What Is a Breastfeeding Latch?

Definition, Techniques, and Information

Breastfeeding Latch
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What Is the Definition of a Breastfeeding Latch?

breastfeeding latch is how a baby attaches to his mother's  breast to breastfeed. The way your child latches on can determine how successful you will be at breastfeeding. A good breastfeeding latch allows your baby to remove the breast milk from your breast well so that he can get all the nutrition he needs to gain weight and grow at a consistent rate.

A Good Breastfeeding Latch

When your baby latches on to your breast, he should have your entire nipple and about an inch of the surrounding areola in his mouth. His tongue should be down, and his lips should be turned out against your breast. You should hear your baby swallowing, and you shouldn't hear any clicking or smacking sounds as he's sucking.  

Is it Painful to Latch a Baby Onto the Breast?

You may feel a little bit of nipple tenderness when your baby first latches on, and that's normal. But, in general, if your newborn's breastfeeding latch is correct, you shouldn't feel any pain when you breastfeed. 

Two Breastfeeding Latch Techniques

The Traditional Latch: The traditional latch is the most common latch technique. When you latch your baby on with a traditional latch, you attach your baby to your breast with his mouth centered around your nipple and areola. You should be able to see an equal amount of your areola showing around your little one's mouth.

The Asymmetrical Latch: When using an asymmetrical latch, you place your child's mouth off-center on your breast. The baby will have less of the areola in her mouth on the top side of your nipple so that you will see more areola showing near your baby's nose. On the underside of the nipple, she will take in more of the areola, so you will see less of it near her chin.

Breastfeeding Latch, Breast Milk Supply, and Breast Problems

A good breastfeeding latch is necessary to build and maintain a healthy supply of breast milk for your baby. If your newborn isn't latching on correctly and removing the breast milk from your breasts, it could cause your milk supply to go down. A poor latch can also lead to some of the common problems of breastfeeding such as sore nipplesbreast engorgementplugged milk ducts, and mastitis (a breast infection).

Where to Go For Help with Your Baby's Latch

You should ask for help with your breastfeeding latch from the very first time you breastfeed. If you deliver in a hospital, ask your nurse or the hospital's lactation professional to show you how to hold and position your baby and how to latch her on to your breast the right way. If you deliver at home, your doctor, midwife, doula, or support person can help you get breastfeeding off to a good start.

If, after a few days, your nipples become painfully sore, or you're not really sure whether or not your baby's breastfeeding latch is correct, get help as soon as possible.

Take your child to her health care provider for a weight check, and have your doctor, a breastfeeding specialist, or a local breastfeeding group evaluate the latch and help you get back on track. The sooner you have the breastfeeding latch corrected, the better it will be for your baby, your breasts, and your milk supply.

 

Sources

American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.

Newman, Jack, MD, Pitman, Theresa. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. Three Rivers Press. New York. 2006.

Righard L, Alade MO. Sucking technique and its effect on the success of breastfeeding. Birth. 1992 Dec 1;19(4):185-9.

Santo LC, De Oliveira LD, Giugliani ER. Factors associated with low incidence of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Birth. 2007 Sep 1;34(3):212-9.

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