For successful breast-feeding, a good latch is essential. Latching on to the breast is nothing but ensuring that your baby is hooked onto the breast properly. This is a skill, which takes some mastery, and most women perfect it after the first month.
What is a Good Latch?
A good latch encompasses both the nipples and the areola of the breast. The areola is nothing but the dark area of the nipples. The baby’s gums need to press on the areola to stimulate the milks sinuses and the milk ducts.
This will encourage let down If the baby is just sucking on the nipples, not only will he/she be hungry but it will also cause you to have sore nipples. Also, make sure that your baby has not missed the nipple completely and has started sucking some other part of the breast. A newborn baby can be very hungry and can eagerly suck often causing painful bruises.
How to Latch on the Baby
In order to get a proper latch, tickle the baby’s gums and the lips so that he/she opens his/her mouth wide. You can also direct your nipples to the baby’s mouth especially his/her upper lip, teasing the mouth until the baby opens it wide. This also prevents the lower lip from closing too tight while the baby is suckling.
If the baby does not open its mouth, try to tease the baby by dropping a few drops of milk into his/her mouth so that the baby realizes that this is his/her feed time. If your baby turns its face away, try tickling his/her cheek that is opposite to the breast so that the baby can turn inwards towards the breast.
Seal the Deal
Once the baby’s mouth is open, move your baby closer to you breast. Always move baby to breast, not breast to baby. Do not stuff the nipple in his/her mouth. Let the baby take it naturally. Wait until the baby opens its mouth wide and encourage the baby to latch on correctly. Wait until the baby has latched on correctly. Hold your breast while the baby is latching on.
Check the Latch
You will know that the baby is latched on correctly when the chin and the tip of the nose are touching your breast. The baby will also start to suck rhythmically and will make gulping noises. The baby’s lips should be flanged outwards like a fish. If the baby is sucking on his own tongue instead of the nipple, break the latch, ensure the baby is latched on properly and continue with the suckling.
Give Baby Room to Breathe
Make sure the baby’s nose is not pressed close to the chest, as this will prevent it from breathing. Breastfeeding will not be painful if the baby is latched on correctly. If the baby is making clicking noises, that means he/she is not latched on properly.
Unlatch the baby with care. Break the suction first by putting your tiny finger in the corner of the mouth so that the baby loosens his/her hold. Push between the gums until you feel the baby releasing the hold.