How to Breastfeed: Mastering the Latch

By on May 15, 2013

How to Breastfeed: Mastering the Latch
Getting the proper latch can make or break your breastfeeding experience. Our step-by-step guide will help you do it right.

3 Steps to Getting the Best Latch


First things first: Get comfortable.

Sit down and place a firm pillow on your lap; you can use a pillow designed specifically for nursing or a regular pillow.

Lay your baby on his side, with the front of his body facing you; his head, shoulders and hips should be in a straight line and his mouth should be level with, and directly in front of, your nipple. If he is too low, stack another pillow on your lap. You want the baby to come to your breast, rather than leaning over to bring your breast to him.

Step 1:


Determine which breast you’ll be feeding from and hold your baby using your arm on the opposite side of your body.

Using the hand on the same side as the chosen breast, place your fingers under your breast, your thumb along the side, and lift it up and forward (much like the effect of a push-up bra).

With your opposite arm, pull your baby close to you, tilt his head back slightly and tickle his lips with your nipple until he opens his mouth wide.

Step 2:


Help your baby get as much of your breast as possible into his mouth by placing his lower jaw on first, well below the nipple.

Step 3:


Tilt his head forward placing his upper jaw deeply onto your breast; the goal is to get your nipple as far back into his mouth as possible. Make sure he takes the entire nipple and as much of the areola as he can into his mouth.

Keep your fingers under your breast to help your baby stay latched on correctly; if your arm starts to get tired, prop it up with an extra pillow.

Three Common Problems


If nursing isn’t working for you or your baby, don’t fret. Here are three common newbie challenges, and how to fix ’em:

1. Painful nursing: Continuous pain throughout the feeding is the sign of a bad latch. It may hurt initially when your baby latches on, but then the pain should quickly subside. If nursing hurts, first break the suction by placing your finger in between your baby’s lips and your skin, then gently remove your baby from your breast and try for a better latch.

2. A fussy baby: If the baby keeps pulling off and on, or wiggling around, he’s probably not comfortable. Check that he is on his side, with his shoulders aligned with his hips, and prop him up with an extra pillow if necessary. If he’s still fussy, he may need to be burped.

3. Back pain: If you’re feeling back pain, you’re likely leaning forward. Sit up straight and reposition your baby so he is level with your breast. You want the baby to come to your breast, rather than leaning over to bring your breast to him. Using a small stool under your feet to lift your knees higher than your hips will also help you sit tall and take the pressure off your lower back.


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