What does baby latch mean?
It explains the position of your baby onto your breast to get his milk during breastfeeding process. The good baby latch means two things:
1- Your baby is positioned correctly on your breast, and he gains the proper breast milk amount through breast extraction process.
2- You feel no pain during breastfeeding journey.
On the contrary, the bad baby latch means that your baby is getting a low amount of milk accompanied by nipple and breast pain due to incorrect breast latching.
How to tell if my baby has a good breastfeeding latch?
There are four main signs of good baby latching while breastfeeding:
- Your baby’s lips are flanged outside
- His nose is completely free
- The most of your areola is hidden
- His chin is immersed in your breast
The previous diagram is an example of the excellent deep latching in any nursing position.
Apparently, new mothers quit breastfeeding mainly because of the many mistakes happened during baby latch while nursing.
In our Breastfeedo visual guide of baby latching, we introduce to you applicable ideas and doable tips to carry out during your nursing journey.
It is beneficial to see rather than to read a theoretical information about breastfed baby latch.
For all back to work nursing moms, visit our visual guide on how to store, freeze, and unfreeze breast milk without mistakes.
The first step of proper baby latching is the most important one: baby’s wide mouth opening
The answer to the most popular breastfeeding question How to get baby to latch is to achieve wide mouth opening before breast insertion into his mouth
The good breastfeeding latch starts from your baby’s mouth opening. See the next picture to define the proper wide opening.
On the contrary, if your baby latch is not wide enough “narrow mouth opening” that is the first step on the way of breastfeeding ending.
Remember, your baby won’t latch right if he can’t get a huge part of your areola in his mouth.
How to guarantee the full opening before baby latching?
- Nipple at a higher level than his mouth “at eye level.”
- Hit his nose or the upper lip by your nipple
- Insert your nipple when his lips are flanged widely enough.
Wide mouth opening is dependant on your baby’s lower jaw. In mammals, the lower jaw is the only movable part of facial bones.
To get a good newborn latch, your breastfed baby should drop his lower jaw enough to catch the base of your areola. In other words, your baby’s mouth is cupping the areola from top to bottom.
Another baby latching trick that you can apply to ensure the good mouth opening which is the flipple latch.
The flipple or exaggerated latch is a simple technique to help your baby for good latching. Use one finger or two to pull out your areola and nipple away from baby’s mouth. Once he opens his mouth widely, release your breast to get into his mouth deeply.
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Proper latching in the case of large breast or smallmouth baby
In the early weeks after birth, you should consider two vital facts regarding baby latch:
- Your breast is heavy, big, and thick sandwich for your baby to catch. Plus, your baby’s mouth is small
- Your baby’s muscles and nerves are still developing regarding coordination and control
So, your support is crucial to his successful latching. Use one of your hands to hold and squeeze your used breast.
This squeezing is to:
- Minimize the area of latching for your baby
- Control your breast to achieve the deep insertion into his mouth
There are 3 breastfeeding holds that you may apply to prepare your big breast for your breastfed baby:
- The C hold ” suitable for football breastfeeding position.”
- The U hold ” suitable for cradle and cross cradle position.”
- The Scissors or V hold or cigarette hold
Do you think caffeine is safe during breastfeeding? Check now our 3 infographics to answer that debatable breastfeeding issue “Science-based answers.”
The proper baby latch and baby’s lips
Both of his top and bottom lips are flanged outward like in fish. By doing that, you guarantee that a tight seal is formed between his mouth and your breast (areola) with no breast milk leakage.
Besides, the seal prevents the air entrance while breastfeeding session which may be a reason for false baby fullness.
Your breastfed baby won’t latch properly because he can’t get the most of your areola inside his mouth
A perfect sign of deep baby latch is when you can see only around 30% of your areola (the upper part) out of his mouth, and the other 70% is in his mouth.
How can you check that?
Naturally, if he drops down his lower jaw to catch the base of the areola, hence -as we said before- the upper part of the areola shows up and could be seen from your side while nursing.
Low milk supply?? You may have a lipstick nipple shape after breastfeeding session which is a bad sign of baby latching.
Your breastfed baby latches on correctly when you can see his ears are shaking
Both adults and infants are producing a natural little ear movement while sucking, drinking, and eating.
Watch yourself while eating for this sign, where it is a natural mechanism due to the lower jaw movement.
In newborns, ear-shaking is a healthy sign of intense sucking as well as excellent breast milk extraction.
Clicking (noisy) sound is a bad (shallow) baby latch sign
When you hear a clicking, noisy sound while your breastfed baby is sucking your breast, unlatch him and try again.
This sound is an indicator of air swallowing with milk, especially if you started to feel any nipple pain or soreness. The seal is broken between his lips and your areola.
In this case, your baby is not positioned well in your breast, and you would face a lot of problems.
So, unlatch him and try again.
An effective milk extraction is associated with swallowing audible sounds
This sound is absent during the early phase of baby sucking and for 1 min, where your milk is not coming in right away.
It is a hormone-mediated process where your baby’s sucking stimulates the Oxytocin hormones release.
This hormone is responsible for the secretion of your breast milk from the breast milk glands. And this process is time-consuming. Learn more about how your breast milk is made within your body
(By the way, sucking on the baby bottle ” either breast milk or formula” is faster/easier than from the breast. So, be cautious when you are combining both of direct breastfeeding and bottle feeding to avoid Nipple confusion)
What is the best breastfeeding position for me? 12 pictures guide on breastfeeding positions is waiting for you now.
For excellent baby latching during breastfeeding, please pay attention to the following notes
Both of mom and baby should be positioned comfortably to guarantee the best breastfeeding experience.
- For mom
1-Support your back, neck, and head with pillows to avoid any further pain due to wrong body postures.
2- Pick the most comfortable breastfeeding position that fits you and your breastfed baby, where no position fits all.
3- Relaxation is an essential factor for you to establish and maintain breastfeeding successfully. Keep in your mind that baby latching is a skill you acquire after several trials.
- For baby
1-Your baby breathing pathway should be clear. This enables him to suck and efficiently swallow while latching on your breast.
2-Also, bring the baby to the breast by using a pillow upon your lap to level him up with no need to lower your breast down “back pain.”
Did you hear about baby self-latching?
Yes, your baby is capable of latching himself on your breast with minimal assistant from your side. This self-latching is a natural baby reflex if you follow the laid back position after 1 hour of birth.
As shown, your baby helps himself to latch using his hands. Besides, your areola and nipple are darker than the rest of your skin to make it easy for him to recognize.