When perfecting your latch, there are three easy steps that can help you achieve comfortable and successful breastfeeding. I call these steps, “my latch mantra”, and this is how it goes…
1. Nose to nipple – This seems counterproductive, that is until you think about it. When you are positioning your baby the goal is to line up baby’s sweet nose with your nipple. Your nipple will still end up in baby’s mouth, I promise. If your nipple is above baby’s mouth s/he will need to open up nice and wide and also slightly tip his/her head back, and that is exactly what we want! Be mindful that you are not just moving your breast, really you need to scoot baby’s entire body for this to work.
2. Boob sandwich – I am a firm believer in the power of a good boob sandwich. The objective here is to shape the areola in such a way that it will match the shape of baby’s mouth and promote a nice deep latch (meaning there is plenty of breast in baby’s mouth). Consider how you eat a big sandwich: in order to get the best bite, you hold and compress that sandwich so you can get it all in your mouth. To create a boob sandwich for baby, start by positioning your thumb directly across from baby’s nose on the edge of the areola. Your fingers will be on the other side of the areola, but you may have to move them further back so they are not touching the areola. The boob sandwich can also be used to get your nipple pointing towards the roof of baby’s mouth by gently compressing and pulling back on your skin with your thumb so that your nipple is pointing up. For the first week or two, you will usually find that you need to maintain a grip on your boob sandwich at least until baby is really in a rhythm (30 seconds to a minute) and maybe even for the entire feeding.
3. Smash him/her on – As baby is learning how to breastfeed you will find that little mouth does not stay open wide for very long so you will need to be quick when getting baby latched on. So when that little mouth is open wide, quickly and firmly bring baby’s head to your breast with your hand. Be mindful that you not trying to bring your breast down to baby, but bringing baby’s head to your breast because you will have more control of aim and speed. Your goal is to bring baby’s chin up to the breast first and then bring the upper lip over the nipple, all as quick as possible.
It definitely takes practice to get that comfortable latch, but keep this mantra in mind and you will get it!