For many mothers, achieving a great latch isn’t as easy as it seems. More than 90% of mothers struggle with breastfeeding during the first few weeks, making it one of the most common issues we face with our newborns! To start the breastfeeding relationship off right, you need a good foundation for you and your baby to nurse comfortably and effectively.
Signs of a Good Latch
- Fish Lips- Lips opened wide and untucked
- Clicking Sound- Watch baby’s cheeks as they swallow and listen for a faint clicking sound
- Comfort- You are comfortable and relaxed while feeding your baby
- Happy Baby- Your baby looks comfortable and full after nursing
Signs of a Poor Latch
- Shallow Latch- Baby isn’t opening their mouth wide enough to nurse effectively
- Pinching/Pain- Mom should not be feeling any discomfort that persists, especially any serious pain
- Nipple Stress- Nipples shouldn’t be slanted or pinched looking after feeding
- Fussy Baby- Baby is still fussy, crying, not able to rest after nursing
How to Get the Best Latch Possible
- Arrange a comfortable nursing station for yourself, with pillows, snacks, and water within reach. Make sure you can relax fully, roll your shoulders a few times and prop yourself up as much as you need to.
- Get baby ready to nurse by giving an infant massage, rubbing their feet or hands, talking to them, or changing their diaper. If your baby has trouble waking up to nurse, try these “Sleepy Baby” tips from KellyMom. Watch for signs they are ready to nurse, like rooting and sucking on their hands.
- Hold your nipple in a sandwich position at the middle of the breast with your hand in a U shape as shown above. Avoid pinching the nipple because that’s where baby needs to latch. We don’t call it nipple feeding, it’s breast feeding!
- Express a few drops of breastmilk to get baby interested. Stimulate baby to open their mouth wide by stroking under the chin, the cheeks, the hands, or the feet. You can also open your mouth wide to show baby what to do.
- Pull baby close when you see their mouth open wide, bringing them in so you don’t have to lean to them. Use the gif above as an example of how to pull your baby onto the breast, nipple close to their nose.
- Check for lip positioning, listen for clicking, and observe how your latch feels. If there is pinching or discomfort, use a finger next to the nipple to ease the suction and remove baby from the breast. Try again using the above tips and see the video below for a demonstration.
When Nothing Seems to Help
What nursing problems require evaluation? Anytime you feel you need help, it’s a good idea to get that extra support. Sublime Motherhood offers Postpartum Doula services, which includes Peer Breastfeeding Support for latch troubleshooting, supply concerns, pumping schedules, and more. Serious issues that require medical attention or a visit to a local IBCLC include:
- Cracked or Bleeding Nipples
- Thrush or Mastitis
- Nursing Strike
- Persistent Pain
More Breastfeeding Information & Resources
PDF guide, Breastfeeding Quick Tips
Sweet Drop Cafe– local peer breastfeeding group in Hampton Roads