Latching is how your baby takes your breast and your nipple into their mouth. A good latch is very important for breastfeeding. Having a good latch will help your baby to breastfeed well.
A poor latch can lead to:
- a hungry baby
- sore nipples
- decreased milk supply
Some babies can latch themselves while others may need some help. Before latching your baby, get comfortable and find a position that works well for you. Make sure that you are comfortable and your back and arms are well supported. Use a pillow for your back if needed.
To latch your baby:
- hold your breast in your hand. Place thumb on top and fingers below your breast
- point your nipple toward your baby’s nose
- stroke your baby’s lower lip with your nipple
- wait until baby’s mouth is wide open like a yawn
- bring your baby, chin first to your breast. Their mouth should cover lots of the dark area below the nipple (about 1.5 inches)
Your baby is latched properly on the breast when:
- their mouth is opened wide
- their lips are curled out
- their chin is pressed into your breast
- they are sucking and swallowing breast milk
Offer the second breast when your baby no longer has strong “deep and slow” sucks and your breasts feel softer. Your baby may only breastfeed a short time on the second breast. At the next breastfeeding offer the breast that feels the fullest.
If your baby falls asleep while breastfeeding:
Try squeezing your breast to help the breast milk flow. Do not squeeze so hard that it hurts. This will help your baby to start sucking again. You can also try:
- taking your baby’s clothes off
- changing your baby’s diaper
- gently massaging your baby’s back, feet, or hands
If you are having pain:
If you feel pain when your baby is breastfeeding a poor latch may be the problem. Gently remove your baby from the breast and start again. To take your baby off your breast, break the suction by:
- slipping your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth
- pulling down on your baby’s chin
If your breasts feel hard and you are having difficulty latching your baby try the following to help soften your breasts:
- cool compress to reduce swelling
- warm shower or compress to help soften the breast
- massage your breast and hand express some milk
If you have any questions about latching your baby or need any breastfeeding support, please e-chat with our nurse or call (416) 338-7600.