With the growing awareness of how beneficial breastfeeding can be for both mother and baby, more expecting moms are making the choice to plan to breastfeed their babies. This is truly amazing and can really encourage a great healthy start for their newborn baby.
But many times new moms come up against breastfeeding difficulties that can make breastfeeding much harder. And eventually, many moms stop breastfeeding due to these problems. In fact, that happened to me when I started breastfeeding my first baby.
*I am not a doctor or a medical professional. These are just my experiences with breastfeeding my baby. This page may contain affiliate links, however, I will never recommend anything that I do not believe in and use myself. You can read more about my disclosure policy here.
How Can I Improve My Latch?
One of the biggest problems that new breastfeeding moms face is painful latching when breastfeeding.
To breastfeed your baby, you have to get your baby latched onto your breast correctly in order for them to suck and get breast milk flowing. But since latching your baby can be a bit tricky when you first start out, many moms feel defeated after trying and failing to get a good latch.
But thankfully, I was able to get my second baby to latch properly and was able to breastfeed him up until he was 15 months old. Here are 9 tips for properly latching your baby for breastfeeding.
1. Take a Breastfeeding Class
When I first found out I was pregnant again, I was determined to make breastfeeding work this time around. So I took a few breastfeeding classes taught by certified lactation consultants. And by far, my favorite breastfeeding class is Milkology.
Milkology is an online breastfeeding class that you can take from the comfort of your home. It is taught by Stacey Stewart who is a certified lactation educator that really knows her stuff. She has taught thousands of women all of her tricks for breastfeeding and pumping.
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2. Start Breastfeeding Soon After Birth
It is highly encouraged to start breastfeeding your baby as soon as you can after giving birth to get breastfeeding started.
One thing that helped with my breastfeeding journey was having skin to skin contact with my baby soon after he was born. I was able to have him on my chest even though I was having a C-Section delivery.
Skin to skin is proven to help with initiating breastfeeding because your baby can smell the colostrum (pre-breast milk).
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3. Proper Positioning for Breastfeeding
It doesn’t matter where you are when you are breastfeeding. You should always get comfortable.
One main reason is that if you are uncomfortable while trying to breastfeed your baby, your body will be tense breastfeeding will be more difficult. So always try to find a calm and comfortable place to sit down when you are preparing to breastfeed your baby.
Another big problem that moms face when getting comfortable to breastfeed is that they try to move themselves closer to their baby for breastfeeding.
However, it is best to bring your baby to the breast. This is because when you are leaning over to bring the breast to your baby you are putting your body in an uncomfortable position.
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4. Different Holds for Breastfeeding
Did you know there is more than one way to hold your baby for breastfeeding?
I was surprised at how many positions there are for setting up breastfeeding when I first started, but I found a few that were my favorite.
- Cross-Cradle Hold – Holding your baby’s head with the hand opposite to the breast you’ll be nursing from.
- Cradle Hold – Holding baby’s head resting in the bend of your elbow of the arm on the side you’ll be breastfeeding, with the hand on that side supporting the rest of the body.
- Football Hold – great for c-section births. Holding baby to your side like a football to your breast.
- Side-lying – You and your baby lie on your sides, tummy to tummy.
- Laid Back – Leaning back on a bed or couch, supported by pillows in a semi-reclining position, so that when you put your baby tummy-to-tummy onto your body, head near your breast.
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5. Encourage Your Baby to Open Their Mouth
It’s very important that your baby opens his/her mouth wide so that they are getting more than just your nipple to suck on, which could cause some intense pain.
Always try to encourage your baby to open their mouth wide by either rubbing against their mouth with your hands or with your nipple. And once they get a good latch around your areola, they can properly suck breast milk.
6. Breastfeeding Essentials
In the first few weeks of your newborn baby’s life, they will want to breastfeed frequently so it’s important to have all of your breastfeeding essentials set up close to you so you can reach them.
This may include a boppy pillow, bottle of water, burp rags, nipple cream, or breast pads.
7. Watch for Hunger Cues
Your baby will begin to show hunger cues or signs when he/she is ready to breastfeed. Some common ones
- are licking their lips
- sucking on fingers or fist
- rooting reflex (looking for a nipple when touched on the cheek)
It’s important to see these hunger cues before your baby gets too upset and starts crying. Once your baby is already crying for breast milk, achieving a good latch can be more challenging.
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8. Know Signs of Good Latch
One question I had when I started breastfeeding was, “What Should A Good Latch Feel Like?”
And honestly, it takes some practice to know exactly how it should feel. But a good latch should not feel painful.
Look and listen when your baby is nursing. Your baby will start off with rapid sucks to stimulate your milk flow and once the milk starts flowing, the baby will suck more slowly and deeply. You will hear and see the pauses when your baby swallows the milk.
How Do I Know if Baby is Latched on Properly? Here are a few signs of good breastfeeding latch.
- Circular movement in the jaw
- Your baby’s mouth opens wide around the breast, not just the nipple
- You can hear swallowing
- Chin is touching your breast
- When your baby comes off the breast, your nipple is not flattened
- Your baby ends the feeding satisfied
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9. Look for Signs of Trouble
Sometimes there are huge red flags that something is not right with your breastfeeding latch and the most common ones are:
- painful nursing
- cracked or bleeding nipples
- fussy baby
- back pain
- baby smacking when latched (this means your baby is becoming unlatched)
By knowing what the signs are that your baby is not latched properly for breastfeeding you can seek help from a lactation consultant and have them checked out.
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