To help you understand if your latch is effective during your first days of breastfeeding, here are some signs:
- Although you might feel some gentle tugging or mild sensitivity as your baby begins to milk your breasts, overall breastfeeding should be comfortable. There should be no pain, or just a little pain, and only for the first few days as your baby begins to feed. Read about What a Good Latch Feels Like to learn more.
- Your baby has a mouthful of breast tissue, particularly near his lower jaw, and isn't latched onto just the nipple. In other words, more of your areola is showing near his top lip than his bottom lip.
- Your baby's mouth opens wide just before you bring him onto your breast. So his mouth isn't clamped or pinching your breast.
- His top and bottom lips are "flanged" out, meaning he isn't sucking in his lips.
- His cheeks look normal, not dimpled or drawn in as though he was sucking from a straw.
- You don't hear any lip smacking, as if the seal isn't good. While some clicking sounds can be normal, lip smacking shouldn't be possible if your nipple is far enough back in his mouth.
Many moms often experience some nipple pain when they begin breastfeeding despite having a good latch. If the pain is slight, carry on and it should disappear in a few days. If the pain is excruciating, follow the care plan for sore nipples. Even if the pain is tolerable and improving, you can follow a modified version of the care plan to give your nipples time to heal.
Tips for success
- If the latch doesn't feel good, it probably isn't good. Take your baby off your breast and try re-latching.
- Aim to get as much of your breast into his mouth as possible, so more than just the tip of your breast or nipple, particularly near the lower lip.
- Ensure that both his top and bottom lips are flanged out and not curled in.
Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)