Getting a good latch is key to a successful breastfeeding relationship. “Latch” refers to the way that your baby’s mouth attaches to your nipple. The quality of the latch can determine comfort for both you and your little one, and is also important for sufficient milk transfer.
A good latch means the baby’s mouth is wide open, with lips flanged (imagine a blowfish mouth) and the majority of the areola in the baby’s mouth. A baby should not suck only on the nipple—this will be painful for you and lead to sore, cracked nipples. The entire nipple should go back into baby’s mouth, making contact with the soft palate.
Often, issues with latching can be solved with a simple position change. But occasionally, latch problems can indicate a bigger issue, such as tongue tie. Poor latching can also lead to issues such as a lower milk supply, nipple trauma or blocked milk ducts.
Observe! And Get Help When You Need It
It’s important to understand what a good latch looks like before you actually try to latch your little one on. If you can, attend a prenatal breastfeeding class, hang out with some breastfeeding moms and observe them feeding or watch a few videos. Make sure your partner knows a bit about latching, too.
Just after giving birth, ask your labor nurse to help you with latching. Continue to ask for help once you’re in the postpartum or mother-baby unit. A lactation consultant can help you get a comfortable latch, as well.
Wondering how to unlatch, once you’ve got that good latch going? This brief video will show you how.
This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.
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