How to Get the Proper Breastfeeding Latch

Believe it or not, newborns are born instinctively knowing how to breastfeed. They know how to find your breast and can latch on usually with little to no assistance. Latch on, you say? The latch is the most important part of breastfeeding. It’s when your baby positions his mouth just right, “latches on” to the correct part of your breast and begins to express milk. If you get the latch right early on, your baby gets the nourishment he needs and you suffer from only minimal side effects (i.e. sore nipples) from breastfeeding. But what if your baby doesn’t latch on correctly from the beginning? Is there a way you can help him? Yes! Here’s how to get the proper breastfeeding latch right from the start.

Three Steps to Get the Proper Breastfeeding Latch

Make Yourself Comfortable. If you aren’t comfortable, it’s going to be a long and arduous process for both you and baby. Sit down in a comfortable chair and place a firm pillow on your lap. A nursing pillow works well in this instance. Lay your baby on his side so that the front of his body is facing you and his head, shoulders and hips are in a straight line. His mouth should be directly in front of your nipple. If you need to stack a pillow so that his mouth is level with your breast, do so. The baby should come to your breast, rather than you bringing your breast to him.

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Step 1. Which breast will you feed your baby from? Choose a side and hold your baby using your arm on the opposite side of the breast you’ll be using. Take the hand on the same side as the chosen breast and place your fingers underneath and lift it up and forward in the same motion as a push-up bra would do. Bring your baby up to your breast, tilt his head back slightly and make sure he’s close enough that his lips brush your nipple and do that introduction until he opens his mouth to eat.

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Step 2. If you need to help him along, place his jaw on your breast first so that it’s well below the nipple. This will help him get as much of your breast as possible into his mouth, which is the overall goal.

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Step 3. It may seem like a lot, but you want your baby to get his entire mouth around your nipple and areola. Tilt his head forward so that his jaw sinks deeply onto your breast and your nipple is as far back into his mouth as possible. If you need to keep your hand under your breast to keep him latched on correctly do so. Prop up your arms on pillows if they start getting tired. It may take a few tries for you and your baby to get the hang of it but don’t give up. Introduce as much of your breast as you can until his instincts kick in.

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Breastfeeding can be difficult at first, especially if you don’t get the proper breastfeeding latch right away. But the important thing is to relax and don’t give up. The more relaxed you are, the best possible chance your baby has to get a good latch from the get-go.

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