The New Latch
The key to successful breastfeeding, which is both comfortable and efficient, is how well your baby latches on to the breast. For years lactation professionals have been working on methods to achieve the best latch. We finally realized that babies have known this all along. The new latch works with babies' instincts and helps him put them into practice.
What Babies Do
When babies come to the breast, they tilt their heads back as they open their mouths wide, like a yawn, and stick their tongues out. This means that your nipple has to be above the baby's top lip or he will over shoot his target.
Many mothers hold their babies with their heads in the crook of their arms. This usually puts baby's mouth well above the nipple and makes it virtually impossible to latch on. Pulling the breast over to the baby is inefficient as well and often leads to sore nipples as the baby pulls the breast in one direction.
Your baby needs to latch on to the breast with his mouth opened wide. Feeling your nipple between his nose and upper lip and your breast on his mouth and chin prompts him to open up. It also gives him direction. He needs to feel the breast to know where it is. Once he gapes, pull him quickly on to you so he gets a big mouthful of breast.
Positioning your baby as described above will result in an asymmetrical latch, with his top lip just above your nipple and his bottom jaw covering much of the areola below the nipple. This is exactly what you want. Babies use their tongues and bottom jaws to nurse. The more breast he scoops up from underneath the more efficiently he will eat. It is also more comfortable for you.
Tips For Helping Your Baby Latch On
Hold baby snuggly against your body. The better supported he is the more he can concentrate on breastfeeding.
Position him so your nipple touches him between his upper lip and nose and his chin is touching your breast. This may be easier using the hand opposite the breast you are using. Support your baby's head from the nape of his neck in the web between your thumb and first finger.
Bring the baby to the breast, not the breast to the baby. If your breast is very large you can support it by putting a rolled up washcloth or small blanket underneath.
Once your baby opens his mouth wide, like a yawn, pull him on to the breast in one movement. Don't center the nipple in his mouth. You want his chin to touch the breast first and his nose will either lightly touch the breast or won't touch at all.
Keep your hand and fingers off of the back of your baby's head. Pushing on his head works against his instinct to tilt his head back.
Keep baby's body snuggled close to yours the whole time he nurses.
If it hurts, something's wrong. Take him off and try again.
These tips apply for any position that you choose including lying side by side.
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