A latch is a position your baby’s mouth is in when attached to your breast for breastfeeding. A good, deep latch is often the answer to many discomforts associated with breastfeeding.
As a result, your baby will get the most milk, with the least effort, and you can keep your nipples from becoming sore and raw with an effective latch.
In the video below, Sarah Trinajstich outlines how to get a great breastfeeding latch (including a latch checklist).
If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.
Here are 6 steps for getting a comfortable and effective breastfeeding latch
Place your baby in the most comfortable feeding position for you. Prop your baby up with a feeding pillow, or another firm cushion, so they are at the level of your breast to prevent hunching over.
Place your hand that is going to hold the feeding breast in a “C” shape on your breast. Your thumb, nipple, and forefinger should create a line. This will look like you are holding a hamburger upside down.
Squeeze your breast gently to flatten it, making a horizontal line going the same direction as your baby’s mouth. This is like when we flatten a thick sandwich to fit into our mouths.
Hold your baby close to your breast and rub your nipple from your baby’s upper lip to their chin. This tickle will help your baby open their mouth big and wide.
When your baby’s mouth is open at its biggest, roll your nipple and areola into your baby’s mouth, starting with the underside of your nipple brushing past the upper gum line and anchoring the mouth open with the underside of your breast.
While you roll your breast into baby’s mouth, hug your baby in closely to bring them fully onto the breast. You are bringing your baby’s mouth up and over your nipple and areola, not straight at it.
Once the baby is on your breast, go over the latch checklist:
- Lips are flared outward, like a fish. If your baby’s lips are rolled in toward their mouth, use your finger to flip them outward.
- As much of your areola is in your baby’s mouth as possible. If your baby is only latched to your nipple, This will hurt and there will be less milk. Try again.
- Baby’s nose and chin are touching your breast. They can still breathe! If they can’t they will self-detach.
- You do not feel pinching or pain on your nipple. If you do, hook your pinky into the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the latch and try again.
At first, latching can feel chaotic…
You may feel stressed or tired and baby may be fussy. Go over these steps several times before baby is ready to latch so that you are familiar with them. If your baby isn’t opening wide, hand express a couple drops of milk and rub it under their nose and onto their lips.
A good latch is a skill that requires proper technique and practice. It is an essential part of successful and comfortable breastfeeding. Be patient with yourself and your baby because you are both learning.
If you continue to have trouble latching or your baby is unable to stay latched throughout a feed, contact your international board-certified lactation consultant.