Latching is the first step and the most crucial step of breastfeeding. A good latch is very important for a good feeding and is responsible for a strong bond between a mother and her baby.
While feeding her baby, a mother must always be aware of signs of hunger such as irritation, sucking fingers and toes, and continuous swallowing by the baby. Do not wait for the baby to cry since it is a very late sign of hunger. Also, do not use pacifiers, as they mask the signs of hunger.
A Proper Latch
Before breastfeeding, a mother needs to get into a comfortable position as feeding may take 5 minutes to an hour. Use cushions to support the back to prevent it from getting strained. Not only will it help with the back, it will also help the baby to latch properly. To start feeding, bring the baby towards the nipple; do not bend towards the baby, as it will result in a poor latch and will hurt in the process.
Holding your breast in a “U” shape will help the baby with good latching, as shown in the image. It also makes it easy for the baby to latch on. Keep hands 2 inches away from the nipple. Support the neck of the baby with hand and gently bring the baby towards the breast.
Aim your nipple towards the upper lip of the baby and not towards the center. If the baby does not latch on the breast, try rubbing the nipple on its upper lip. This way the baby’s head will tilt back. If the baby does not open its mouth, do not force it in but instead gently rub breast against its mouth. Squeezing a little milk out and then rubbing will also help the baby open its mouth.
Make sure that mother and the baby are chest to chest with its nose slightly above the breast. As the baby latches on to the breast, ensure that the nipple and areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple) are in the baby’s mouth. This is considered to be a good latch!
How To Confirm If Your Latch Is Good?
There are a few signs to know if latching is right and the baby is getting a good feeding. The first sign is the lack of pain in breast and back; any discomfort that was present before feeding due to milk accumulation is likely to disappear.
There will be no movement in the lower jaw of the baby. Instead of an up and down movement, there will be circular movements in the baby’s mouth. With good latching, the baby will be relaxed. If the baby is still restless then the latch is not done properly and will have to be redone.
The cheeks of the baby will look full, its chin must rest on the breast, and nose must be free and above the breast. The baby does not make any noise except for swallowing. After the feeding, there will be no change in the shape of the nipple and the baby will look satisfied, any previous irritation disappears, and the baby might even fall asleep.
Different Positions For Breastfeeding
There are a number of different positions to feed your baby. The most commonly used position by mothers worldwide is the Cradle Hold Position. It is considered to be the easiest and the most convenient breastfeeding position. Here, the mother sits comfortably with the baby cradled on the arm that is on the same side as the breast on which the baby is latched on.
Another commonly used position is the Laid-back breastfeeding position. It is also known as the ‘nurturing position’. In this position, a mother can lie back comfortably while the baby lies on the abdomen of the mother. Sometimes during prolonged feeding, it may cause back pain.
Another position that can also be used is the Side-lying Position. Here, the mother lays on her side with the baby on the bed and latched onto her breast. This is an easy position and comfortable especially for night time feedings. In this position, the mother has one of her hands-free to use in case she needs it.
Another position is the Cross-cradle position. This position is similar to the Cradle Hold position. The only difference is that the arm that holds the baby in position is on the opposite side of the breast to which the baby is latched.
Mothers have also been known to use the Football or underarm Position. It is not as common, though it is frequently used. In this position, the mother sits comfortably with the baby tucked under the arm on the same side of the breast she is using to feed her baby. One arm is holding the baby in position while the other is holding the breast in a “U” hold.
Right Position For You
There are many other positions that vary from mother to mother and baby to baby. Mothers should choose the one that is most comfortable and convenient for her and the baby. Sometimes a mother might use a position, not because it is comfortable, but because she thinks it is the right position. This is not true, because any position that is not comfortable might cause back pain and is not right.
The right position for mother and baby is the one where she is comfortable, which is evident via a good latch and a growing, healthy baby.
A good latch is crucial for the feeding and growth of the baby. If there is a problem in feeding baby, seek help from a doctor or a midwife. They are bound to guide in the right manner!