Breastfeeding step by step

Tips on the basics: positioning & latch

Breastfeeding step by step

It usually takes time and some instruction to get the hang of breastfeeding. Even if you have done it before, your newborn is learning for the first time. Getting a proper latch is a fundamental to successful breastfeeding, as you may often hear; however, it can be hard to know if your baby is latched correctly, especially because it may not hurt the first few times you breastfeed with a “bad” (shallow) latch. Below are some tips.

1. Position

Bring baby tummy-to-tummy with their body facing yours, not facing the ceiling

Use breastfeeding pillow to position baby comfortably and free up your hands

2. Get a good latch

Help baby open mouth wide

Bring baby to breast, not breast to baby

If needed, break the seal and start over

3. Give a full feeding

Let baby decide how long to nurse (don't cut them short)

Tips for sleepy feeders: tickle feet; blow softly on face; unlatch & burp; remove baby's clothes & go skin-to-skin; put cold washcloth over baby's neck or back

4. Release

If baby doesn’t release on their own, insert your finger at the corner of baby's cheek to break the seal before releasing

Tips for Getting a Good Latch

Encourage baby to open mouth wide: support baby's head with hand opposite the side you’re nursing (e.g., left breast, right hand) and try tickling baby’s upper lip/nose with nipple to trigger rooting reflex, or wait for big yawn.

With baby’s mouth open wide, bring them swiftly onto breast with nipple aimed at roof of baby's mouth. Try placing lower jaw on first. Some moms like to compress breast (“sandwich it”) then release when baby is latched.

If baby latches just to nipple, gently break seal with your finger at the corner of baby’s mouth and try again.

Call an IBCLC if you are in pain and having a hard time getting your baby to latch. That’s what they’re here for!

Signs of a good latch

Your breast fills baby’s mouth, which helps them pull milk more effectively through your milk ducts

Your baby’s lower lip is turned outward and the upper lip is at least laying flat, if not also flanged out

Baby’s jaw is wide open and moves as they swallow

You hear your baby swallow

Your nipple is not flat or compressed when baby comes off

Your nipples are not in intense pain throughout the feed

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