A good latch is essential if breastfeeding is to be successful. You will then avoid painful and sore nipples and your baby will get the milk he or she needs.
How can I help baby latch on?
Hold your baby close at breast height, with baby’s nose in contact with your nipple. This ensures that baby has to open wide to get plenty of breast into her mouth, while her head is tilted backwards slightly. That way, the nipple will more easily reach the roof of baby’s mouth. This triggers the sucking reflex so baby latches on and creates a vacuum. If you have problems getting your baby latched on, try moulding your breast to make it easier for baby to open wide around the nipple. Cup your breast behind the darker area around the nipple (the areola). Mould your breast according to the nursing position you are using.
How do I know if my baby has latched on correctly?
Your baby has a good latch if you are not in pain and baby is swallowing milk. Your baby should be able to get a good latch if he is resting against you, correctly positioned relative to your breast, with his mouth wide open and full of breast tissue. Baby's head should be tilted backwards slightly, so that his nose is clear of your breast. His chin should be planted deeply against your breast. You can see and hear that your little one is swallowing milk; the sound may be quiet, and the swallows/gulps barely-there. It may take a little practice to be able to tell. Your nipple should be round after a feed. If it is lipstick-shaped or flat, this may indicate that baby may not have had a full mouthful of your breast. A good latch prevents sore nipples.
How do I shape my breast so my baby gets a good latch?
To get a good latch, your baby must have plenty of breast tissue in her mouth. If this is difficult, because your breast is engorged (hard and swollen), you can try moulding your breast to shape. To do this, cup your breast a little bit in from the nipple and squeeze gently. Your fingers should not get in the way of baby’s open mouth. The shape of your breast needs to fit baby's mouth, to make it easier for her to open wide around it. Shape your breast according to the position you are breastfeeding in. If lying on your side, hold the side of your breast. In other positions, you should either hold your breast from underneath, e.g. in the cross-cradle or clutch position, or from above, e.g. in the cradle position. You can also try holding your breast at an angle to match the angle of baby’s mouth.