Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to feed and bond with your baby! But breastfeeding can be difficult at first… I mean it looks easy enough right?
Well, not quite…
Knowing how to get a good latch is the key to breastfeeding. In fact, having a good latch is the most important part of breastfeeding! If you don’t have a good latch you can’t breastfeed.
Having a bad latch can result in super painful feedings, extra sore nipples, and can also mean the baby won’t get all milk that he needs.
Figuring out how to get that good latch can be challenging.
A LOT of women experience latch problems.
Learning how to get a good latch was the most challenging part for me when I started. Which was a surprise to me since I thought it’d be easy! I figured when I had my baby I’d just latch her right on and she’d eat with no problems.
HA, boy I was wrong!
When I first started breastfeeding, figuring how to get my baby latch on was way harder than I thought it was going to be.
We did eventually get it after much trial and error and lots of patience. But it was a bumpy road in the beginning.
Below I’ve gathered up some breastfeeding tips so to help you get that perfect latch!
Hopefully, these breastfeeding tips for latching on will make learning to breastfeed much easier for both you and your baby!
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How to Get the Perfect Breastfeeding Latch
Take a Class
I think one of the most important things is to take a breastfeeding class!
These classes will teach you many things like benefits, positioning, and most importantly latching!
There are many classes out there that teach breastfeeding.
One of the most affordable ones out there is the Milkology Online Breastfeeding Course.
She covers many things in this course and offers bonuses at the end including a breastfeeding troubleshoot guide PDF and an ebook full of breastfeeding secrets!
You’re gonna want to be comfortable while you’re breastfeeding. So get to a place where you can relax and be comfortable. Like on a comfy couch, nursing chair, or on your bed.
You can use pillows or blankets to help give you better support and to get comfier as well.
Mommy Tip: Using a breastfeeding pillow or just a regular pillow can be very beneficial! Having one under your arm can help give that extra support while you’re breastfeeding and it may help baby to get in a better position to latch too! I have this breastfeeding pillow here at home and I love it!
Having proper posture is SO IMPORTANT. Bad posture can affect latching and cause strain on your neck and back.
You’re gonna wanna make sure you’re sitting somewhere with good back support.
And NO slouching over! Slouching will cause back, shoulder, and neck pain.
You can avoid this by not leaning into the baby. Make sure that when you breastfeed that you bring the baby to YOU.
Your baby’s chin should be the first thing that touches your breast and it should stay there till the end of your breastfeeding session.
Good Positioning of the Baby
How you position the baby is just as important as how you position yourself when breastfeeding. Bad positioning can cause the baby to not latch on properly.
Your baby should never be twisted while breastfeeding. The baby’s head, neck, and spine should all be aligned.
This will make swallowing easier for baby. And the baby’s head should also be slightly tilted back to keep his chin from being on his chest.
Always keep your baby close to you during breastfeeding. You and your baby should be touching tummy-to-tummy the whole time while breasting. And baby’s nose should be level with your nipple.
Use the “C” or “U” Hold
The “C” or “U” hold may help you to guide your nipple to the baby’s mouth.
To do the “C” or “U” hold make your hand into a C or U shape and grab the sides of your breast. Your thumb should be on the top and your fingers on the bottom of your breast.
Be sure though to have your hand far enough away from the nipple so it won’t affect the baby from latching on when he starts to breastfeed.
Aim Your Nipple UP
Don’t aim your nipple toward the middle of the baby’s mouth. Aim your nipple at the top of his mouth.
Try aiming at his nose or upper lip to help you to go upwards. During breastfeeding, you should feel your nipple against the roof of baby’s mouth.
Help Baby to Latch Wider
You may need to help encourage the baby to open his mouth wider. You can do this by gently putting your nipple on the baby’s top lip or brushing your nipple in a downward motion against baby’s lips starting at the top lip and going down.
Doing this will help the baby to latch wider and make it easier to get a better and deeper latch when you’re breastfeeding.
Have the Areola in Baby’s Mouth too
The baby should NOT just have the nipple in his mouth.
It will be very painful if he does!
While breastfeeding the baby should have a good portion of the areola in his mouth along with your nipple. It should be mostly from the lower part of the areola.
But remember it’s okay if you can still see your areola when you’re breastfeeding!
Baby’s Lips Should Be Flanged Outward
A good way to know if the baby is latched on properly is to look at his lips. When breastfeeding the baby’s lips should be flanged outward so you should be able to see their top and bottom lip.
Their lips shouldn’t be curled inward. If they’re curled inward you won’t be able to see his lips.
Good Latch Vs. Bad Latch
What does a good latch feel like?
Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful. Your nipples may be a little sore or tender if you’re new to breastfeeding but not painful.
It should have a more tugging sensation.
What is a perfect latch?
Normally baby will start with quick rapid sucks until the let-down happens. After that, your nursling will start doing it more slowly and deeply.
There should be a pause along with the sound of the baby swallowing, meaning he or she is taking in milk.
Some signs to look out for to see if you have a perfect latch are:
- Lips are flanged outward
- Chin is touching breast
- Their mouth is wide around breast and areola
- You see tugging
- You can hear swallowing
- Baby seems satisfied after eating
What does a bad latch feel like?
Unlike a proper latch, a bad latch is extremely painful and uncomfortable.
It’s like toe-curling pain where your whole body gets tense and feels like shards of glass rubbing on wounds.
Sounds painful right?
Yeah, it is.
What is a bad latch?
A bad latch or shallow latch is when your baby is not on the breast properly. When this happens baby is not able to express the right amount of milk for themselves.
Meaning that baby will not be able to fully empty your breasts.
This can lead to clogged milk ducts and mastitis as well as a hungry baby.
Some signs of a bad latch are:
- Lips are curled inward
- Baby has just or mostly nipple
- Baby is sucking in their cheeks
- You can hear a clicking or smacking noises
- Baby is upset and frustrated after eating
- Baby has a low amount of wet diapers
- Baby is losing weight
How to avoid doing a bad latch
The best way to avoid doing a bad latch is to get the proper education BEFORE you start breastfeeding.
You can read articles (like this one), watch videos, and look at pictures.
But the best way is to take a breastfeeding class.
They may have a local one near or you can take an online course on breastfeeding.
My favorite (and the one I recommend the most) is The Ultimate Breastfeeding Course by Milkology.
And at the hospital, after you have the baby you can have a breastfeeding specialist look at your latch to make sure it’s good before you go home.
How to fix a bad latch
You may be wondering, “Can you even fix a bad latch?”.
Well, you’ll be pleased to know that you can!
To fix it though I would definitely go see a certified lactation consultant.
They are experts at this stuff and will be able to identify what’s wrong and how to fix it.
When to Seek Help RIGHT AWAY
If your little one isn’t producing enough wet diapers, isn’t gaining enough weight, breastfeeding is painful and continues to get even more painful, baby still seems hungry/unsatisfied after a feeding or you’re having trouble just in general with breastfeeding, seek advice from a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding specialist.
They are trained for this so they can help you with any troubles you may have with breastfeeding.
They can also check your latch to see if the baby is latching on properly and help you fix it.
I would also recommend taking your baby to see their doctor.
(Please keep in mind that I am NOT a doctor, breastfeeding specialist, lactation consultant or anything else. I’m only a Mom who is going off of her own experiences and research. If you’d like to know more you can read my full disclaimer policy here.)
I hope these breastfeeding tips for latching help you! Breastfeeding is a wonderful journey and I wish you the best! Let me know what you thought about this post in the comments! And if you liked it give it a share! Thank you!