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LIFE-CHANGING BREASTFEEDING LATCH TRICKS
I will never forget the first time a mom told me I had changed her life.
Angela came to me because breastfeeding was causing her nipples to hurt. Wait, maybe “hurt” isn’t the right word.
She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said. “I really wanted to breastfeed but the blinding pain I feel every time I feed my baby is getting to be more than I can bear.” She told me that she was desperate for breastfeeding latch tricks that I could teach her.
I did what I always do when a mom comes to me with that problem. I said, “Show me what you are doing.”
I watched her position and latch her baby. She grimaced as she latched her little guy. I quickly realized what was probably causing her so much nipple discomfort.
And then I taught her how she could fix it.
NIPPLE PAIN IS A LEADING CAUSE OF EARLY WEANING
It is essential to know how to feed your baby without pain. Nipple pain is one of the most common reasons a mom stops breastfeeding before she planned to (Source). That’s no surprise. Nobody wants to do something painful multiple times a day.
A good latch is also important because the baby will get more milk out.
While the breastfeeding latch tricks that I am going to share with you may not sound earth-shaking, they can make a huge difference in how it feels. And if it feels better, you can start enjoying your baby again.
LATCHING TIPS FOR SORE NIPPLES THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
You’ve probably heard that the key to pain-free breastfeeding is to get a good deep latch. You’ve watched the YouTube videos. You’ve looked at the pictures. But you’re still having pain.
Follow these steps, and you should be able to latch your baby without pain.
POSITION YOUR BABY PROPERLY
- Her tummy should be facing and touching your body.
- Her nose should be across from your nipple.
- Position baby tummy to tummy
- Use your hand to support his neck and shoulder
- Baby’s back will line up along the inside of your forearm.
- Use the breast opposite the hand you are using to support the baby. So if you are holding your baby with your right hand, then you are latching to your left breast.
- Tuck baby along the side of your body
- Baby’s tummy will be against the side of your body
- You will be holding the baby with the same hand as the breast you are using.
- You hold the baby in the crook of your arm
- Attach him to the breast on the same side.
- I call this the advanced breastfeeding position. Because newborns have poor neck control, your baby needs you to support her neck. When she is a little older, this position will work better.
- Baby lays across from you
- Tummy to tummy
Laid-Back Nursing Position
- Lean back to a comfortable position
- Don’t lay flat
- Lay baby on your chest, between your breasts
- You can let baby wriggle his way to your breast and latch on by himself
- Or you can cradle him and support his head with your arm or hand
- Hold your breast if that is more comfortable for you
SUPPORT YOUR BABY’S NECK AND SHOULDER WITH YOUR HAND
- Put your hand on her neck and shoulders.
- This will make her feel secure and supported.
- This helps you avoid pushing her head down towards her chest instead of in towards your breast.
- Keep your hands off the back of her head.
- It doesn’t feel good to have her head pushed on
- Most babies will push away from the breast if you try to latch them by pushing their heads.
MAKE A NIPPLE SANDWICH
- Hold your breast so that your thumb is across from her nose and your index finger is across from her lower lip.
TOUCH THE SPACE BETWEEN HER NOSE AND UPPER LIP WITH YOUR NIPPLE
- Just rest your nipple there.
- You don’t need to move your nipple. That can make it harder to get a good latch because it makes it a moving target for your baby.
WAIT FOR HER TO OPEN HER MOUTH WIDE
- If she is opening only a little bit and then closing, be patient.
- Wait until she opens wide. It will happen.
AVOID PUSHING HIS HANDS AWAY IF HE WANTS TO SUCK ON THEM
- Baby’s hands are an important part of their feeding behavior
- When a baby sucks on his hands when you are trying to latch, he is calming and organizing himself
- Keep touching the space between his mouth and nose, and after a few seconds he will let go of his hands and open his mouth for your breast
- Repeatedly pushing his hands away can be disorganizing
- Keeping his hands away from his face by swaddling can make him less interested in feeding.
WHEN SHE OPENS WIDE QUICKLY PULL HER IN CLOSELY TO YOUR BREAST
HOW TO GET YOUR BABY TO LATCH DEEPER
Nipple pain is usually because of a shallow latch. If you have followed the instructions and it still hurts, try these tips to get a deeper latch.
- Instead of nose to nipple try for nipple to eyebrow.
- Gently compress your breast
- Try a different position
HOW TO TELL IF BABY IS LATCHED ON PROPERLY
- It doesn’t hurt after the first 10-20 sucks
- Baby’s chin is pressed into your breast
- There are no smacking noises
- Baby’s lips are flanged out (fish lips)
- Baby’s nose is not touching your breast, or just barely touching it
- When baby sucks his ears wiggle
GOOD LATCH vs. BAD LATCH CHECKLIST
TIPS FOR AN EASIER LATCH
Latch when your baby is showing early signs of hunger
USE BREASTFEEDING ACCESSORIES THAT MAKE LATCHING EASIER
Use breastfeeding products that make you more comfortable.
A Good Nursing Pillow
The top two pillows on Amazon are the Boppy
and the My Brest Friend
I really love the design of the new Boppy nursing pillow, the Boppy Best Latch Nursing Pillow. If I had designed a breastfeeding pillow, it would have been this one.
- I love that there are two different surfaces.
- The firm side is good for newborns who need a lot of support.
- The softer side is great for baby as she grows.
- I love that there is an adjustable belt
- I love that the belt can be removed for the mom who doesn’t want a belt.
- It is getting high ratings on Amazon. It’s always nice to know that other moms are loving a new product.
A nursing stool
I see so many moms hunched over when breastfeeding. I love a nursing stool for encouraging more comfy nursing. It helps bring your feet up just enough to encourage you to lean back.
I used a in my lactation office. The KidKraft Nursing Stool is available in white or dark brown to fit in with any décor.
A lot of moms like a comfy glider for nursing. This glider by Graco has an ottoman with a stool attached.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BREASTFEEDING LATCH TRICKS
Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. With these tips you should be on your way to more comfortable nursing sessions. If you have followed these steps and you are still having pain then I recommend a one on one session with a lactation consultant.
WANT MORE BREASTFEEDING TIPS?
I SHARE MY BEST TIPS IN BREASTFEED LIKE A BOSS eBook
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.