Breastfeeding Basics: How to Properly Latch on Your Baby
Get expert advice from breastfeeding counselor, Abbie Yabot, on how to properly latch on your baby.
When you choose to breastfeed, one of the first things that you should learn is how to properly latch your baby. The proper latch will help you avoid any unnecessary pain or discomfort. When you don’t latch your baby properly, you might end up with cracked or sore nipples, usually because an improper latch is caused by your baby’s sucking on your nipples instead of suckling on your breast. There’s a big difference between the two.
Sucking is the kind of feeding motion that your child learns when he is used to a bottle. Suckling, however, is a complex motion that exercises your child’s entire mouth, from his tongue all the way to his jaws. Proper suckling encourages the proper growth formation of your child’s teeth and signals your body to produce more breast milk for your baby.
The Proper Position
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- Mommy and baby should be tummy to tummy
Caption: Mommy and baby should be tummy to tummy.
- Move baby up to mommy's breast. Mommy should not lean towards baby. The idea here is: “Mohammed goes to the mountain. The mountain does not go to Mohammed.” This is to avoid any kind of back pain or strain on mommy’s part.
- If sitting down, Mommy should have a stool or stack of books to support her feet. She should also have a pillow to support her hands and arms. Mommy’s legs should be slightly inclined to keep baby towards the body of mommy.
Caption: Support your legs and knees with a stool or stack of books.
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- If mommy is lying down on one side, she should have a pillow supporting her back and a pillow between her legs. Baby should also have a pillow behind him. You can use a bolster pillow or a rolled towel for this.
Caption: When using side lying position, make sure baby’s back is supported by a bolster pillow or a rolled towel.
- If mommy is in a cradle position, keep one of baby’s hands on her breast. The other hand should be hugging mommy’s side.
The Proper Latch
1. With your free hand, hold your breast in a “c” position and offer the breast and gently squeeze parallel to the baby’s mouth.
2. Wait for your baby to open his mouth wide, as if he is yawning. If he is not opening his mouth wide, use your pinky finger to tickle the side of the baby’s mouth. If he still does not open his mouth wide, apply slight pressure on your baby’s chin.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Caption: Baby needs to open his mouth wide (as if he is yawning). Most, if not all, of the areola should be inside baby’s mouth.
3. When his mouth is wide open, guide your baby to your breast to get as much breast tissue into the mouth as possible (read: areola and not just nipple). Remember to bring your baby up to your breast and don’t lean forward to avoid back pain.
Caption: Make sure that your areola (and not just your nipple) is inside your baby’s mouth.
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- Most, if not all, of the areola should be inside baby's mouth
- More areola should be seen at the top than at the bottom of baby's mouth
- Baby’s head should be slightly reaching upwards, chin pressing on the breast, nose just right above the breast area
- He should have fish lips (lips spread outwards)
- He should have rounded cheeks
- You should be able to see movement in the whole jaw area
- There should be a pulsating action in the temple and ear of baby
- You should be able to hear gulping and you should be able to see some swallowing motion in baby’s throat area
- You should be able to hear some swallowing sounds (they sound like “kaaah... kaaah...”).
4. When your baby’s suckling has relaxed, you may release the “c” hold at the breast and transfer your hand towards the buttocks or back of the baby.
Note: If having problems or doubt with the latch, shift to a football or clutch position so you can see your baby’s full face and it will be easier for you to make adjustments to his position.
Caption: Football or clutch hold gives mom good visibility of baby’s mouth and latch.
If you need support, do not hesitate to call a breastfeeding counselor or support group.
- LATCH (Lactation. Attachment. Training. Counseling. Help). Visit www.theperfectlatch.com for a list of certified counselors that you can call. Email info@the perfectlatch.com
- La Leche League Philippines. Visit www.llli.org/Philippines for information on meetings and leaders to call
Photography by Heidi Pascual
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