The most essential component of breastfeeding is your baby’s latch. However, most moms and nursing babies will experience some difficulties along the way. It is important not to become discouraged if your baby struggles to latch correctly!
Lactation consultants and outside support from moms who have had similar experiences can be very beneficial. You are definitely not alone! When newborns have difficulty latching, your patience and efforts can help them learn. Here are five latching tips to help you and your little one along your breastfeeding journey:
1. Know The Signs
To be successful, it is essential to recognize the key components of a productive latch. You can know that your baby is latching correctly when their mouth is wide open and their chin is dropped down, touching your breast. It is important that their tongue is down, and their lips are flanged on the darkest part of your breast (the areola).
The most common indicator of an incorrect latch is that your little one’s lips are puckered or turned in toward the nipple of your breast or the inside of their mouth, rather than flared open wide around the areola. Also, while nursing, you should feel a tugging or pulling sensation on your breast, and be able to see that your little one is consistently swallowing.
2. Set the Stage
Make sure that wherever you choose to nurse is quiet and comfortable, especially in the beginning. If nursing sessions tend to be long or your newborn is cluster feeding, it is convenient to have a water bottle and a few snacks nearby. A burp cloth and swaddle blanket can be helpful to keep your baby (and you!) both clean and cozy.
Also, choosing to use a breastfeeding pillow can help you nurse more comfortably, and keep your little one snug and close to your body as they learn how to develop a deeper latch. Because a good latch starts by bringing baby right up to your breast, lifting your baby with a single-height pillow is limiting and can put nursing moms in very uncomfortable positions.
Luckily, the Infantino Elevate Adjustable Nursing Pillow™ was designed by moms, with their own breastfeeding babies in mind. The revolutionary layered pillow is easily adjustable and raises babies to breast height with three different elevation levels, which creates more nursing-position options for moms.
3. Assume the Position
It is important to find the a breastfeeding position that will best help your baby have a deep latch while breastfeeding. There are a few different ways that you can hold your baby during nursing sessions, so that it is both comfortable for you and productive for them. The football hold, the cross-cradle hold, the cradle hold, and the koala hold are four highly recommended nursing positions.
4. Guide Your Baby
Your own guidance can help your little one latch more deeply! To start, you will need to line you baby up with their nose opposite from your nipple, along the edge of the areola. When they are close and comfortable, support your breast with your hand, and move your nipple along the outside of your baby’s lips.
If they seem uninterested, you can gently stroke their cheek with your nipple to activate their rooting reflexes, before moving stroking their lips. When your little one opens their mouth wide, aim your nipple at the roof of their mouth. Be sure to support their head and neck so that it is free to slightly lean back as they latch onto your breast. You want to ensure that their nose is clear and their chin is pushed down, so that they can breathe easily. Your baby should be able to look at you while breastfeeding.
Many new moms assume that pushing the back of their baby’s head firmly toward their breast helps them latch deeper, but it can have the opposite effect and also hinder their breathing and swallowing patterns. Make sure to verify your baby’s latch by watching for the key components of successful breastfeeding.
5. Be Proactive
Many moms experience sore, dry, cracked, or bleeding nipples during breastfeeding, and even progressive issues such as mastitis. However, taking certain preventative measures can help alleviate some of these concerns. To prevent nipple damage, be sure to break your baby’s suction between their gums and not their lips.
Also, ensure that their lips are always wide and flanged. If they become puckered or tucked in, your nipples can become very sore and damaged. To prevent mastitis, never allow your breasts to become so full that they hurt. If you know you are going to miss a feeding, make sure to have a breast pump nearby. In a pinch, you can hand express for quick relief. Also, nursing products such as lanolin, nipple cream, and cool gel packs can help keep your breastfeeding journey smooth and painless.
We hope that these latching tips will be beneficial to you and your baby! Happy breastfeeding!