Breastfeeding: latching and positioning guide

Here we will cover many issues new moms may find themselves faced with when it comes to breastfeeding. Speaking from experience we know and understand the challenges that breastfeeding poses. Fear not, for we have provided some helpful tips as a breastfeeding latching guide to cover a number of obstacles nursing moms may find themselves faced with.

Latching On

Many will have you believe that babies take to the breast naturally. Not true. For some babies nursing is a cinch while others take time to develop a proper latch. Typically, the nurses at the hospital (or midwife if you opted for a birthing center or at-home delivery) will help you with the initial feedings if your baby is showing difficulty latching on. In some cases, however, the baby may latch on perfectly right away and then later show problems latching on.

How do you know if your baby is latched on correctly or not? You’ll feel it! Breastfeeding should not be painful, so if you experience pain when you go to feed your baby it could be an indication of an improper latch. Your position, the position which you are holding the baby and the way you offer the breast to baby can have an impact on how baby latches on. Here are a few pointers to help promote a proper latch:

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  • Make sure you are comfortable – sit in a comfortable spot (chair, recliner, couch, wherever) put pillows behind your lower back for added comfort and supportand under your knees if sitting up in bed
  • Be sure to have at least two pillows to support your baby (in this case, a c-shaped breastfeeding pillow is most suitable) use pillows to bring baby to breast-level and one underneath your arm you will be support the baby’s head with
  • Position your baby on their side so he/she is facing you in a tummy-to-tummy position. Be sure baby’s body is aligned so that the head and neck are straight and that they are close enough to reach the nipple without having to turn their head or strain.

When it comes to getting baby on the breast correctly, the key to remember is that the entire nipple should be in baby’s mouth. In order to do this you can cup the breast with your hand so that your palm is underneath and thumb is on top, keeping fingers and thumb clear of the aureola to bring the nipple into baby’s mouth. You want your baby to open their mouth as wide as possible to take as much of the nipple in as they can and not just the tip. Once you have baby on, the thing you want to look for is ‘duck lips’ where the upper and lower lips are turned out. If the bottom lip is turned inward you can flip it out by using your finger to ensure your baby stays properly latched on.

You should also avoid using bottles during the first 4-6 weeks if possible in order to prevent nipple confusion. Bottles allow milk to flow faster and doesn’t require baby to use suction and compression as they do while nursing which can cause further problems with latching on. You can also check out these bottles that will help with transitioning between breast and bottle once proper breastfeeding habits have been established.

Don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t succeed. It often takes several times to get your baby to latch on properly. There are also nipple shields which can be used for latching difficulties that may be caused from inverted nipples or an overactive letdown. Sometimes there may be an issue with your baby’s attention that is preventing them from getting onto the breast correctly, such as a tongue-tie, which requires medical. There are several resources you can turn to for a breastfeeding latching guide to help your baby feed successfully.

More breastfeeding tips:

Even more breastfeeding tips:

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