Guidelines on Latching

As a breastfeeding mother or partner of a breastfeeding mother, you have probably heard a great deal about latching. The latch refers to how the baby’s mouth and tongue are positioned around the mother’s nipple. Something to realize right away is that there is no “right” way to latch. Just because a latch looks good doesn’t mean it is pain-free or that milk is transferring properly. When I consult, I want to know how the latch feels, because often a lot of pain and trouble can be pre-empted by some adjustments early on. No one is 100% the same in this regard. It’s my job to figure out and ensure that both mom and baby are safe, comfortable, and baby is receiving an adequate amount of breastmilk.

I recently read an article written by a mom that resonated with me. As a society we place so much emphasis on everything being perfect and following what we know is the “correct” position. Many times a mother’s latch will work for her and her baby, even though it might not fit with what we envisioned as a “good latch.” I always say that if the baby is healthy and receiving an adequate amount of breastmilk, and the mother is not having any pain then they have found their “perfect latch.” On the flip side, if a mother is in pain or stressed out, or if the infant is not transferring adequately, we need to adjust things — even if that latch looks textbook.

The number one rule is “feed the baby.” No matter what other issues come up, you need to make sure that the baby is getting an adequate amount of milk (even if that means you are supplementing while you are working out the kinks). Other health issues to be on the lookout for are a drop in weight, dark yellow urine, less stools, or an unsettled baby constantly wanting to eat. If baby is experiencing any of these issues, its time to get a Lactation Consultant on board.

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