10 positioning and latching tips for breastfeeding

breastfeeding baby latched onto mom's breast

1.  It’s important that mom is comfortable. For an upright feeding position, use a supportive pillow. Remember to have back support.

2.  Bring baby to you. Don’t hunch over baby as it can cause pain and be detrimental to your neck and back.

3.  Take a deep breath before positioning baby. This helps relax you and baby relaxes, too.

4.  Try to vary nursing positions. It takes practice to get into these positions, but well worth the awkward learning!

  • While you and baby are still learning to breast feed, I like the cross-cradle position.
  • When more confident and no discomfort, you can transition to cradle hold.
  • The football hold is also a good position to try when baby is newborn. As baby grows, discomfort can happen from baby kicking.
  • Try the side lying position. Some moms also like the laid back (also called biological) nursing position.

5.  Bring baby nose-to-nipple so baby can reach up, chin first to breast. This helps relax baby’s jaw and attain an asymmetric latch.

6.  If baby’s latch doesn’t feel right or you have pain lasting more than 10 seconds, detach baby and try again. Don’t compromise good latching. Nipple damage from poor latching takes a while to heal.

7.  Detach baby safely by putting pinky or finger with a shorter nail into side of baby’s mouth and listen for suction to break, then pull baby away from you. Do not pull nipple out of baby’s mouth. It can cause damage along the shaft of the nipple and cause discomfort.

8.  If struggling to get baby to latch for the first time, hold baby skin-to-skin. Babies regulate their heart beats, breathing, blood sugar and metabolism on mom and dad. Mom holding baby skin to skin facilitates latching. You can also get baby into a sucking rhythm on your clean finger and then transfer baby over to breast.

9.  Compare your position with this visual of baby’s position when approaching breast.

mother's view while latching baby

10.  Check these signs of a good latch:

  • Baby’s mouth opens wide.
  • Baby’s lips are curled out (flanged) and cover about 1 to 1.5 inches of area below the nipple. This may be less for a small or premature baby.
  • Baby’s lower lip covers more of the areola than the upper lip.
  • Baby’s chin is pressed into the breast.
  • Baby’s cheeks appear to be full and rounded (not dimpling in).
  • Baby’s mouth does not slip off the breast.
  • Baby is supported in chest-to-chest position and baby’s neck is not turned.
  • Mom feels a tugging sensation without pain.
  • Baby shows signs of sucking and swallowing breast milk.

– Dennette Fend, RNc, WHNP, IBCLC, runs the Beaumont Breastfeeding Services in Rochester Hills. To learn more about the clinic and how to make an appointment, view this flyer.

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