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Breastfeeding Practices--Latching on and Feeding Tips

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Last week I wrote about the early stages of breastfeeding, and the signs preparation that often takes place before breastfeeding. Now we are ready for some tips on proper latch and feeding.

To obtain a deep and effective latch, correct positioning between mother and baby is necessary. If mom is sitting in a chair, placing a small stool or some books underneath her feet will raise the knees and help position her baby. Also, having pillows available will provide additional support for her arms or back.

At first, it may be helpful for mothers to support their breast with a hand while the baby is learning to latch. One hand may be placed on the back of the infant’s head while the other is slightly squeezing or manipulating the breast to achieve the best fit. This method may need to be continued until this latch is achieved on its own.

How do you know if your baby is latching on correctly? Well, as we know, all babies are different and unique in their own way. There are some indicators that will help assure a proper latch and feeding though. Commonly, a baby’s nose will rest right above the nipple, allowing more of the bottom portion of the areola (area around the nipple) in his mouth. This is called an asymmetrical latch. The lips will flare as the mouth is opened wide. A smooth rhythm of sucking and swallowing should be seen along with movement of the ears and jaw. The baby will initially suck quickly until the milk is released, then sucking will be slower, deeper, and stronger as milk is consumed.

If the baby’s mouth is not opened very wide, only a small amount of breast is in the mouth, or you are experiencing pain, cracking, or bleeding, you might have an ineffective latch. A good, effective, sign is if the baby’s mouth is opened wide, lips flared, chin pressed into the breast, and you notice the ears or jaw moving.

Evidenced based tip: obesity might affect the hormone responses to suckling (lowered prolactin) and in turn negatively affect continued milk production. By encouraging early, frequent feedings milk production will continue to occur.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.