Many mothers ask “does this latch look right to you?”
My first question back to the mum is “how does it feel to you?” For the most part, a correct latch does not hurt and a baby is clearly able to drink milk comfortably. If these two things are happening, it is largely irrelevant how the latch looks to me! However, if the mum and baby are not happy and pain free, it is a great idea to see what is going on and work to improve the situation.
Please see the videos on this site for more information and suggestions on how to latch your baby on comfortably.
When a baby is well attached we can see their cheeks touching the breast tissue equally on both sides. Their cheeks will be full and rounded. We should barely see their lips or the nipple at all. Baby’s chin will be close to the breast and nose either free or gently touching the breast. As baby sucks, the nipple will not be visibly tugged in any direction – there will be some movement as the baby sucks but not obvious pulling towards baby’s mouth. If any of those things are happening, it is worth taking baby off by putting a finger into their mouth to break the seal. Then try again.
When your baby is well attached, you should see and hear them swallow. As they swallow their jaw will drop and there will be a slight pause before it comes back up again. Their little double chin might disappear as they swallow. They will also make a “huff” sound from their nose and you might even hear them gulp milk. These are all great signs that baby is feeding well.
Here are some pictures of a good latch and sub optimal latch – with thanks to the many mums who post pictures of themselves.
The baby below is well latched with a big open mouth and not much areola visible. Her head is free. Mum’s nipple has not been moved from where it naturally belongs.
This baby has full rounded cheeks and is being held close to mum with very little areola visible. Look at the lovely eye contact.
However, the baby below has just got the nipple in her mouth, and is pulling it away from mum. This could make mum sore and also baby will not receive as much milk.
This baby is tugging the breast tissue to one side, and only has a grip on the nipple. Ouch.
These twins have great big mouthfuls of breast and are feeding very happily with their cheeks and noses touching the breast.
The key thing to remember, if the latch is painful this is telling you something! Please seek out some specialist support. Many women are amazed that a small intervention can suddenly make breastfeeding pain free.
If you would like a video consultation with me, please contact me via my website or at 07720 425 897. We can very often sort out your latching problems and achieve pain free breastfeeding within one session.