StorkNet > StorkNet Site Map > Breastfeeding > Breastfeeding Articles
Positioning and Latch-On
by Elaine Moran, author of BonAppetit Baby!
Proper positioning and latch-on are probably the most important aspects of a successful breastfeeding relationship. Once you have mastered positioning your baby correctly, and your baby has learned how to latch on properly, you're on your way. Just remember that some babies take longer than others to learn the skill of latching-on. It's a matter of trial and error and plenty of practice. Eventually, like riding a bicycle, you will both know when it "feels right." It is important that you are relaxed and comfortable, and that your baby is in the mood for nursing. If your baby seems frantic or upset when he attempts to latch on your breast, calm and comfort him before trying again. If you are still having difficulty upon leaving the hospital, contact a lactation specialist to arrange for an immediate home visit.
Your baby is correctly latched onto the breast when he takes the nipple and a large portion of the areola in his mouth. As your baby opens wide and draws your breast into his mouth, he elongates the breast tissue as the nipple is positioned far back in his mouth-away from the friction of the tongue and gums. His lips are tightly sealed and flanged outward over your breast creating suction, and the tip of his nose and chin are both gently touching your breast. The movement of his lower jaw compresses the milk sinuses under the areola sending milk out through the tiny holes in the nipple and depositing it in the back of your baby's mouth. You know your baby is latched-on properly if it does not hurt when your baby takes long drawing sucks and he can be heard swallowing.
When your baby does not draw enough of the areola into his mouth and sucks only on the nipple he is not latched on properly. Your baby's tongue or gums will continually rub the sensitive skin of the nipple while sucking, and sore nipples will result. In addition, an improper latch-on makes it extremely difficult for your baby to extract enough milk from your breast to get the nourishment he needs.
Copyright © 2000 Treasured Child Publications, LLC. All rights reserved. Our thanks to Elaine Moran for giving StorkNet permission to reprint her work. This excerpt is from Bon Appétit Baby! The Breastfeeding Kit. For more information, visit Elaine's website at http://www.bonappetitbaby.com/.
If you like this article, we'd be honored if you shared it using the button below.