Simple Tips for a Good Breastfeeding Latch: A Guide for New Mums
Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it can be tricky to get the hang of at first. One of the most important things to get right is latching. A good latch is essential for your baby to get enough milk, and it can also help to prevent pain for you.
It's a good idea to seek some help and guidance within the first week of breastfeeding to make sure the initial latch is working for both you and the baby. If your baby won’t latch, you can speak to your health visitor, breastfeeding specialist or our lactation specialist for tips and tricks. This will help make sure that your baby is getting the nutrients to grow as well as prevent you from getting sore nipples, blocked milk ducts or even mastitis.
My Baby Won’t Latch
There are a few reasons why your baby might not be latching properly. Some common reasons include:
Your Baby Is Not Ready To Eat
If your baby is not hungry, they may not be motivated to latch on properly. Try waiting a few minutes to see if your baby becomes more interested in feeding.
Your Baby Is Too Sleepy
A sleepy baby may not have the energy to latch on properly. Try making sure your baby is fully awake and alert before feeding, or try feeding them in a quiet and dimly lit room.
Your Baby Is Tongue-Tied
Tongue-tie is a condition where the frenulum, the piece of tissue that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, is too short. This can make it difficult for a baby to latch on properly. If you think your baby may be tongue-tied, talk to your health visitor or a lactation consultant.
Your Breast Is Too Engorged
When your breasts are too full, they can be hard for a baby to latch on to. Try using a breast pump to express some milk before feeding, or try feeding your baby in a reclined position.
You Are In A Stressful Or Uncomfortable Environment
Sometimes stress or being uncomfortable can cause difficulty for the baby to latch on. If you are struggling to relax we suggest taking yourself to a quiet, comfortable and safe space to really feel relaxed in this special time with you and your baby.
They Have A Shallow Latch
It is common for babies to have a shallow latch, tips to look out for this can be spilt breast milk, or if you hear click and clack sounds, this could be a sign your little one has a shallow latch when breastfeeding.
A Good Latch vs a Bad Latch
Signs to look out for with a good latch will be making sure your little one's mouth is wide open and tongue down. Their lower lip should be turned outward and their chin touching your breast.
If you cannot see any of these signs it doesn't automatically mean your baby has a bad latch, but it is good to get advice from people close to you or your health visitor. A prolonged bad latch could mean you experience nipple pain, which may disrupt milk flow and your baby may not be transferring milk effectively.
How To Improve A Baby's Latch
If your baby won’t latch properly, there are a few things you can do to improve their latch:
- Place baby nose to nipple
- Gently stroke your baby's cheek to encourage them to open their mouth wide.
- Use your finger to help your baby latch on.
- Adjust your baby's position so that their chin is touching your breast.
- Take a deep breath and relax.
- Be patient. It may take some time for your baby to learn how to latch properly.
Tips For Breastfeeding In Different Positions
There are many different breastfeeding positions that you can try, so you can find one that is comfortable for both you and your baby. Some common positions include:
- The cradle hold
- The cross-cradle hold
- The rugby hold
- The side-lying position
- The koala hold
You can check out more info about breastfeeding positions in our handy guide.
How Breast Pumps Can Help With Latching
Breast pumps can be a helpful tool for improving your baby's latch. They can help your baby learn how to suck effectively, and they can also help to relieve engorgement.
Getting a good latch can take some time and effort, but it is worth it. A good latch will help your baby get enough milk, and it will also help to prevent pain for you. If you are having trouble getting your baby to latch, or if you are experiencing pain, be sure to seek help from a lactation consultant. They can help you assess your baby's latch and provide you with tips on how to improve it.