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In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks to getting the best latch. As a certified DONA postpartum doula, one of the main topics new parents ask me about is breastfeeding. With the following tips that I have listed below, as well as proper positioning, this will help you achieve a good/deep latch. Here are the things that I am looking for when helping a momma with breastfeeding.
First things first, you’ll want to find a comfortable chair or place to sit in when you’re getting ready to breastfeed. Make sure that it provides good back support. If you don’t feel comfortable or have good back support, bring some pillows with you to help with this. Another thing that you may want consider is having a stool for your feet. The reason for this is it helps with proper posture and it keeps you from straining your neck and shoulders. Having good posture and being in a comfortable position is important.
The next thing that you’ll want to have is a breastfeeding pillow. There are many out there on the market that you can get. For example, a Boppy pillow, My Brest Friend, The Honest Co. even has a pillow and so does Dr. Brown’s. If you don’t have a breastfeeding pillow, you can use some pillows that you have around the house to help with baby’s position. But I will say that a good breastfeeding pillow really can help make things easier and more convenient and comfortable for you.
Now that you’re comfortable and all set to go, I’m going to share with you my six rules to getting the best latch.
Rule #1: Tummy to Tummy
When baby is ready to eat, you want to position baby’s tummy to mommy’s tummy. There are many different positions that you can feed your baby. The main ones are the cradle hold, the cross-cradle hold, the football hold, and side-lying.
In these positions, you want to make sure that you have one hand or arm supporting baby’s neck and the other hand is supporting your breast. Being able to hold your breast can help with getting more of your breast/bottom of your areola into your baby’s mouth. We call these holds the C-hold or the U-hold.
Rule #2: Nose to Nipple
A lot of parents that I have worked with have their baby higher than the nipple than the baby should be. I can understand why they think this is right since they are trying to get their baby’s mouth level with the mother’s nipple. (See below.)
However, we want mom’s nipple to be leveled with baby’s nose. This will help baby open wider for a better latch and help put mom’s nipple in the right place in baby’s mouth to make it more comfortable for her.
Rule #3: Chin to Breast
If your baby’s chin is down to his/her chest it will make it more difficult on them to open wide and get the best latch. We want to make sure that baby’s chin is up to mom’s breast. Once you have their chin to your breast and your nipple is to their nose, you will start tickling their nose and upper lip with your nipple which will help stimulate baby’s mouth to open. Once baby’s mouth has opened wide and their tongue is down, you are ready for rule number four!
Rule #4: Baby to You, Not You to Baby
When baby has his mouth open wide, be sure to bring baby to you and not lean over bringing your breast to baby. I can’t tell you how many mothers I’ve seen lean forward and shove their breast in baby’s mouth as soon as their baby’s mouth opens.
Remember, posture is important! If you have poor posture, it can actually affect your let down and how much milk you are giving your baby. The more comfortable and relaxed you are during breastfeeding the better.
Rule #5: Nipples to the Roof
LOL! I know that sounds like a silly rule. What I mean is, you want to have your nipple at the roof of your baby’s mouth and have more of the bottom of your areola in his/her mouth. When your nipple is at the roof of their mouth, it is then hitting their soft palate. When you have the nipple dead center in their mouth, having the areola all around it in their mouth, your nipple will not be at their soft palate which can cause you to feel pain and potentially cause cracked nipples.
If you can tell that your nipple isn’t in the right place, you want to break the suction of the latch first before you remove baby. Otherwise, baby is going to pull your nipple with them. Ouch! The way to break suction is to put your finger in the crease of baby’s lips and your breast and press on your breast to break the suction. Then you can move baby and start all over again!
Rule #6: Fish Lips
Another thing that you want to check on is that baby’s lips are flanged out. If they aren’t, you can use your thumb to gently push down baby’s chin to widen their latch as well as push out their bottom lip. Every time I have done this while a baby was latched, mothers have told me that it helped and made the latch more comfortable for them.
These are my rules on how to get the best latch for baby! Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt so if it does hurt, try these steps to help with baby’s latch. If you feel like you need more support, contact your local IBCLC for in-person support.