Few people understand the importance of learning to latch. When in doubt, remember that the milk is not in the nipple – it’s behind it – so you need to ensure that enough of the areola is in your baby’s mouth.
- Wear a button-down top with your nursing bra, if possible.
- The rooting reflex causes your baby to root around, looking for the nipple and to open her mouth wide. Touch or tickle her lips and cheek closest to your breast to guide rooting.
- Your baby’s bottom lip curls over and the mouth opens wide. Cradle your baby’s head and gently hold her mouth against the nipple.
- Gently push the chin down a little if her mouth isn’t wide enough.
- Often, you’ll be told to push your baby’s head onto the breast, but any pressure may cause her to resist. It’s usually better to hold her body via bottom and shoulders and use your fingers to create a “safety net” for her head.
- Make sure her mouth is deeply attached, taking much more breast inside than you think possible. Imagine your nipple dangling freely at the back of your baby’s throat – it can’t get quite that far, but the further it gets, the less friction on the nipple and less chance of pain. Your baby’s chin should be squashed into the breast, and with her head tilted slightly back, her nose is free to breathe.
- Pain after the first few sucks generally means incorrect latching or the wrong position, so try again until it feels more comfortable.
A good latch
A good latch creates movement right up to baby’s temples and your breast will be pulled deeper with each suck.
A bad latch
A bad latch results in baby’s cheeks drawing inwards.
The let-down reflex refers to the sensation of milk shooting through your milk ducts. Some moms feel sharp pain in the breast or armpit, or a warm, tingly sensation when this happens. Not everyone feels this reflex. This reflex can be so strong that just the sound of your baby’s cry can cause your milk to be let down.
To unlatch your baby, simply put your little finger in the corner of her mouth to break the suction.
Common questions and concerns
Is my milk weak?
Even malnourished women are able to breastfeed their babies, as sufficient nutrients are drawn from the mother’s body to make the milk. Speak to a trained lactation consultant, but remember that only the tiniest fraction of women are physiologically unable to breastfeed.
Do I have enough?
A normal diet, plenty of fluids, as much rest as possible, assistance with latching and feeding on cue are the tools for successful breastfeeding. If you’re worried, take baby to bed with you and rest up. You could also take a natural tonic, such as Natura’s Alfalfa Tonic or an elixir containing blackthorn berry.
Should I have a feeding routine?
No, they don’t work. Your body’s milk supply and demand system requires you to feed on cue. Your baby will find her own time schedule soon enough.