No matter what breastfeeding position you and your little angel adopt, the most important thing is to make sure that they are latched properly. Latching is a skill that’s going to take both you and your baby a bit of time to master. However, once you figure out how to get a good latch, breastfeeding will be a much more comfortable experience for you and your baby, and your little one will be able to get the most milk out of every breastfeeding session.
Breastfeeding techniques for a good latch: step by step
A good latch involves both the nipple and the areola, or the dark circular area around your nipple. While breast milk comes out of the nipple, your baby needs to force it out by compressing the areola with their gums. This is what starts the flow and it is essential for proper milk let down, which is a process that ensures more breast milk is produced.
So how can you get this good latch?
- Step 1: Place your baby in a comfortable position and hold your breast with your free hand
- Step 2: Place your thumb above the nipple and areola around where your baby’s nose will touch your breast. Place your index finger below the nipple and areola around where your baby’s chin will touch the breast.
- Step 3: Lightly compress your breast with your index finger and thumb until it resembles the shape of your baby’s mouth
- Step 4: Bring your baby closer to your breast. Stroke your baby’s cheek lightly to trigger the rooting reflex. As you do this, turn their mouth towards your breast. Gently brush your nipples against your baby’s lips until your baby’s mouth opens up like a yawn.
- Step 5: Gradually bring your baby to your breast, allowing them to take your nipple and areola into their mouth. Your baby does not necessarily have to take your entire areola into their mouth. They just need to grab a decent portion of it.
Important things to keep in mind
- When holding your baby in any breastfeeding position, make sure your baby’s head, neck, and spine are aligned. Their chin should be pointed slightly upwards, not towards their chest. And finally, ensure you are feeling comfortable as well because you’ll need to hold this position for a while.
- Keep your baby close once they latch onto your breast. Let your baby’s chin be in contact with your breast. A newborn’s nose is turned up slightly so they can breathe easily at the breast and help them learn how to feed and breathe at the same time.
- Look and listen to your baby. When they first latch, they’ll do short, quick sucks to stimulate your milk flow. Once your let-down reflex is activated and the milk is flowing, your baby will suck more slowly and pause occasionally. You may also see some movement in their jaw, and you may hear them swallowing or sucking. All these are good signs that the breastfeeding session is going well.
- If you notice that the latch is painful or shallow, or if you notice that your baby is brushing your nipple with their tongue or gumming at your nipple, break the latch and try again. If your baby is grabbing hard at your nipple, you can break the sucking by gently easing a clean finger inside the corner of their mouth.
Contrary to popular belief, babies are not born knowing how to latch or breastfeed. It is a learning process for both you and your little one. With the tips outlined here and a bit of patience on your part, good latching should be quite easy to achieve. Good luck!