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How do I know if I have the proper breastfeeding latch?

Updated: Sep 29, 2019

A proper latch...

Having a proper latch is important for the effective transfer of breastmilk. If your baby is not latched correctly, it could cause issues with milk transfer which also may cause pain for the Mama.

Breastfeeding should not be uncomfortable or painful (other than a slight tugging on the breast), therefore if you are experiencing any trouble, you may need additional help from a lactation specialist.

Possible issues...

Some problems that may occur with an improper latch include painful nipples, chapped/cracked nipples, or engorgement from pressure (because the milk is not being transferred) which could then lead to mastitis (a serious medical condition that could be dangerous to the mother).

Breastfeeding positions...

There are a few positions that every mother and baby dyad can choose from to meet their breastfeeding needs. These include the regular 'cradle position', the 'football' hold, 'laidback position', etc.

Each dyad has to figure out what position works best for them, but here are some tips for a successful breastfeed!

Mama and baby should be tummy to tummy. This tip helps to ensure that the baby is facing Mama with their head, shoulders AND hips. This also helps lead to optimal comfort and breastfeeding latch.

The second thing we look out for is the actual position of the nipple in the baby's mouth. Your baby should be asymmetrically latched on the areola so that the nipple faces the roof of his/her mouth.

To achieve this--- while positioning for a feed, your baby should have their nose adjacent to the nipple. The chin should meet the breast first. When latched, there should be more areola above your baby's mouth than below.

The corner of the baby's mouth should be at a 145 degree angle. This indicates that the baby has a good mouthful (of breast tissue) and there will be no painful nipple sucking for the mother.

Lastly, make sure that your baby's nose and chin are close to the breast. When latching, bring your baby to you, don't bring your breast to the baby! This simple act may decrease a large number of problems you are having while breastfeeding.

To conclude...

If you feel you are having difficulty/pain with latching, Mamas Maternal Health would love to work with you to help correct positioning for effective milk transfer.

We know how important breastfeeding is to you and your baby and we are here to support YOU! Click here to find out how on our website!

Until next time!

Mikayla and Cassie

Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors

Reference: The Lactation Counselor Training Course Notebook (2018)., Healthy Children Project, Center for Breastfeeding

Image by seeseehundhund from Pixabay

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