Is Baby Doing It Right?

Learning to breastfeed for the first time can be an experience (to say the least!) for mom and baby. Don’t lose sleep over helping your baby latch.

Mom breastfeeding her baby

What is latching?

The term “latching on” refers to baby taking the mother’s areola and sucking efficiently to get breast milk. A poor latch or baby “chewing” Mom’s nipple instead of properly sucking could result in baby not getting enough milk and becoming frustrated with the nursing process (not to mention sore, dry and cracked nipples for Mom. Ouch!).

Get help in the hospital

Even if you’re a second time mom or sure you have the breastfeeding technique down pat, allow a lactation specialist to visit with you in the hospital after your baby has arrived. She can offer tips like proper latching techniques and positions to help make breastfeeding a breeze. When done properly, baby should be able to obtain the milk he needs without getting frustrated and it should result in minimal discomfort for moms.

Encourage baby to latch

La Leche League International (LLLI) offers tips to help baby get used to latching on with proper breastfeeding technique.

  • If baby is having trouble latching on and taking milk, be sure to express the colostrum (that “liquid gold” that precedes your breast milk coming in shortly after delivery) to feed to baby by dropper or spoon.
  • Pump to avoid becoming engorged, as it is difficult for a baby to latch when the breasts are too full and hardened due to an excess of milk.
  • Change positions. If baby is having trouble or is disinterested in latching on in one position, try another (and another!) until both he and you are comfortable enough to start the nursing process.
  • Ensure you offer skin-to-skin contact during nursing. Cover yourselves with a warm blanket to encourage latching.
  • Nurse in a dark and quiet room. If this doesn’t work, try nursing while carrying your baby or gently rocking or bouncing him. All babies like something different when it comes to mealtime with Mom.

What if baby still won’t latch?

Get help right away with the assistance of a lactation specialist. She can help you determine why baby isn’t latching and the next steps you need to take to get baby on the breast.

Never wait too long for baby to feed, as young newborns can easily become dehydrated, leaving them too weak to properly latch.

More on breastfeeding

Breastfeeding baby: On schedule or on demand
Breastfeeding may keep diabetes away – from mom
How to get comfortable breastfeeding around others

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