Techniques of breastfeeding : Positioning and Latching
Dr. Hesham Farouk
Aster Discovery Gardens & Arabian Ranches
Proper positioning for breastfeeding is important to help your baby to eat and transfer milk and swallow and to prevent or minimize nipple soreness for you.
Follow these guidelines to achieve proper positioning for breastfeeding:
- Sit in a comfortable seat.
- Use a nursing pillow or bed pillows to support the weight of your baby.
- Use a footstool during nursing if helpful.
- Always bring your baby to your breast; do not lean your breast into your baby.
- Place your baby in a relaxed and flexed position with his or her head slightly extended.
- Make sure your baby’s head and body are at the breast level.
- Check your baby’s positioning: if your baby is correctly aligned, you should be able to draw an imaginary line from the ear to the shoulder to your baby’s hip.
- Offer breast support with the c-hold, which is thumb on top and fingers and underneath the breast.
- Rotate your baby’s nursing positions to put your baby’s mouth on a different part of your breast. Try using the cross cradle, cradle, side lying and football hold.
How to help your baby latch on the breast
1: Check your latching position
Before you start, and whichever breastfeeding position you choose, make sure your baby’s head, neck and spine are aligned, not twisted. His chin should be up, not dropped towards his chest. Make sure you feel comfortable too – you could use pillows or cushions to support your back, arms or baby.
2: Encourage your baby to open his mouth
Hold your baby close, your nipple level with his nose. Touch your nipple gently against his upper lip to encourage him to open his mouth wide. The wider his mouth is, the easier it will be to get a good latch on.
3: Bring your baby to your breast
Once your baby has opened his mouth wide and has brought his tongue over his bottom gum, bring him on to your breast, aiming your nipple towards the top of his mouth. Your baby’s chin should be the first thing that touches your breast. He should take a large portion of your areola into his mouth, with his bottom lip and jaw covering more of the underneath of the areola.1 It’s OK if you see part of your areola isn’t inside his mouth – we all have different-sized areolae and different-sized babies! Some mums find that gently shaping their breast at the same time as bringing their baby on to feed helps. Experiment and see what works.
4: Keep your baby close during latch on
Remember mums all have different breast shapes and nipple positions, so you may not always have that ‘textbook’ latch. Whenever possible, keep your baby close to you, with his chin in contact with your breast. Newborn baby’s noses are turned up so they can breathe easily while attached to the breast, and can learn to coordinate sucking and breathing with ease.
5: Look and listen
As your baby feeds, your nipple will be against the roof of his mouth, cupped gently by his tongue underneath. The latch should not feel uncomfortable – it should be more of a tugging sensation. Watch your baby – at first he’ll do short, rapid sucks to stimulate your milk flow (let-down reflex). Once milk starts flowing, he’ll suck more slowly and deeply with some pauses, which may indicate he’s taking in milk – a good sign! You should see his jaw moving, and may also hear sucking and swallowing as he feeds. These are all good signs, but it’s also important to check your baby is producing plenty of wet and dirty nappies and gaining weight as expected.
6: How to break your baby’s latch on the breast
If your baby’s latch is shallow or painful, or he starts chomping on your nipple or brushing the end of it with his tongue, remove him from your breast and try again. Ease your clean finger gently inside the corner of his mouth to break his suction if you need to.
Signs of a good latch
Every time you breastfeed your baby check that:
- his chin is touching your breast and he can breathe through his nose
- his mouth is open wide and he has a mouthful of your areola (not just your nipple)
- his latch doesn’t hurt
- he starts with short sucks before sucking more slowly and deeply.