How to get the perfect latch when breastfeeding

A baby latching and breastfeeding

Finding the perfect latch can feel impossible, especially in the early days. But with practice (and a few helpful pointers), it’ll become second nature to you *and* your baby.

Ah, the latch. It may seem like everyone else gets it right first time but, for many mothers, it can feel elusive, especially when you’re new to breastfeeding or getting to know your baby. The simple truth is that expressing is a skill. And skills take time. This is one that you and your baby have to feel out together.

What does latching mean?

‘Latching on’ is when your baby attaches to your breast and feeds. It’s important to find a good latch and suction so that your baby is able to get as much milk and nutrients as they need from you. It’ll also stop your nipples from getting sore and cracked while feeding…ouch!

A good latch will also help ensure that your boobs get emptied properly, so your flow stays strong and painful blockages and mastitis are kept at bay.

How do you get a good latch when breastfeeding?

Find a good breastfeeding position

First things first, let’s think about you. Are you comfy? Pop for a wee, then sit yourself down, bolster yourself with pillows and make sure you’re able to relax. Have a big glass or a bottle of water on hand…feeding is thirsty work and you’ll need to make sure you rehydrate throughout.

There are lots of different positions you can use for nursing: you might want to try the cradle hold, lie-back hold, or feed on your side.

Whichever position you choose, make sure both you and your baby are settled before you focus on finding a latch.

How to get your baby to latch

Everyone’s experience of breastfeeding will be different, but there are a few steps that can help you find a latch that works:

  1. Hold your baby close, so their nose is front of your nipple.
  1. Let their head tip back so their lip brushes your nipple and wait until they open their mouth wide.
  1. Bring their open mouth to to your nipple. Their chin should be touching your breast and their nose should be clear, so they can breathe easily while latching on.

Their lips should be pursed outwards and their cheeks will look cute and rounded as they feed. All of your nipple and most of the darker areola should be in their mouth.

If you feel any pain or the latch isn’t comfortable, break suction by gently pushing your little finger between the corner of your baby’s mouth and your nipple and pushing down. Now try over and see if you can get a better connection.

Still struggling to latch?

If breastfeeding still doesn’t feel right and you’re having a hard time finding a strong latch, chat with a nurse or lactation consultant. They may be able to offer more personalised tips, or advise as to whether there’s another physical problem that’s making it tricky for your baby to feed. Issues like tongue tie or flat nipples can present challenges but, with help, can be overcome. Keep persevering!

Find out more top tips and advice over in the Wren Nest.