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When you begin breastfeeding you will quickly learn that your baby’s latch is extremely important. The latch your baby has determines your comfort, your baby’s comfort and how much milk baby is receiving. A lot of women struggle with breastfeeding due to their baby’s latch and not even know that is the reason. As always, contacting a lactation consultant is extremely important in these circumstances.
Signs of a Good Breastfeeding Latch
To know you have achieved a good breastfeeding latch you will want to look and listen for these cues:
- Ears wiggle which means they are sucking and swallowing.
- You are able to see the tongue when the bottom lip is pulled out.
- Cheeks are rounded.
- Make sure you do NOT hear clicking and smacking noises.
- Your baby’s chin is touching your breast.
- You should not be experiencing any discomfort after you have latched the baby on.
- Milk should not be leaking out the corners of your baby’s mouth.
- Your baby ends his or her feeding looking content.
Tips for Proper Latching
Some important tips and techniques to remember to get your baby to latch properly include:
- Watch your baby’s hunger cues. You will quickly learn as you begin to bond with your baby when he or she may be getting hungry. If you are able to begin latching and breastfeeding your baby before he or she becomes extremely upset, you are more than likely able to get a good latch.
- Make sure you are in a comfortable position. Breastfeeding a newborn takes awhile so making sure your neck and shoulders are supported and comfortable is important. If you have a great posture and not straining, this will help with your breastfeeding latch.
- When breastfeeding, make sure you are tummy-to-tummy with your baby all the time. A lot of new moms do not even think about this, but this could be a huge difference in latch and comfort for you and your baby while breastfeeding.
- Keep your baby’s hip and shoulders in alignment. This allows for your baby to swallow easier when breastfeeding.
- At the beginning of breastfeeding you may need to hold your breast and help guide your nipple into your baby’s mouth. When you grab your breast, grab and cup it in a “C” hold or a “U” hold. Make sure you keep your hands away from your nipple so you do not affect the baby’s breastfeeding latch.
- Your baby’s head should be slightly tilted back.
- When your baby is latching, make sure you get as much of your areola into the baby’s mouth.
Preparing for Breastfeeding
Before you begin breastfeeding, it’s important to prepare both physically and mentally. Here are some tips to help you get ready:
Educate Yourself on Breastfeeding
The more you know about breastfeeding, the better prepared you’ll be when the time comes. Read books, attend breastfeeding classes, or talk to a lactation consultant to learn about the basics of breastfeeding, such as how to position your baby, how to know if your baby is getting enough milk, and how to avoid sore nipples.
Choose the Right Nursing Bra and Clothes
Comfortable and supportive nursing bras and clothes can make a huge difference in your breastfeeding experience. Look for bras with adjustable straps and flaps that make it easy to nurse discreetly. Also, choose clothes that are easy to open and close for breastfeeding, such as tops with nursing access.
Get All the Necessary Supplies
To make breastfeeding as comfortable and convenient as possible, gather all the necessary supplies before your baby arrives. Some of the items you may need include nursing pads, nipple cream, breast pump, and a nursing pillow.
Best Breastfeeding Positions
Positioning your baby is also extremely important when making sure you have a good breastfeeding latch. Some great breastfeeding positions include:
Cross-Cradle Hold This is the most common breastfeeding position for mothers right after birth. You will want to use your opposite side you will be feeding your baby from to hold and support your baby. Then on the side your baby is feeding from, you will guide and support your breast to the baby’s mouth. Make sure you and your baby are tummy-to-tummy!
Cradle Hold This is the classic breastfeeding position you may be familiar with seeing. With this position your baby will lie across your front at the level of your breast and make sure you are tummy-to-tummy. Your baby’s head will rest in the wedge of your elbow on the same side you are breastfeeding from. In this position, you can use your opposite hand to help guide your breast into the baby’s mouth if needed.
Football Hold This is when your baby will lay beside you, still tummy-to-tummy. Your baby will be under your arm while you are supporting the baby’s back and neck. You will also want to make sure your baby’s legs are bent so they aren’t pushing against the chair or bed you may be sitting on. This is a great position for women who may have had a cesarean birth.
There are several other positions for holding to achieve a good breastfeeding latch, which a lactation consultant could help and guide you with.
When breastfeeding, you will want to keep an eye out for signs of trouble. Breastfeeding is a normal, natural thing but problems may arise and this may be when you will want to reach out to a lactation consultant for help. You should not feel pinching or biting and your nipples should not be compressed, cracked or bleeding after a feeding. There could be a lot of reasons for these situations including your baby having a tight jaw, lip-tie, you may have inverted nipples, etc.
Fortunately, if you reach out to a lactation consultant sooner than later, you more than likely will be able to fix the problem and have a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
Troubleshooting Common Latch Problems
Even with the best preparation and techniques, there may be times when you encounter latch problems. Here are some common problems and how to solve them:
Sore nipples are a common breastfeeding issue, but there are ways to prevent and treat them. Make sure that you’re using the correct breastfeeding position and that your baby is latched on deeply. You can also use nipple cream to soothe sore nipples and avoid tight-fitting bras.
Poor Milk Supply
If you’re worried that your baby isn’t getting enough milk, there are steps you can take to boost your supply. Try breastfeeding more often, pumping after feedings, and drinking plenty of water to help increase your milk production.
Engorgement is when your breasts become painfully full of milk, making it difficult for your baby to latch on. To relieve engorgement, try breastfeeding more frequently, using a warm compress before feedings, and expressing milk with a breast pump.
Clogged ducts can be painful and make breastfeeding difficult. To prevent clogged ducts, make sure to switch sides during feedings and avoid going too long without breastfeeding. If you do develop a clogged duct, try massaging the affected area and using a warm compress to help clear it.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience for both mothers and babies, but it can also be challenging at times. By preparing for breastfeeding, finding the right position, and achieving the perfect latch, you can ensure that you and your baby are getting the most out of this special bonding experience. And remember to be patient, relaxed, and seek help from a lactation consultant if you encounter any problems. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to getting the best breastfeeding latch possible.
- How often should I breastfeed my baby?
It’s recommended to breastfeed your baby 8-12 times per day. However, every baby is different, so listen to your baby’s cues and breastfeed as often as they seem hungry.
- How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
You can tell if your baby is getting enough milk by their weight gain and the number of wet and dirty diapers they have each day. Most newborns should have at least 6-8 wet diapers and 2-3 dirty diapers per day.
- What should I do if I have sore nipples?
If you have sore nipples, make sure that your baby is latched on deeply and that you’re using the correct breastfeeding position. You can also use nipple cream and avoid tight-fitting bras to help soothe sore nipples.