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Latching On

Correct ‘latch’ is the key to successful breastfeeding. This is the most important thing to establish in order to ensure that milk is being produced, your baby is getting enough milk, and your nipples don’t become sore.

If breastfeeding is painful for the mother, the baby is probably not swallowing and not getting enough milk. This isn’t good for mother or baby!

  • When baby is well-positioned, tickle her (or his) lower lip with your nipple.
  • Wait until her mouth is as wide as a yawn. Then, quickly but gently pull her towards the breast, chin first. You may need to do this several times before you have success.
  • When the baby is well-latched, most or all of the areola (the coloured skin around the nipple) will be covered by the baby’s mouth and lips.

The lips will be rolled outward, and the chin (and usually the nose) will be touching the breast.

You will see and hear your baby start to suck and swallow as milk is released from your breast. Noisy sucking and swallowing is nothing to be worried about; it’s normal for some babies.

  • Breastfeeding should be comfortable, not painful. There may be some initial discomfort as the baby latches on, but this should not persist during suckling.

If there is pain while breastfeeding, take the baby off your breast and start the latch again.

Remember that in the first week or two, you may experience uterine cramps as your baby sucks. The cramps can be moderate to severe.

This is part of the involution process, in which the body returns to its pre-pregnant state.

Breaking The Latch

Most babies spontaneously come off the breast when they are full. When your baby is full and has clearly stopped feeding, dont pull the nipple out right away. Instead, break the suction by inserting one of your fingers into the corner of the baby’s mouth. This will let in some air and help your baby to let go of your breast. This technique is also a lot easier on your nipple.

Some Helpful Tips:

  • Express a little milk so that it drips at the nipple.
  • Bring your baby to your breast. Do not bring your breast to the baby by leaning forward.
  • If your baby is breastfeeding properly, you will see the muscles near her ears move in and out when she sucks. (Cheeks should not be sucking in and out, as they do with bottle-feeding.)
  • Your baby isnt sucking the breast properly if you hear a soft, clicking sound, see dimpled cheeks, or if her lips look like shes sucking on a straw.
  • Remember, its important that the baby takes the areola into her mouth along with the nipple.
  • If the baby seems to be having trouble grasping your nipple, it may be because you are engorged. Try expressing a small amount of milk to make the breasts softer and to allow for correct positioning of the baby on your breast.
  • When the baby is positioned correctly, her tongue will be over her lower gum, between her lower lip and your breast.
  • Some babies only take one breast per feeding. This is normal. Just start the next feeding with the opposite breast. BW

Published in March 2007

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