The Truth About Latching and Your Newborn

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Young mother breastfeeding her newborn baby boy at home

Breastfeeding can be one of the most challenging parts of becoming a new mom. Nursing is a fulfilling journey but can have some trials and tribulations in the beginning. Learning how to get a successful latch with your newborn is the key to successful breastfeeding. 

Without a proper latch, your baby will not be able to receive the milk they need, thus causing a dip in your milk supply because of a lack of demand. A poor latch can also cause cracked and sore nipples-overall creating a frustrating experience for both momma and baby. 

Despite what some may say, your newborn is not born with the skill of knowing how to latch correctly. Getting the proper latch can take time and practice for both you and baby. 

There are so many things new parents have to worry about. From traveling with kids to tummy time, we have you covered.

Twin Cities Kids Club is here to give you the truth about latching and what to expect from your newborn. Join today!

Loving mom breastfeeding her newborn baby. Bright portrait of happy mum holding infant child on arms. Mother feeding her 2 months old son by breast milk.

Baby’s Hunger Cues

Your baby will show you different hunger cues to signal to you that they are ready to eat. They may suck on their tongue, fist, fingers. They will root around searching for a nipple. Fussing and fidgeting can also be an indicator that the baby is ready to eat. 

When they start crying, this is a late hunger cue and can make breastfeeding more challenging to begin because the baby is already worked up. Watch and learn your baby’s hunger cues, as each baby is a little different. It is important to note that pacifiers, mittens, and swaddling can inhibit their hunger cues because their hands and mouth are restricted. 

Young woman breastfeeding her baby in bedroom

Tips for Latching

A proper latch is crucial for successful breastfeeding.

  • Find a supportive but comfortable position to sit. A comfortable seat will reduce any strain from your shoulders, neck, and back. 
  • Use either a breastfeeding pillow or a regular pillow to help support your baby. A quality breastfeeding pillow can make a substantial difference in ensuring you get your baby in the correct position to get a proper latch. 
  • Ensure that you and baby are tummy-to-tummy.
  • Instead of moving your body to your baby, make sure you bring them towards you. Bringing them to you ensures that they remain in the correct position and decrease strain on your back.
  • Keeping your baby aligned will make it easier for them to swallow. Keep the baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip in alignment. 
  • To make it easier for baby to latch, grab your breast with your hand in either a “C” or “U” shape far from the nipple to keep from interfering with baby’s latch. 
  • Gently brush your nipple on the top of the baby’s lips to get them to open their mouth.
  • Ensure that your baby’s head is slightly tilted, and their chin is not on their chest. 
  • Once the baby’s mouth is open wide, the chin is tilted, and the tongue is down, he/she should latch. If they do not latch or mouth is not open wide enough, try again. Do not try to wiggle your baby’s mouth open. 
  • To get a good latch, try to get as much of the areola (the darker area around the nipple) into your baby’s mouth. 
  • If there is a successful latch, the baby’s top and bottom lips should be flanged out (like a fish). If they are not, you can use your finger to either try to flange them out or break the seal and try once more. 

Young mother feeding breast. She is using a nursing pillow with the baby on side

Positions for Feeding

There are many different types of positions that you can use to feed your baby. Just make sure to find a position that is comfortable for both you and baby. Then use the tips above to make sure that your baby latches correctly. 

Cross-Cradle Hold 

This position can be the most helpful to brand new moms until they gain more confidence in their breastfeeding. The cross-cradle allows you to use both of your hands more effectively to make sure your baby is latched correctly. 

You will use the opposite arm from the side you will be feeding on to hold your baby. Then you will use the hand from the side you are feeding on to manipulate the breast and nipple to help baby get a proper latch. 

Laying your baby on you, tummy-to-tummy, you will use the hand opposite of the side you are feeding on to support the baby’s neck. Holding their neck will allow you to guide the baby’s head to the nipple. Next, use the hand (from the same side you are feeding) to maneuver the nipple into the baby’s open mouth. 

Once the baby has successfully latched, you can switch to cradling the baby. 

Cradle Hold

In the cradle hold, lay your newborn across your abdomen, with their tummy and chest facing your breast. Hold your baby’s head in the crook of your elbow on the side you plan to nurse. Then take your opposite hand to help hold and adjust your breast to get baby latched. 

Football Hold

The football hold is an excellent hold for a mom who just had a cesarean birth, multiples, or larger breasts. 

This position is how it sounds; you will hold your baby as if they were a football on the side that you plan to feed. Your baby’s bottom will be resting in the crook of your elbow while you use your hand to support their neck and guide their head to your nipple. 

Adjust baby’s legs and bend them at the hip so they can not push against the surface you are resting on, as this can interfere with the latch. 

Side-lying

In this position, you and baby will lay on your sides facing one another, their nose in line with your nipple. You can take a pillow and place it behind your baby for support. You may want to put a pillow between your knees or behind your back for comfort and support as well. 

It’s crucial to find a position that is comfortable for both you and your baby. If you are not comfortable in a particular position, try another. 

Mother is breastfeeding her kid sitting against light window background. Mom is suckling baby boy at home

Signs of a Correct Latch

  • When the bottom lip is moved the tongue will be seen 
  • The jaw will move in circular motions
  • No audible clicking or smacking noise 
  • Swallowing sounds 
  • No discomfort 
  • Baby’s chin touches your breast 

Remember that breastfeeding is a learning process and should not be painful. A proper latch can minimize any discomfort, and keep things like cracked and sore nipples from happening. Once you get the hang of breastfeeding, it is a magical, painless, bonding experience for you and your baby. 

Join Twin Cities Kids Club today for more tips for new moms!

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