Breastfeeding comes naturally for many new moms. But, it can also prove difficult at times. Here’s how to get a good breastfeeding latch to make feeding your baby easier right from the get-go.
Nursing your baby will be more relaxed if he has a good breastfeeding latch right from the get-go. Getting him to latch on to your breast can take practice, but with support, patience and time you will have a good breastfeeding latch in no time.
It should never hurt when you’re breastfeeding your baby. You might experience a tingling and stinging feeling that you may get with the let-down of your milk, but beyond that you shouldn’t experience any pain. If you are in pain, it’s a sign that your baby isn’t latched on correctly.
Here’s how to get a good breastfeeding latch
- Make sure that you’re in a peaceful, private atmosphere for your initial nursing attempts. Assume a totally comfortable position, and make sure that you have a drink at hand as you might feel a bit thirsty.
- Don’t wait until your baby cries uncontrollably before you offer the breast.
- Wear a front-opening dress, top and nightshirt during the first few days to make it easier to see what you are doing.
- Make use of your baby’s rooting instinct. Tickle your baby’s lips and cheek closest to you until the little mouth opens wide and turns to the breast. Make sure your baby’s body faces yours so that the neck is not at an awkward angle.
- As you notice the bottom lip curl downwards and the mouth open wide, gently but firmly hold baby’s head against your breast, cupping your hand around your baby’s head. As they often tend to pull away initially, this will reassure your baby that he will soon be satisfied. Don’t feel uncertain about this – it is quite normal and will pass in time.
- If your baby has difficulty opening his mouth sufficiently, pull downwards on his chin to encourage him to open his mouth wider.
- The actual site of latching is not on the nipple itself but on the areola (the dark pigment area around the nipple). It is essential that your baby grasps well behind the nipple, as the little reservoirs of milk are located there.
- The first few sucks might be very strong and even painful, but the discomfort should ease rapidly if latching is correct. If pain persists, it means that your baby is incorrectly latched. In this case you should assume a different position for breastfeeding.
- If your baby is latched and drinking well, you will notice active movement of the cheeks right up to baby’s temples. Your breasts will also pull in towards your baby’s mouth in a pronounced fashion. If your baby’s cheeks draw inwards, latching is usually incorrect.
- Listen for sounds of swallowing.
- Don’t worry about your baby’s ability to breathe – they mostly manage quite well while feeding, and you don’t really have to hold your breast away from their nose.
- A restless drinker that won’t calm easily at the start of a feed often responds excellently to waking and feeding. Cradle your baby in your arms and move around as you allow him to latch – keep it up for a while until you notice your baby’s body relaxing noticeably before sitting.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.