Getting a Good Latch: A Checklist
If you are experiencing pain while nursing, or if your baby does not seem to be gaining weight well, the first thing that most breastfeeding professionals will examine is your latch. Getting a good latch is essential for your comfort and your baby’s milk intake. Below is a simple checklist that any mom can perform to check for a good latch. If pain or other concerns persist, please contact a Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
- Is nursing comfortable for you? Pain is a big sign that you’re baby is not latching correctly. In order for you to be comfortable, baby must be “latched on” to the breast (not the nipple). Although there may be some breast and nipple tenderness during the early days, breastfeeding should not be painful.
- Is your baby’s head tilted back? Your baby should latch on to your breast chin first (with his head slightly tilted back) so that he takes an adequate amount of breast into his mouth. Try bringing your baby’s body closer to you so that his head naturally tilts up.
- Is your baby opening his mouth wide? Your baby needs to open his mouth wide to prevent from only latching on to the nipple. Try tickling your baby’s lips with your nipple to encourage him to open wide.
- Can you see your baby’s lips? The upper and lower lip should be flanged outward so that you can see both of them. It is common for the lower lip to become tucked in, and often a soft press on the chin is enough for the lower lip to turn outward.
- Can you hear your baby swallowing? In the beginning of a breastfeeding session you will usually see your baby sucking quickly until the letdown occurs. After letdown, you should notice baby swallowing after every one or two sucks.
- Is your baby’s body facing yours? No matter which breastfeeding position you choose, your baby’s tummy, chest, and legs should be comfortably facing your body.
Babies who are given opportunity to self-latch, by using a breastfeeding position such as the biological nurturing position, will often surprise us with a perfect latch!
For more information about getting a good latch (and various breastfeeding positions), visit the following resources:
Jacqui is a Postpartum Doula and Breastfeeding Support Counselor in the lovely state of Oregon. She is the mother of one beautiful red-headed son, born in October of 2009, and is the founder of Natural Parenting Group.