3 Tips for a Successful Latch
Ok, so you hear all the time that a latch should not be “painful.” Since pain is a subjective experience and some women may feel the normal “tugging” of a latch as painful experience, it is a difficult piece of advice to understand.
Generally, you shouldn’t feel like weeping a river of tears every time your baby gets on. Your face shouldn’t remain grimaced, you shouldn’t be grinding your teeth, losing your appetite or unable to talk.
You may, however, feel a little shock when your babe first gets on. You may notice you take a quick intake of breath when the nursing first starts but it should shift gears into a tolerable feel. If it remains shockingly intolerable throughout the entire experience then you need to troubleshoot ASAP.
Look at your baby’s mouth.
Are bottom lip and top lip flanged out?
Is the angle of the mouth wide?
When you look at your areola in relation to your baby’s mouth does her mouth cover the underside of your areola with her bottom lip more than her top lip covers the topside of your areola?
(This is a good latch with flanged lips)
Are you hearing a click throughout the entire feed?
Look at her body.
Is his/her whole body facing your body rather than turned away so that her head has to turn to get on the breast?
Are her arms tucked in front of her creating a barrier between the two of you?
Is she hanging out loosely from your body or tucked in close in a firm hug?
Baby is nice and close here.
From these three questions you find the 3 tips:
- Make sure babes jaw and lips are wide with lots of breast in her mouth.
- Listen for swallows rather than clicks (readjust if you are hearing clicks).
- Make sure babe is close, close, close. She should be close to your body. Seems so simple but people forget it chronically.
So once you have asked these questions and assessed your latch what do you do if you find there is something amiss?
That depends. If your discomfort is bearable and your problem lies with the lips and jaw then flip the lip out with a finger and attempt to pull your baby’s chin down while she is nursing.
More often than not you need to place your pinky (clean) into the corner of her mouth to break the suction (so she doesn’t take your nipple with her when she comes off), take her off and start again.
To get a wide mouth you really need to stroke your nipple down your baby’s nose and mouth to get your baby to open wide. When she has a very wide mouth – act fast and bring her right to the breast. As you bring her to the breast, think of what you are doing: You want as much breast in her mouth and you want your nipple to hit the roof of her mouth so she knows to suck. You probably need to hold your breast to shape it so she has something that she can wrap her mouth around. The bottom of your areola should enter the bottom of her mouth first, planting her mouth open, then the nipple enters and aims at the roof of her mouth. Her lips should then seal to the breast and she will begin to suck. At this point, firmly bring her close, make sure her hands are embracing your breast rather than creating a barrier. Adjust her lower and upper lip with your finger, pull her chin down and go. Don’t forget to keep her close for the whole feed- you will be grateful for what that does for your comfort level.
These tips aim at achieving a comfortable latch. For determining if your baby is transferring your milk- look up: “Is your baby getting your milk?”
If you continue to have pain, if clicking is occurring throughout the nursing, if your nipples are raw, bleeding, blistered or cracked then make an appointment with Root for a lactation consultation with an IBCLC right away!
Please send any questions or comments to Aimee at firstname.lastname@example.org