How do I know if baby is latching properly? Is breastfeeding supposed to be this painful?
Picture this: you’re holding your precious newborn in your arms, ready to embark on the beautiful journey of breastfeeding. But as you try to help your little one latch, doubts start to creep in. Are they doing it right? Am I doing it right?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many mums face the dilemma of nursing their newborns without much prior knowledge on breastfeeding. That’s why we’re here to lend a helping hand!
In this article, we’ll provide expert guidance and practical tips to help you achieve that perfect latch, ensuring a smooth and fulfilling breastfeeding experience for both you and your baby. Say goodbye to uncertainty and hello to confidence as we dive into the world of proper latching.
How Do You Know If Baby Is Latching Properly
A breastfeeding latch refers to how the baby’s mouth should be positioned on the breast during breastfeeding. The baby’s mouth must be aligned properly, allowing for maximum milk transfer and preventing nipple pain.
Direct latching refers to the act of a newborn baby attaching directly to the mother’s breast to breastfeed, without the use of any additional devices or aids. It allows the baby to stimulate the milk supply and establish a strong breastfeeding bond between mother and child.
Types of Latch on Breastfeeding
A breastfeeding baby
There are many types of latch on breastfeeding. For example, the correct latch involves the baby putting his or her tongue under the nipple and then sucking in a way that draws milk from the breast. However, there are other ways to do it as well.
Some babies use a “suction” method where they suck and swallow at the same time, which is not recommended by most experts because it can cause digestive problems for your child.
Other types include “lazy latching” or “lazy breastfeeding,” where babies get milk but don’t put their tongues on the nipple; “open mouth” nursing, where babies open their mouths wide and take in a lot of air; “nipple confusion,” where mothers switch between bottle-feeding and breastfeeding too quickly; and lastly, “cross-cradle” nursing where mothers nurse with their babies facing away from them instead of toward them.
But a proper latch should be: baby should be positioned at a 45-degree angle over the breast with their nose pointed towards their mother’s belly, not her chest. The baby’s lips should be flanged out and their lower jaw should be tucked in so that it’s resting against their top lip. Their tongue should be close to their lower gum line, but not covering their bottom gum entirely.
It may take practice for a new mother to get her baby into this position, but it will make breastfeeding easier in the long run!
Updates by Pheona Ilagan
How to Get a Good Latch
Getting a good latch is important for both you and your baby! It can help you avoid nipple soreness, improve your milk supply and let your baby get all the nutrients she needs. Follow these tips to help get a good latch:
- Make sure your breasts are warm before feeding time. You can use a heating pad or apply warm washcloths to your breasts, but don’t overheat them—you don’t want to burn your baby’s mouth!
- Hold your baby upright with his chin slightly elevated so that he can see where your nipple will go when he latches on. This will help him find the breast more easily when it comes time to start feeding.
- When you’re ready to feed, put him in an upright position against your chest with his chin pointing up toward the ceiling and his nose pointed toward your shoulder so that he can see where his mouth is going as it opens wide enough for sucking action (don’t worry about how this looks—your baby won’t be judging).
- Make sure there’s no gap between his gums and lips or between his lips and teeth—they should be touching firmly so that he doesn’t get air bubbles in.
Why Is a Good Latch Important in Breastfeeding
A good latch is important in breastfeeding because it helps to keep your milk supply up. If your baby isn’t latching well, they may not get enough milk. Your body will start to produce less milk, causing your to pump more often. The milk supply will be affected, and your baby may become fussy as she is not getting enough milk from your breasts.
Also, a good latch will help your baby stay calm while feeding. It’s because she’ll be able to get all the milk she needs from you. And that’s rather than from a bottle or pacifier.
If you are struggling to get a good latch from your baby or are encountering any problems breastfeeding your bub, do not hesitate to talk to your paediatrician or consult a lactation counsellor in your area.
Signs of a Good Latch
Wondering if your baby is latching well during breastfeeding? Here are five easy ways to assess if your little one is effectively attaching to the breast for a successful feeding session.
Mouth Position: Your baby’s mouth should be wide open, with lips flanged outwards like a fish. This ensures that the baby takes in a good portion of the areola along with the nipple.
Chin and Nose Touch: Check if your baby’s chin is pressed against the breast, while their nose remains free for breathing. This indicates a proper latch and optimal positioning.
Sucking Sounds: Listen for audible swallowing and rhythmic sucking sounds. A baby latched well will have a consistent pattern of swallowing, indicating they are receiving milk effectively.
Comfortable Feeding: If you feel minimal discomfort or pain while breastfeeding, it’s a positive sign that your baby has a good latch. Pain or discomfort may indicate a shallow latch or other issues.
