Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beautiful parts of motherhood. Sometimes, it can feel anything but. It can be incredibly difficult and hard on the mom if the baby is having a difficult time latching on. Don’t worry, we put together a little guide to help your baby latch on and get the nourishment they need.
Preparing for Breastfeeding
The best way to ease your pain and make sure your baby is being fed is to practice. Practicing is difficult when your baby hasn’t come yet, and you have no way of knowing if you are doing it “right.” In order to properly prepare to breastfeed, many women choose to take breastfeeding classes. These classes are facilitated by mothers and physicians who can help you learn the proper techniques and tricks to pain-free breastfeeding.
In addition, once the baby has come, you can also hire a lactation consultant. There are often lactation consultants right in hospitals, so they are easily accessible for new moms. If you feel your baby is not latching properly after the first day or two, try contacting a lactation consultant. They will guide you and your baby through the process in a hands-on manner.
What is Latching?
Latching is the key for you and your baby. Your breasts produce milk on an “as-needed” basis. Essentially this means that the more your baby drinks, the more milk you will produce. If your baby does not get a good enough latch your body will not provide enough milk and then the baby won’t get enough food. With a proper latch your baby will get enough food, and you will produce enough milk. This ensures that the baby gets enough nourishment and that mom is not in pain.
In order to get a good latch, it is essential that you know what latch means. When a baby latches it means that they are stimulating the milk glands enough that the milk is coming out. How do they do this? Through the suckling motion on the nipple and aereola. That’s right, they need to suckle on the areola and the nipple, not just the nipple.
While the milk actually comes out of the nipple, the glands that produce milk are right under the areola. So if the baby is just sucking on the nipple nothing is going to come out. Think about it, why do the areolas get so dark when you move closer to your due date? It’s because baby’s are not born knowing how to breastfeed. Biology designed your areolas are a visual cue (like a bullseye) so your baby will know to close their mouth around the entire area and not just the nipple.
Signs Baby Isn’t Latching Correctly
So how exactly do you know that the baby has latched on to the nipple and the areola? A proper latch has the baby’s chin and nose touching your breast. Your baby will also have their lips around your entire areola instead of just the nipple. Once the baby has found a good latch they will begin the suck, swallow, breathe rhythm naturally.
If you feel nipple pain it is likely because your baby is chewing on your nipple. In addition, if you hear soft “clicking noises” your baby is likely sucking in air from your nipple. Essentially, according to What to Expect “If your baby is fussing, chewing, rooting and gaping, turning red, or making clicking sounds, chances baby’s getting a mouthful of boob and air instead of milk.”
How to Get Baby to Latch
If you are having trouble getting the baby to latch onto the entire areola, make sure to re-latch the baby. Don’t just allow them to suckle on the nipple alone. Not only will this frustrate them, but this can cause you pain in the end. To get the baby to relatch stick your finger in the corner of their mouth to release the air pressure. This will cause your baby to let go, so you can try guiding them again.
In order to get your baby to latch you will need to:
- Position your baby in a good nursing position
- Hold your breast with your thumb above your areola and your pointer-finger at the bottom of your areola
- Squish the breast a little to make sure it is puckered for them to grasp
- Bring your baby’s face towards your breast, and rub your nipple against their mouth
- Once they widely open their mouth gently guide your breast into their mouth
If they do not get it the first time, detach them and relatch them until they can get a good latch.
Tips to Help with Latching
Latching is essential, but it can be difficult for some baby’s to get the hang of it. The proper position is a great way to aid your baby’s latching. Sometimes it is hard for them to understand what they are supposed to do, so making sure they understand the task at hand by creating the proper position is a great tip.
You want to make sure you and your baby are comfortable at all times during the breastfeeding process. One of the most comfortable ways to do this is with a breastfeeding pillow. These pillows are donut shaped and are designed to go around your stomach. You lay the baby on the pillow and it props their head up towards your breast. This makes it super comfortable and easy for both mom and baby.
Another great way to ensure a smooth breastfeeding process is with a nursing bra. Nursing bras are an easy way to stay supported and make sure your baby has easy access when hungry. The fabric that holds your breast in place can be clipped up to support your breasts. Or it can be clipped down so your nipple and areola are visible.
Your Postpartum Body
You went through a lot of changes while pregnant, and unfortunately those changes aren’t done just yet. Along with breastfeeding can come breast tenderness, as well as muscle aches in your back, wrists, and shoulders. These can all be helped with a little attention to your posture and positioning while feeding.
You can also ease back pain and abdominal pain with a Bellefit postpartum girdle. These compression garments help ease pain by creating a light compression that lessens any pain. When you use a postpartum girdle you not only help pain, but you can get back to feeling your confident self once again.
We hope this has been helpful for you to learn how to get a baby to latch.