Breastfeeding 101: Latching on Explained
Breastfeeding can be a beautiful experience for some mothers but getting started can also be very difficult. New moms and their newborn babies have to both figure out the mechanics of breastfeeding and that can be hard. Don’t worry, though. With perseverance (and sometimes help from an experienced mother or professional lactation consultant) you and your baby can enjoy the priceless experience of breastfeeding.
What is Latching On?
One of the most difficult parts of breastfeeding is getting the hang of latching on. Latching on is the way your baby positions her mouth when she is nursing. Without a good latch, your baby won’t be able to nurse properly, and it might even cause you pain.
What Makes a Good Latch?
The goal for latching on is for your baby’s mouth to surround your entire nipple and a good portion of your areola. Her chin and nose should be touching your breast while she is nursing. When this happens, your baby is able to nurse because her gums compress the entire area which starts the milk flow. If your baby isn’t latched onto the entire area, she will try to nurse but not enough milk will flow. Your nipple will become very sore and your baby will be hungry.
Helping your baby to have a good latch takes some practice for both of you. There are a few things that you can do that will make the process much easier.
- Hold your baby in the right position so her mouth is directly in front of your nipple and areola.
- Hold your breast with a finger where your baby’s chin will sit and a thumb lining up with your baby’s nose.
- Gently compress your breast so your nipple and areola push out slightly.
- Bring your baby’s mouth towards your breast.
- Stroke her cheek to trigger her instinctive reaction to look for your nipple (this instinct is called the rooting reflex).
- When her mouth opens, bring her gently onto your breast so she can latch on.
What if it Isn’t Working?
Breastfeeding can be frustrating, especially for new moms who are tired and sore. Ask your partner to help by looking at your baby’s position on your breast from a different point of view. Sometimes a slight change in angle is all it takes. If it still doesn’t work, ask an experienced mom or lactation consultant to help you out.
Bottles and Breastfeeding
If you plan to continue breastfeeding, do not try to introduce bottles for a few months. Once you and your baby are comfortable with latching on and nursing in general, you can then start to introduce a bottle. Whether you pump milk or use formula for the occasions when you will be using bottles, you should check out the award-winning Baby Blendy anti-colic baby bottle blender system. It gently mixes either breastmilk or formula in order to decrease the amount of bubbles that could get trapped in your baby’s tummy. Avoiding bubbles helps your baby stay happier and more comfortable.
Breastfeeding is difficult to figure out at first, but once you do it can be an easy and convenient way to feed your baby. Whether you are struggling with breastfeeding, have figured things out or have switched to formula, know that you are doing the best for your baby.
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