breastfeeding here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Breastfeeding FAQs: Getting Your Baby to Latch, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/latch.html, Accessed December 6, 2021

    Breastfeeding Latch, https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-latch/, Accessed December 6, 2021

    Ensuring Proper Latch On, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Ensuring-Proper-Latch-On.aspx, Accessed December 6, 2021

    Getting a good latch, https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/learning-breastfeed/getting-good-latch, Accessed December 6, 2021

    How to breastfeed, https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/feeding-your-baby/breastfeeding/how-to-breastfeed/latching-on/, Accessed December 6, 2021

    Steps and Signs of a Good Latch, https://wicbreastfeeding.fns.usda.gov/steps-and-signs-good-latch, Accessed December 6, 2021

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    Written by Fiel Tugade Updated Jun 21
    Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD