Mamas! Do your nipples hurt? Is baby gulping at the breast? Taking in too much air? Leaking milk? Not getting enough milk when nursing?
Getting a deeper latch can solve SO. MANY. BREASTFEEDING. PROBLEMS! Check out my favorite latch tips!!
1. Nose To Nipple
When you are getting baby ready to latch, her nose should be directly across from your nipple. Oftentimes moms will start with baby’s mouth directly across from the nipple. Try shifting baby slightly so she is “nose to nipple” and you will have a better chance at getting a deeper latch!
2. Wait For It!
Wait for baby to open his mouth to the widest point before latching. When you bring baby to the breast, he will root around, opening and closing his mouth and bobbing his head. This is your baby’s way of getting ready to breastfeed! Be patient and wait for him to open his mouth very wide before you bring him to breast. If you rush and bring him to breast just as he starts to open, your latch will be too shallow (aka, just on the nipple!).
3. Remember It’s Called Breastfeeding, Not Nipple-Feeding!
When latching, your goal should be to get as much breast in baby’s mouth as you can (not just the nipple). When more breast is in baby’s mouth, the latch will be deeper, it will feel more comfortable and baby will be able to nurse better (think less air intake and more milk intake).
4. Focus On The Lower Lip!
Ok…. this is KEY! When you latch, you probably look down to check out how your latch looks, right?? When you do this, most of what you see is the top lip. Instead, I’m going to have you FOCUS ON THE LOWER LIP! Now you can’t really see the lower lip once baby is latched on the breast, so you will need to pay close attention to the lower lip AS YOU ARE LATCHING.
The lower lip should be the first part of baby’s mouth that touches your breast. In order to do this, I want you to think of yourself taking a bite out of a sandwich. Like actually pretend to do it right now! Notice how you first put your lower lip (jaw) on the sandwich and then bite down with your top jaw? This is how you should latch baby, with the lower lip first followed by the upper lip. When you do this, aim to anchor the lower lip AWAY FROM THE NIPPLE (not at the base of the nipple), almost near the edge of the areola or close to it.
This ensures that a large part of the area underneath the nipple makes it into baby’s mouth, which helps the nipple get pulled into the back of baby’s mouth (near the soft palate) rather than in the front (where the hard palate is).
5. Did I Do It Right???
How does it feel? Does it feel more comfortable? This is a good sign! A proper latch should feel like a pull/tugging sensation, not painful, pinching or clamping down (and definitely not “toe-curling, worse than labor, can’t stand this another second” pain).
Is baby’s mouth wide open at the corner of her lips? This is also a good sign! If baby’s mouth seems narrow at the corners, or her lips seemed pursed (almost as if she was making a whistling shape) then her latch is too shallow and you should try again to get a deeper latch.
Lastly, take a look at your nipple when baby is done nursing. How does it look? If it is rounded or similar to your resting nipple shape, this is a good indicator that you had a deep latch! If your nipple is flattened, creased or pinched looking, you need to try a bit harder to get a deeper latch (go back to step 4: make sure you are latching with baby’s lip near the edge of the areola and not near the base of the nipple!).
A Few More Things To Consider…
Will this fix everyone’s nursing problems? No, but it will fix a lot of them! So what if you’re saying….HELP!! I did all of these things and it STILL HURTS or I’m STILL STRUGGLING!
Please see an IBCLC for a one-on-one appointment. A breastfeeding expert can make sure that there’s nothing else going on that could be causing the pain or other issues.