6 Tips for Getting a Better Latch, According to a Lactation Consultant
Real talk: About a bazillion little things can interfere with nursing (a tired baby, a too-awake baby, eating onions for lunch). But getting a good latch is a great way to nix a lot of them. That’s because a better latch means better suckling for your baby and less pain for you. Which is why we chatted to International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and accredited La Leche League Leader Leigh Anne O’Connor to get her top breastfeeding latch tips. See ya later, sore nipples.
Put baby’s eyes on the prize
Lay your baby horizontally across your body and align her eyes with the nipple, advises O’Connor. “I tell the mom to imagine that there’s velcro on their belly and on their baby’s belly, so that you’re velcroed together and super close.” (But if the birth was a Caesarean or if there are two babies, then she recommends a football hold.)
Use the nursing pillow for you, not the baby
A pillow can be used as a support for the mom (and her arms—even the teeniest of babies gets heavy after a while), but placing a newborn on one can prevent a good latch, says O’Connor. Instead, try breastfeeding belly to belly (see point above).
Don’t push on the back of the baby’s head
This can intimidate the baby, and make the latch tighter as he tucks his chin down closer to his neck. (You want the chin slightly lifted to make the mouth open wider).
Gently press on the chin
“If it’s not a dramatically terrible latch, try gently pressing on the baby’s chin and flipping open the top lip,” says O’Connor. This won’t hurt the baby but will help to open her mouth wider.
Make tweaks, not changes
If your baby isn’t latching properly, it’s tempting to take her off and try again in a different position. While different positions for different feeds can be good, changing positions multiple times during the same feeding can lead to frustration (for the baby) and pain (for the mom). Instead, try making a few tweaks (like pushing on the chin) before taking the baby off and on.
Sandwich your breast
Here’s how: If your baby is going to nurse on the right side, hold your right breast (without picking it up or moving it) with your right hand, and place your thumb and middle finger on the breast in the three and nine o’clock position. Then, use your left hand to bring your baby up to your breast. Here’s the kicker: A lot of women “sandwich” their breast at six and 12 o’clock (i.e., up and down). “I tell parents, that’s like eating a sandwich and putting it in your mouth sideways!” says O’Connor.