The infamous latch. What does a good latch look like? The latch can make or break a breastfeeding experience. A good latch feels good. There is no pain involved. A bad latch is painful and can leave your nipples sore and cracked.
In order to achieve a good latch follow these steps…
Step 1: Make sure you are comfortable. You should bring your baby to the breast not the breast to the baby. Ensure that your back is supported and you are not strained. Relax.
Step 2: Position your baby so that his tummy is against your tummy. Do not position his face to your tummy and his tummy to the ceiling. You both should be tummy to tummy. You should be able to imagine an invisible straight line from his ear to his hips. Position your baby’s arms so that the lower arm wraps around towards your back as he feeds in a semi-hugging position (Lactation Education Resources, n.d.).
Support your baby’s neck, not the back of his head. Imagine trying to eat your favorite food and someone is pushing you forward by pressing on the back of your head. This is not comfortable, and your baby will agree.
Step 3: Bring him to the breast with his nose at your nipple. He will smell your milk. Pull him away from the nipple an inch or so he will open his mouth. You want his mouth to open wide as if he is ready to eat a double-cheeseburger or yawning. This is the time to bring him to the breast.
Your nipple should fill your baby’s upper mouth. So, when the baby tilts his head back when opening his mouth wide allow his chin to approach the breast first which helps to ensure that the nipple stays in the upper portion of his mouth (Caldwell et al., 2006).
Check out this video for some visuals on how to latch and position your infant…
Recapping signs of a good latch…
- Your baby’s lips should not be rolled in but instead flanged out.
- Baby’s mouth should be opened wide around your breast.
- Going back to geometry in high school you should be able to envision an 140 degree angle branching out from the corner of his mouth.
- Don’t approach your breast with the nipple viewed as a bulls-eye. Instead, an ideal latch is asymmetrical. You should see more of the upper portion of your areola while the lower portion will be covered by the baby’s mouth.
- Nose and chin close to the breast.
- You should experience no pain. If you experience pain, break the latch and try again.
Caldwell, K., Turner-Maffei, C., O’Connor, B., Cadwell Blair, A., Arnold, L. D. W., Blair, E. (2006). Maternal and infant assessment for breastfeeding and human lactation: A guide for the practitioner. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Lactation Education Resources. (n.d.). Positioning & latch-on: Mother-led latching [Class handout]. Retrieved from http://www.lactationtraining.com/images/PDFs/handouts/Positioning_Latch-on_Mother-led.pdf