Before having a baby, likely, you never thought much of the word “latch.” Then, when you’re pregnant, it may pop in here or there, but by birth, if you’re breastfeeding, it’s all about latch and supply. Without a proper latch, you can’t have an adequate supply, so let’s dive into breastfeeding latch.
Signs of a Shallow Latch
After two weeks, pain should subside, and breastfeeding should not be painful. Pain is a significant indicator of a poor latch.
Cracked or Bleeding Nipples
Cracked or bleeding nipples, alone, can cause pain, but they are also an indicator of an incompetent latch.
Sometimes a lousy latch can create a clicking sound. That clicking or smacking sound is because baby cannot hold a good latch, so baby continuously readjusts and, in a way, relatches with each suck.
Pinched Nipple After Feeding
If your nipple holds the form as if it has been pinched post-feeding, that means your baby likely hasn’t taken enough of the breast in the mouth and is thus sucking on only the nipple when you also want the areola in the baby’s mouth.
Milk Supply Decreasing
As mentioned earlier, a decreased milk supply is also an indicator of a poor latch. You need a good latch to create a stable supply. If you experience a decreasing supply, you may want to check for signs of a good latch and cross-check them against a shallow latch’s symptoms to see if that’s potentially causing the decreasing supply.
Signs of a Good Latch
Baby’s mouth should be open wide, and mama should wait to bring baby to breast until baby’s mouth is open wide.
Lips Flared Out
Think of a fish, your baby’s lips should be flared out like a fish, rather than be turned inward toward the breast. If the lips flare out, you should be able to see your baby’s lips when latched.
Chin Touching Breast
Baby’s chin should touch the breast. You can help position baby’s head to touch the breast in this way by supporting baby’s head with a c-shaped hand behind the neck and head.
Lined Up: Ear, Shoulder, Hip
Baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip should be in line with one another: do this by making sure that baby’s stomach is pressed comfortably up against mama’s belly. Once you do this, you should see a formed line from your latched baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip.
How to Improve Latch
Take a Breastfeeding Course
Through following the guidelines outlined above, you can and will improve your latch. If you are still struggling, consider a consultation.
Make breastfeeding a comfortable experience. Gather pillows, sit in your favorite chair, relax in bed—by getting comfortable, you’re more likely to create an environment conducive to supporting a proper latch.
Bring Baby to You
You should never hunch over to bring the breast to baby; instead, your arm and hand (supporting the neck) should bring baby to you and your breast. Breastfeeding, especially with newborns, can take a relatively long time. If you’re hunched over, you’ll develop backache and potential problems over time.
For some babies and mamas, practice is key. There’s nothing wrong with trying multiple times in one nursing session to get a good latch.
Skin-to-skin contact does wonders on both emotional and physical levels for both mama and baby.
Normalcy & Help
Horrible Pain is Never Normal
In the first several weeks, it is common to experience discomfort, sensitivities, and slight pain because of breastfeeding frequency, but never should you ever experience face-cringing, toe-curling pain at any point in your breastfeeding journey. If you experience awful pain, you need to reach out for help.
Get Expert Help
You’re welcome to reach out to me at any time. Schedule your consultation here.