L: What Is Latching On?

04/01/2010 09:52 | Updated 22 May 2015

When a breastfeeding baby is attached well to his mother we say he is properly latched on.

This latch lets him feed effectively and get a good amount of food as he is 'milking' the actual breast and not just the nipple.

Getting the latch right can be tricky at first, but it really is the most important thing for you and your baby to learn if you want to breastfeed successfully.

If breastfeeding hurts, or you have cracked and sore nipples, something is going wrong with the latch. Remember that breastfeeding shouldn't be painful.

An incorrect latch can lead to other problems such as blocked milk ducts or even mastitis.

To get your baby to latch on properly, start with his nose to your nipple.

Next, make sure he opens his mouth wide. You can tickle his lips with your nipple to encourage him.

Then move the baby towards you quickly, chin first.

The baby's bottom lip should be folded down against his chin, and you should see more of your areola above his mouth than below.

His nose should be free so that he can breathe easily.

If you think it has gone wrong, break the seal of his lips with your little finger and start again.

Try to begin a feed before your baby gets too hungry and upset so that you are both relatively calm and don't need to rush. Ensure that you are both in a comfortable position.

If you are having problems understanding what to do from descriptions and pictures, it can be really helpful to attend a class at your local hospital for new breastfeeding mums.

Or you might find a breastfeeding group meeting near your home.

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