Breastfeeding: Mastering the perfect latch

Follow these latching-on tips to make the most of your nursing experience.

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A hungry baby will instinctively turn his head towards your nipple with his mouth open — known as the rooting reflex. The key to a good breastfeeding relationship and for you and bubs to experience more together is to get your baby comfortably latched on. To begin, both you and your baby need to find a comfortable and relaxed position — read up on our guide to breastfeeding positions.

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Position your baby nose to nipple, so he can tilt his head back and extend his neck. This allows him to take a big-enough mouthful of breastmilk and swallow easily. His body should be in a straight line — with him lying on his side and not on his back — and facing your breast.

Bring your baby to your breast and lightly stroke his mouth with your nipple, encouraging him to open wide, like he’s yawning. Then roll the underside of your breast into his mouth and onto his tongue, which pushes his lower jaw to open wider. Your nipple will be the last part of the breast to enter your mini-me’s mouth, reaching to the back where it triggers active sucking.

You know it’s a good latch when…

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• Your baby’s mouth is wide open and his bottom lip is curled back towards his chin.
• His mouth covers the dark skin around your nipple (the areola).
• His jaw moves and the tips of his ears wiggle as he suckles. You’ll hear him gulp as he swallows. You might feel a tingling sensation as he draws on your nipple and milk begins to flow (also known as the “let down” reflex).
• Your baby is producing at least six wet nappies a day.


You know it’s a poor latch when
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• You hear a clicking noise as he sucks in air, not milk.
• His cheeks are sucked in. They’ll be full if he is feeding properly.
• You feel pain throughout feeding, rather than just the initial slight soreness.
• Your breasts don’t feel lighter or softer and he seems unsettled after feeds.

Photo: INGimage

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