Top Techniques to Get Your Newborn to Latch On
December 7, 2015
The first few moments of a baby’s life for a breastfeeding mom may be spent working to help the newborn to latch on and begin suckling. Learn all about the latching on process, the breastfeeding products that may help you, and how to combat common latching on difficulties [interlink to article ‘You’re not alone: common breastfeeding problems to be aware of].
Learn to Recognize a Good Latch
Before you can learn how to get your newborn to latch on, you need to know what a correct latch looks like so you know you have it right when it does happen.
- Your baby should open wide to get the most amount of your nipple and areola in their mouth as possible. Your milk is not just coming out of one duct but more like 10 or 20 of them all around the nipple. The more your baby can grab onto, the better they’ll be able to suckle efficiently.
- The baby’s lips should not be inverted against the breast but rather faced outward similar to how a fish looks or a person when they purse their lips. Some mothers attribute the appearance to an open flower.
- You will feel a slight tugging sensation while your baby suckles but with a good latch it shouldn’t be painful. At first, there might be a small amount of pain but it will only last about 20-30 seconds and should not continue throughout the feeding.
- There is a rhythm to feeding when your baby has a good latch that you will be able to see and hear. The jaw and mouth will move in this rhythm and you’ll hear a slight exhale as the baby breaths while suckling.
In the first days, you may not see or hear the rhythm of the baby suckling because they are getting colostrum until your milk production kicks into full gear. That substance is much thicker than the milk that comes later and so the baby will swallow less and the rhythm will be very slow. There will probably be breastfeeding resources at the hospital during these first days to help you with latching on and seeing how your baby feeds.
Observe Your Breasts
It’s likely that you know your breasts pretty well but you’d be surprised how much more there is to find out and when you do, you’ll be aware of what to expect when you start breastfeeding [interlink to article ‘Breastfeeding timeline – the first year of expectations]. Do you have inverted, flat, or long nipples? Are your breasts already engorged during your pregnancy? Find your breastfeeding support in a lactation specialist or doula before you give birth and ask questions about your breasts. You’ll be able to learn about any anatomical issues that may make latching on difficult for your newborn.
Find Comfort For Mom and Baby
Create a space in your home for nursing and make sure you have a good breastfeeding pillow to help support your baby during feeding. In order to get your newborn to latch on, you may to change positions several times before you find one that works for both of you. Your baby needs to feel safe and supported before being able to latch on at all and the position you choose will put them at the breast at the right spot so latching on is simple and natural.
Just as you need to know how to recognize a good latch, you should also learn to recognize a bad one and notice when you need to find extra breastfeeding support to help you get through any difficulties you or your baby are having. Pinching, biting, or pain that lasts throughout the entire feeding or between feedings are the top signs to recognize that there is a problem. Take a breastfeeding class and talk to other breastfeeding moms about their experiences to find out from someone who’s done it before what they did to get a good latch. Above all, don’t give up! Keep your commitment to breastfeeding and remain diligent. It may take some time, but eventually your baby will latch on and be nursing efficiently.