“Feeding could be painful, disturbing and discomforting for both baby and mother if baby’s mouth is not properly latched during breast feeding.
The most important part of a successful breastfeeding session is the latch. Latching involves – how wide the baby has opened her mouth, her head position and the way you have held the baby. All of these are crucial and once you obtain a perfect latch you both shall experience a wonderful time.
Why a Good Latch is Necessary?
Breastfeeding may make your nipple sour. But a good latch should make quite a difference.
A bad latch would probably make the baby cry for milk more often. This happens when the baby is not able to suck enough milk from the breast, which may lead to unsatisfying appetite and repeated cry for milk, especially during the night.
Sleepless nights, sour nipples, heavy breast from unused milk, breast pain, underweight and cranky babies are associated with a bad latch during breastfeeding.
You may not obtain a good latch in the first try itself. However, with the help from a lactation consultant and little probing, eventually you will know when the baby’s got the perfect latch.
Here are Some Signs of a Good Latch on Breast
- The baby’s mouth should have covered the nipple as well as the are ola (surrounding area)
- When you pull down the bottom lip, you can see the baby’s tongue
- The jaw will move in a circular motion instead of the chin moving rapidly
- Ears wiggle while drinking milk
- Rounded and full cheeks
- No clicking and smacking noises while sucking
- Baby’s chin touching your breast
- Good swallowing sound
- Nipples don’t hurt
- No crankiness from the baby
- When the baby is done, the nipple doesn’t look flat or misshaped
- Baby has opened hands
- Baby looks satisfied and relaxed
- Baby falls asleep
Techniques Used to Obtain a Good Latch
To obtain a good latch, it is important to get few things right!
- Sit Comfortably – Take a chair with a comfortable back support. Use a stool to rest your feet. This will avoid stress on your shoulders and neck.
- Breastfeeding Pillow – Use a breastfeeding pillow. It helps the baby to stay on a position and it also supports your hand. If you don’t have breastfeeding pillow, use a nice big pillow to solve the purpose.
- Your baby’s tummy should be parallel to your tummy (tummy to tummy with you always)
- Your baby should be in a perfect side alignment (ear-shoulder-hip in straight line)
- Initially you have to guide your nipples to the baby’s mouth. Hold your breast from both sides in the form of a ‘U’ or ‘C’. Make sure your fingers aren’t around your nipple. Your fingers may prevent your baby’s mouth from forming a good latch.
- To get a good latch, instead of forcing the baby’s mouth in the middle with the nipple, aim the nipple on the upper lips or nose. Rub your nipple across the line of the top lip and probe her to open her mouth wider to grasp it.
- The baby’s head should be tilted slightly back. His chin shouldn’t touch his chest. You should give him a little space for breathing.
- Don’t lean on your baby. Bring the baby towards you. Make sure you are comfortably positioned. Leaning will affect baby’s comfort and will strain your neck and back.
You will get the perfect latch when the baby opens her mouth wide, with chin dropped and tongue down.
- Do not try to force the nipple inside her mouth. The best way to improvise the latch is by tickling her bottom lip or slightly pulling the bottom lip or moving back and tickling the upper lip with nipple.
- One indication of perfect latch is baby’s mouth (upper and lower lips) would be flanged like a fish.
Holding The Baby
Holding the baby right forms an important part when it comes to breastfeeding.
- Cross Cradle – Most helpful position while breast feeding. Use the opposite arm of the side you are feeding (i.e. left breast for right arm feed and vice versa) to hold the baby and use the other hand to support your breast.
- Cradle Hold – Best when the baby’s few weeks old and when you aren’t very comfortable. Cradle the baby at the crook of your elbow on the same side you are nursing. Use the opposite hand to navigate the nipple and hold your breast.
- Side –Lying – Lay your baby on his side; adjust a pillow supporting her back. Face the baby and lie down. Your nipple should be in line with baby’s nose.
Breastfeeding should be painless. In a matter of few weeks, you will get a perfect latch. If you experience sour and dry nipples, you can use a nipple guard and apply nipple cream.