How can I improve my baby's latch?
Real Mom Problem
“I can't get her to latch properly. My daughter's lips aren't puckered out when she latches; they are curled in around my breast. I have tried to fix them, but when I do, she unlatches.”
- 1. Pay attention to the position of your nipple; your baby's nose should be near your nipple to get a deep latch
- 2. Experiment with different holds to see if your baby latches better with a different position
- 3. Some moms have improved their baby's latch by using a nipple shield
- 4. Have your pediatrician check your baby for tongue tie
- 5. Always discuss breastfeeding issues with your pediatrician or a lactation consultant
Real Mom Solutions
Position Your Nipple Correctly
Slant your nipple towards your arm pulling it away from the baby so she has to gulp the whole areola and nipple all together. She will cry. Keep trying, keep trying, keep trying... it's hard to see her crying but she will be hungry so she will cry. Even when you get it, she will still cry sometimes so don't take that as her not wanting to do it, or not being able to do it.
When you position her, keep her lined up nose to nipple. If she is too high up or too far over to your armpit or mid chest, she won't get a deep latch as easily.
Torpedo your areola on the outside of your boob, kind of so it is slanted the way a mouth is. Make sure her lips aren't curled under when she gets on. Let her nurse as long and as often as possible. Don't get frustrated and keep trying!
Try a New Hold
The only way I can get her to latch on well is by sitting her up straddling my leg. This forces her to look up and open wide.
A good hold to try is the football hold. Sit down comfortably and hold your baby so that his back is supported by your right arm with his head in your right hand (while offering right breast). This should give you a good view of whether or not he's opening wide enough, as well as where he's trying to latch on.
Make sure your baby is nice and close to you. Try the biological nurturing position. Lay on your back with her skin to skin and follow her lead. It can take them a while to get there and get comfy but that is okay.
Try a Nipple Shield
Our son is five months old and had a few latching problems at first. We used a nipple shield for about three weeks and it was wonderful. Over four months later he is a champ at breastfeeding. We used a shield under the guidance of a lactation consultant and she monitored us closely. She also fit the shield to my nipple. I'd advise to only use a shield with a consultant.
My son wouldn't stay latched to my breast, but he would stay on that nipple shield until the cows came home.
Check for Tongue Tie
I would recommend looking for a tongue tie and if she has one, have it clipped. You may have to insist because doctors don't always see them as necessary to fix, but for nursing they are!