Breastfeeding Tips for a Good Latch
Breastfeeding Tips for a Good Latch, Easy-to-Read

Breastfeeding Tips for a Good Latch

Latching is how your baby's mouth attaches to your nipple to breastfeed. It is an important part of breastfeeding. Your baby may have trouble latching for a number of reasons, such as:
  • Not being in the right position.
  • Using a bottle or pacifier too early.
  • Problems within your baby's mouth, tongue, or lips.
  • The shape of your nipples.
  • Your baby being born early (prematurely). Small babies often have a weak suck.
  • Breasts becoming overfilled with milk (engorged breasts). Express a little milk to help soften the breast.
Work with a breastfeeding specialist (lactation consultant) to help your baby have a good latch.

How does this affect me?

A poor latch may cause you to have problems such as:
  • Cracked nipples.
  • Sore nipples.
  • Breasts becoming overfilled with milk
  • Plugged milk ducts.
  • Low milk supply.
  • Breast inflammation.
  • Breast infection.

How does this affect my baby?

A poor latch may cause your baby to not be able to feed well. As a result, he or she may have trouble gaining weight.

Follow these instructions at home:

How to position your baby

  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Your neck and back should be well supported.
  • If you are seated, place a pillow or rolled-up blanket under your baby. This will bring him or her to the level of your breast.
  • Make sure that your baby's belly is facing your belly.
  • Try different positions to find one that works best for you and your baby.

How to help your baby latch

  • To start, you might find it helpful to gently rub your breast. Move your fingertips in a circle as you massage from your chest wall toward your nipple. This helps milk flow. Keep doing this during feeding if needed.
  • Position your breast. Hold your breast with four fingers underneath and your thumb above your nipple. Keep your fingers away from your nipple and your baby's mouth.
Follow these steps to help your baby latch:
  1. Rub your baby's lips gently with your finger or nipple.
  2. When your baby's mouth is open wide enough, quickly bring your baby to your breast and place your whole nipple into your baby's mouth. Place as much of the colored area around your nipple (areola)as possible into your baby's mouth.
  3. Your baby's tongue should be between his or her lower gum and your breast.
  4. You should be able to see more areola above your baby's upper lip than below the lower lip.
  5. When your baby starts sucking, you will feel a gentle pull on your nipple. You should not feel any pain. Be patient. It is common for a baby to suck for about 2–3 minutes to start the flow of breast milk.
  6. Make sure that your baby's mouth is in the right position around your nipple. Your baby's lips should make a seal on your breast and be turned outward.

General instructions

  • Look for these signs that your baby has latched on to your nipple:
    • The baby is quietly tugging or sucking without causing you pain.
    • You hear the baby swallow after every 3 or 4 sucks.
    • You see movement above and in front of the baby's ears while he or she is sucking.
  • Be aware of these signs that your baby has not latched on to your nipple:
    • The baby makes sucking sounds or smacking sounds while feeding.
    • You have nipple pain.
  • If your baby is not latched well, put your little finger between your baby's gums and your nipple. This will break the seal. Then try to help your baby latch again.
  • If you need help, get help from a breastfeeding specialist.

Contact a doctor if:

  • You have cracking or soreness in your nipples that lasts longer than 1 week.
  • You have nipple pain.
  • Your breasts are filled with too much milk (engorgement), and this does not improve after 48–72 hours.
  • You have a plugged milk duct and a fever.
  • You follow the tips for a good latch but need more help.
  • You have a pus-like fluid coming from your breast.
  • Your baby is not gaining weight.
  • Your baby loses weight.

Summary

  • Latching is how your baby's mouth attaches to your nipple to breastfeed.
  • Try different positions for breastfeeding to find one that works best for you and your baby.
  • A poor latch may cause you to have cracked or sore nipples or other problems.
  • Work with a breastfeeding specialist (lactation consultant) to help your baby have a good latch.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.