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Latching


Get set up

How to get ready to breast-feed

Find a position that is comfortable for both you and your baby. Have a glass of water nearby. Sit up with your back supported. Use one or more pillows to provide extra support for your arms and for the baby's position. Using a footstool will help you keep a good position.

Position your baby

How to position your baby

Make sure the baby's head and body are lined up straight. For this position, you and your baby should be tummy to tummy. Your baby's nose should be right in front of your nipple.

Support your breast

How to support your breast

Support and narrow your breast with one hand using a "U hold," with your thumb on the outer side of your breast and your fingers on the inner side. You can also use a "C hold," with all your fingers below the nipple and your thumb above it. Try the different holds to get the deepest latch for whichever breast-feeding position you use. Your other arm should be behind your baby's back, with your hand supporting the base of the baby's head. Position your fingers and thumb to point toward your baby's ears.

Baby opens mouth

How to get the baby to latch on

You can touch your baby's lower lip with your nipple to get your baby to open his or her mouth. Wait until your baby opens up really wide, like a big yawn. Then be sure to bring the baby quickly to your breast—not your breast to the baby. As you bring your baby toward your breast, use your other hand to support your breast and guide it into his or her mouth.

Baby latches on

Baby's lips flare out

Both the nipple and a large portion of the darker area around the nipple (areola) should be in the baby's mouth. The baby's lips should be flared outward, not folded in (inverted).

Be sure the baby is latched on correctly

Proper latch on

Listen for a regular sucking and swallowing pattern while the baby is feeding. If you cannot see or hear a swallowing pattern, watch the baby's ears, which will wiggle slightly when the baby swallows. If the baby's nose appears to be blocked by your breast, tilt the baby's head back slightly, so that just the edge of one nostril is clear for breathing.

Cradle and breast-feed your baby

How to cradle the baby while breast-feeding

After your baby is latched, you can usually remove your hand from supporting your breast and bring it under your baby to cradle him or her. Now just relax and breast-feed your baby.

Break the latch when baby is finished

How to break the latch

When your baby is done breast-feeding, you can break the latch by using your pinky finger. Place one finger into the corner of his or her mouth. This will gently break the seal.

You can also use your pinky to break the latch if you experience pain after your baby first latches on, and then you can start again.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMary Robbins, RNC, IBCLC - Lactation Consultant
Last RevisedApril 3, 2013

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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