Best Latch On

When your baby latches on to the breast properly, breastfeeding will be satisfying for both of you. Your baby will nurse effectively and comfortably and your nipples will not hurt or be injured. Your baby is born with reflexes and instincts that help him latch on right. Your job is to help your baby put his reflexes to work.  The following guidelines apply to all breastfeeding positions.

Heads Up

Your baby instinctively lifts his head up and opens up wide as he lunges for the breast. For this reason, your baby needs to be held with your nipple above his top lip. Bring your baby to your breast so that your nipple touches him on his philtrum, the area between his nose and upper lip, and with his chin to your breast. Leave your breast in its natural position and bring baby to the breast, not the breast to baby. If your breasts are very large you can support them by keeping something underneath, like a rolled up hand towel.

The feel of your breast on his face triggers him to open his mouth wide in anticipation of latching. His head will tilt back and open his mouth wide, like a yawn. Quickly pull him closer, in one movement, to enable him to latch deeply on to the breast. Make sure that you do not have your hand or even a finger on the back of his head as this will frustrate his efforts to tilt his head back.

More on the Bottom

When your baby latches on as described above, his top lip will land just above your nipple while the bottom lip covers more of the areola underneath. This is just what you want. Since it is baby's tongue and bottom jaw that do all the work, this asymmetrical latch is more effective and more comfortable. It also keeps his nose from being buried in your breast.

Provide Stability

Your baby uses a lot of strength and coordination as he latches and sucks. He is able to do this from the time he is born if he has a stable base from which to work. Imagine a line running down the center of your infant's body. If that line is stable he can concentrate on the task at hand. Stabilize your baby by keeping him snugly against your body with his body facing yours and his midline straight. Holding him firmly behind his shoulders will provide extra stability. He should be so close to you that you could get up and walk around without worrying about him falling. Keeping his body tucked under the other breast will keep him closest to you. Once he is latched on, keep his body snuggled into yours for the whole feed. If his nose becomes buried in your breast as he's nursing, you have probably let him fall away from you. Pull his bottom in close to your body and his nose will free up.

Once Baby's On

If your baby is latched on properly breastfeeding will not hurt. You may feel a pull but you should not feel a pinch. When baby comes off, your nipple should be round. It will be elongated but should not looked pinched in any way. In the first few weeks, it may hurt for the first few sucks. This does not indicate a problem.

Baby's mouth should be open to an angle of 140 degrees or more. His bottom lip will be flanged out but his top lip will be neutral. If he looks like he has ‘fish lips' his mouth is probably not open enough.

Seek professional breastfeeding help if nursing is painful or difficult despite your best efforts to help your baby latch on.