Written by Editorial Team
One major thing new mothers have to learn quickly after childbirth is the proper way of baby latching. Your baby will require your breast milk immediately after birth. Initially, your midwife or nurse will assist you in holding the perfect position and teach you the ways to breastfeed. But to understand the perfect latching for breastfeeding you will need a lot of practice. Baby latching is something that you and your baby will learn together with time.
Baby latching is extremely important for successful breastfeeding. Without it, your baby will not get enough breastmilk to fill the tummy and will get disinterested to suck more for the milk. And you will have to rely on formula milk to compensate for the deficiency of breastmilk. A poor latch will also cause nipple pain and discomfort. So, for successful breastfeeding, you will have to learn the ways to initiate perfect baby latching. Here are some tips for your help.
In This Article
Latching is the way a baby attaches or fastens its mouth against the breast of the mother while breastfeeding. In a good latch, your baby’s mouth will be wide open and the nipple of your breast along with the areola portion will be inside the mouth of your baby (1). Your nipple will rest in between the tongue and upper gum of your baby. The squeezing of your milk ducts by the gentle movements of your baby’s tongue and jaw will then make the milk flow.
There is no particular time for a baby to learn to latch. Some babies can learn it in just a few tries while others can take several weeks to learn the process. Effective latching occurs when your milk flow gets smooth.
How fast your baby learns latching will largely depend on your approach to it. According to the Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation, there is no proven evidence that a newborn baby needs to be fed every 2/3 hours. So instead of using force to feed your baby, you should use skin-to-skin contact (2). Put the baby close to your breasts and let them find out the nipple and suck it on their own. They will soon learn perfect latching.
Here are some more tips for you to make your baby latch properly.
Babies may have latching issues due to many reasons. The most important are listed below
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In a good latch, you can realize a suction between your breast skin and the mouth of your baby. You can hear your baby swallowing the milk. But in case of a poor latch, your baby’s lips will only grab the nipple section instead of the whole areola. As a result, enough milk will not be produced, and you will feel nipple pain. Here are some more signs of poor latching:
There are two techniques for breastfeeding latching. One is called the traditional latch and the other is the asymmetrical latch.
This is the most common latch where the baby’s mouth will be centered around the nipple and areola section of your breast and you can see an equal amount of your areola out and around over your baby’s mouth.
In this technique, you will have to place your nipple towards the upper section of your baby’s mouth instead of the center. Your baby will take more of the areola part towards the chin and less on the upper lip section. This technique is thought to be more effective and comfortable than the traditional latch. Especially women with big breasts find it helpful as they can see the baby’s nose is not getting blocked by the breast skin.
A baby latching properly is important for your baby to have milk properly and for your breasts to be able to produce sufficient milk for your little one. You may find it difficult for the first few weeks as both you and your baby are new to this baby latching experience. But after that, you will definitely become successful. Just keep trying.
If the baby latching is proper, then you will not feel any discomfort while feeding. You can see your baby’s jaw movements and hear swallowing sounds.
In a shallow latch, your baby’s lips will only cover the nipple not the areola section of the breast. The cheeks of the baby will look sunken, and you will feel nipple pain after some time.
You will know that your baby has latched properly when your baby’s mouth is wide open and the nipple of your breast along with the areola portion is inside the mouth of your baby. Your nipple is between the tongue and upper gum of your baby. Your baby is sucking milk slowly and deeply with pauses and between and you can hear your baby sucking the milk.
A good latch is important to ensure that your baby gets their full feed of milk. A bad latch can cause your baby to drink less milk. To ensure a good latch, first ensure a calm and relaxed environment. Let your baby relax, and have a proper skin-to-skin touch with your baby to help them get closer to you. Let your baby lead the breastfeeding process. Wait for them to open their mouth wide. Once they open their mouth, gently guide them towards your breast. Do not force feed your baby or push their mouth towards your nipple. Let them come to you. Slowly start feeding them. This process may require patience and time. You can take the help of a lactation consultant if needed.
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