A proper latch will help prevent sore nipples. It also ensures that baby will get lots of your precious breastmilk!
- It is important to start breastfeeding as soon after the delivery of your baby as possible.
- To get your baby to latch on, we want to induce a nice, WIDE open mouth (like a big yawn).
- Get yourself into a comfortable position.
- Hold baby snuggled against you, tummy to tummy, with his nose lined up to your nipple.
- Manually express a bit of colostrum/breastmilk onto your nipple.
- While supporting your breast (cupping with your hand with palm and fingers on bottom and thumb on top, and keeping fingers clear of the areola) brush/tickle baby’s upper lip with your nipple. This will cause him to open and seek their source of food. Early on, it can take a bit of time to get your baby to open nice and wide, but with practice, baby will get used to how wide he needs to open to make sure he gets a good feeding!
- When you see that nice WIDE open mouth, quickly bring baby onto your breast (pull him towards you with the arm that is supporting his head). Be sure to bring baby to you and not lean down to bring the breast to baby.
- Now closely look down to see that baby has a good latch. When you look down, baby should be covering most of your areola (the darkened portion of your breast) about 1 inch beyond your nipple. If baby is just sucking on the nipple, you will have some pain. Baby’s lips should also be flanged outward, like a fish (or everted). If baby’s lips are inverted, simply take a clean finger and turn the lip outward or press down gently on baby’s chin to get the lip to turn (you may need some help doing this at first.
If baby is latched correctly, you should not feel any nipple pain and you should hear sucking and swallowing. If you do have pain while latching, or baby is not sucking correctly (if you’re hearing slurping), gently insert your pinkie finger into the corner of baby’s mouth, break the suction and gently remove baby from breast. Baby’s chin should also be resting on the breast (he’ll breath just fine through his nose).
Be patient and relax...and repeat the process as much as needed; a good latch is always worth all the hard work and several times you may have to start over!
See Page 2 of: Breastfeeding in the First Weeks for some great latch illustrations