Latching Tips

One of the most frequent consultation requests that I get is for help with latching. Latching is not always an intuitive process for mom or for baby, and a shallow latch can lead quite quickly to nipple pain and damage after just a few feeding sessions.  I have developed a step by step process for helping moms to confidently help their baby get a deep, pain free latch.   First, please watch these videos to understand what you are trying to achieve.

This one is cool because it shows how the nipple is positioned in baby’s mouth.

Flipple technique for deep latch:

Colette’s Step by Step tips for latching a newborn:

1) Skin to skin Start by being skin to skin with baby. Undress baby down to the diaper and have your skin touching him (usually your upper abdomen touching baby’s chest and abdomen).

2) One straight line Turn baby’s body so that baby’s neck, back and legs are in one straight line.  You don’t want baby lying on their back and having to turn their head to the side to feed.

3) Nipple to nose.  You actually want baby’s nose lined up with your nipple so that baby has to tip their head back and then open their lower jaw to latch. This allows your nipple to slide along the roof of baby’s mouth, in the proper position.

4) Support side of head Support baby using your open hand under the side of their head cupped under their ear, or under their neck. Do not touch the back of baby’s head because it can cause a newborn to reflexively arch back, away from the nipple.

5) Open wide! Wait till baby relaxes and opens their mouth a little, then help them open wide by gently pushing down on baby’s chin with your finger or your breast itself (while holding your breast with finger and thumb) to get baby to open really wide (see flipple video above). 

6) Latching on their own Now let baby arch forwards and latch on. You can guide their head with your hand and you can guide the breast into the mouth, but remember don’t push baby onto the breast.

7) Flip the lips Check that baby’s upper lip and lower lip are flanged out like a fish mouth. If not, gently flip them out with your finger.  You should be able to see the inner, wet part of the lip touching your breast.

8) Check the latch Look at the angle of the corner of baby’s lips. It should be at least 90 degrees (corner of a square) but ideally closer to 120 degrees. If it’s not, then use your hand to you’re your breast and try to lever more breast tissue into the lower jaw.  If baby doesn’t get deep enough then take them off (use pinky in corner of baby’s mouth to break the suction), and try again.