Contentment and Weight Gain: A baby who is latching well will appear satisfied and content after feeding. Additionally, regular weight gain and sufficient wet diapers are signs that your baby is getting enough milk.
Image Source: iStock
Latching Difficulties Breastfeeding Mums Face
Breastfeeding is a beautiful bonding experience, but it can come with its own set of challenges. Here are some common latching difficulties that breastfeeding moms may face and tips to overcome them.
Tender or cracked nipples are a common issue. To alleviate this, ensure a proper latch by aiming your baby’s chin to touch the breast first and wait for a wide mouth before latching. Apply lanolin cream or breast milk on the nipples to soothe and promote healing.
When your breasts become overly full and firm, it may make latching difficult. Prioritise frequent breastfeeding or pumping to relieve engorgement. Applying a warm compress or expressing a small amount of milk before latching can also help soften the breast.
Inverted or flat nipples can make it challenging for the baby to latch. Try using a breast pump or nipple suction device just before feeding to draw out the nipple. Additionally, consult with a lactation consultant who can provide guidance and recommend nipple shields if needed.
Incorrect positioning can lead to shallow latching. Ensure a comfortable and supported position for both you and your baby. Experiment with different breastfeeding positions, such as the cradle hold or football hold, to find what works best for you.
Some babies may have tongue tie or lip tie, which can restrict their tongue or lip movement, affecting the latch. Consult with a healthcare professional to assess and, if necessary, consider a frenotomy procedure to release the restriction.
Remember, seeking support from a lactation consultant, attending breastfeeding support groups, or contacting helplines can provide valuable guidance and assistance tailored to your specific situation.
Breastfeeding Shallow Latch
When your baby latches and sucks, does he or she have a shallow latch?
The problem with a shallow latch is that it does not allow the milk to flow freely from the breast into your baby’s mouth. This can lead to difficulty breastfeeding, which can be frustrating for you and your baby. Fortunately, there are ways that you can help your baby get a deeper latch so they can drink milk more easily.
What is a shallow latch?
A shallow latch occurs when your baby’s tongue isn’t covering the entire area of your nipple or areola (the darker area around the nipple). Instead, it only covers part of this area and leaves some part of it exposed. When this happens, milk may leak out instead of flowing into your baby’s mouth.
Why does this happen?
There are several reasons why a shallow latch might occur:
Your baby is sucking on just one side of his or her mouth instead of both sides at once. If this happens, they will only cover half of your nipple or areola with their tongue during each suckle—which means that milk won’t go anywhere near their mouth.
Image Source: iStock
What Can Happen If Baby Is Not Latching Well
When a baby is not latching well during breastfeeding, it can have various effects on both the baby and the mother. Here are some potential consequences of a bad latch:
- Insufficient Milk Transfer
- Poor Weight Gain
- Frustration and Increased Feeding Time
- Sore or Damaged Nipples
- Reduced Milk Supply
A poor latch can result in inadequate milk transfer, leading to insufficient nutrition for the baby and poor weight gain. The baby may become frustrated and spend prolonged periods at the breast, affecting feeding efficiency and causing fatigue for both the baby and mother.
Additionally, a bad latch can cause sore or damaged nipples, leading to discomfort and potential breastfeeding difficulties. It may also impact milk supply, as inadequate stimulation from a poor latch can signal the body to produce less milk.
Seeking guidance from a healthcare professional or lactation consultant is crucial to address and rectify latching issues.
How to Correct a Shallow Latch When Breastfeeding
Correcting a shallow latch is an important part of breastfeeding. If you’re having trouble learning how to correct a shallow latch, here’s what you need to know:
- Don’t worry about the nipple position. Your baby should be able to latch onto your breast without any nipple pain or discomfort. If you feel any discomfort or pain, ensure that your baby has a wide-open mouth and that he/she is not sucking on the tip of your nipple.
- Ensure that your baby’s lower lip covers most of the areola (the darker area around your nipple). If not, he/she may be biting down too hard or sucking in the air as he/she sucks on the breast instead of milk.
- Make sure that there’s no space between your baby’s bottom lip and chin when he/she latches onto the breast—this will help prevent nipple pain while preventing air from entering the milk ducts during feeding time!
When to Seek Help About Latching
It is important for breastfeeding mothers to know when to seek help regarding latching issues. If you’re experiencing persistent difficulties with latching, it is recommended to seek assistance sooner rather than later.
Consulting a lactation consultant, healthcare professional, or attending a breastfeeding support group can provide valuable guidance and support. These experts can assess the latch, offer techniques to improve it, address any underlying issues, and ensure the baby is receiving adequate nutrition.
Seeking help promptly can help prevent further complications and promote a successful breastfeeding journey.
Image Source: iStock
Updates from Pheona Ilagan
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