Latching On

Learning to breastfeed and being successful at it takes time, practice, and patience for both you and your baby.  After all, this is new for you and your baby.  Even if this is not your first child, you will find that each child is different and he/she needs to learn to latch on and you need to learn the best way to teach them how to do so.

The most important thing to assuring breastfeeding success is choosing a comfortable position and acquiring a good latch by the baby.  Your baby’s face and body should be facing you, with his/her head level with your breast and his/her mouth level with your nipple.  You should be able to draw a straight line from his/her ear to shoulder to hip.

To achieve a good latch, gently lift and support your breast with your hand being careful to keep your fingers away from your nipple.  Gently stroke your baby’s mouth with your nipple until he/she opens his/her mouth very wide.  Once the mouth is open, quickly pull the baby onto your breast so that his/her nose, cheek, and chin are all slightly touching your breast.  The baby’s lips should be flared out slightly and covering most of the areola.  If you hear a popping or slurping sound, you have not achieved a correct latch.  You will need to remove the nipple from the baby’s mouth and try again.  To remove the baby from your breast, insert your finger into the corner of his/her mouth to break suction before removing the nipple. 

Your baby will suck most efficiently on the first breast he/she uses.  You should therefore alternate the starting breast from feeding to feeding.  Most newborns feed for at least 10-15 minutes per breast so that breast feedings should last less than 60 minutes.