Latching Baby To The Breast

February 28, 2012

A proper latch is key to breastfeeding success.  It makes breastfeeding a comfortable and enjoyable experience and ensures your baby gets the most breast milk possible. The following tips can help any nursing mom get off to a great start or improve her breastfeeding experience.

Master the C-Hold

When you are ready to breastfeed your baby, place your four fingers below your nipple, and your thumb above, leaving room between your fingers and areola. This position is called the C-Hold. Gently squeeze your breast, making your nipple protrude more for your baby. When you’re ready, hold your breast and stroke your baby’s lower lip with your nipple. Then, look for your little one to open his or her mouth wide. If this doesn’t happen right away, press gently down on your baby’s chin with your finger and mimic your desired behavior by opening your mouth too. Once your baby’s mouth is open wide, like a yawn, quickly guide your baby’s head to latch onto your breast. Avoid pushing your breast toward your baby’s head, as he or she may become overwhelmed or frightened, pulling away from the breast.

Position Your Baby Comfortably

When you nurse comfortably, you are giving yourself the best chance at breastfeeding success. Find a relaxing place to breastfeed, and make sure you are sitting comfortably. Hold your baby close while breastfeeding and experiment with different common nursing positions. Once you and your baby are comfortable, you can begin to latch your baby to the breast. First, make sure your baby is turned facing toward you. When your baby opens wide, gently place his or her mouth over your nipple, so a large part of your areola is covered. Most likely, you’ll feel your baby’s nose and chin against your breast while nursing. A proper latch is somewhat asymmetrical, with slightly more of the areola covered by your baby’s lower lip. By bringing your baby’s hips in closely to your body, you’re making it as easy as possible for your baby to breathe while nursing.

Pay Attention To Your Baby’s Mouth

While breastfeeding, pay attention to your baby’s sucking patterns and latch. If you notice your little one’s mouth closing, breastfeeding may become uncomfortable and your baby won’t be able to empty your breast as efficiently. If this happens, use your finger to gently break the suction, and latch your baby back to breast. Likewise, if your baby begins to lose interest and the rhythmic sucking stops, you may want to remove your baby from the breast to prevent biting while nursing.  Understanding these cues from your baby will help to make breastfeeding most enjoyable for mom and baby.

Some moms assume that their baby will instinctively know how to latch, but in many cases breastfeeding takes practice and patience. For any nursing mother, a Lactation Consultant can be extremely helpful in helping you establish a proper latch. You can also use our online tool to find lactation professionals near you. Never hesitate to ask for support whether you are just beginning to breastfeed, or a nursing veteran.

Moms, what tips helped your baby latch properly? Share them in the comments below.

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