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Mastering breastfeeding: Understanding latch and attachment

Mastering breastfeeding: Understanding latch and attachment


Breastfeeding is a beautiful and essential part of nurturing your newborn, providing them with vital nutrients, and fostering a strong bond between parent and child. However, for many new parents, it can also be a challenging and sometimes overwhelming experience, especially when it comes to achieving a good latch and attachment during breastfeeding.

Understanding the Importance of Latch and Attachment during breastfeeding

A proper latch and attachment are crucial for successful breastfeeding. The latch refers to how your baby attaches to your breast while feeding, while attachment encompasses the physical and emotional connection between you and your little one during this intimate process.

Benefits of a Good Latch and Attachment during breastfeeding:

  • Efficient Milk Transfer: A good latch ensures that your baby can effectively remove breastmilk from your breast, promoting adequate nutrition and growth.
  • Comfortable Feeding: Proper attachment reduces discomfort for both you and your baby, preventing soreness or pain.
  • Stimulates Milk Production: Effective nursing triggers your body to produce more breastmilk, supporting a healthy milk supply.
  • Enhances Bonding and Satisfaction: A good latch promotes a relaxed and intimate bonding experience between you and your baby during feedings. This positive association encourages both you and your baby to enjoy and look forward to breastfeeding sessions, contributing to a longer breastfeeding journey.
  • Creates Positive Feeding Patterns: When your baby is effectively latched and feeding comfortably, they are more likely to establish healthy feeding patterns. This includes adequate breastmilk intake during each feeding session, promoting longer intervals between feedings as your baby grows, and supporting a sustained breastfeeding routine.

How do you prepare for latching?

Preparing for a successful latch starts with recognising your baby's feeding cues. Creating a comfortable setting for breastfeeding aids in relaxation and focusing on attaching the baby. Additionally, skin-to-skin contact has shown its effectiveness in enhancing attachment.Top of Form

 How do newborns show signs of hunger?

  • Rooting Reflex: Baby turns their head and opens their mouth when their cheek is touched, indicating a desire to breastfeed.
  • Sucking Motions: They may suck on their fists, fingers, or nearby objects.
  • Increased Alertness: Babies become more alert, moving around or making soft sounds. Promptly responding to these cues is essential for effective feeding.

*Note: Crying is a late hunger cue, if baby is crying attaching at the breast can be difficult. Calm baby with skin-to-skin before attempting to latch.

 How does skin-to-skin contact aid latching for breastfeeding?

  • Temperature Regulation: Keeping the baby warm supports comfortable feeding.
  • Bonding: Close contact fosters a deep emotional connection, enhancing the feeding experience.
  • Latching Assistance: It encourages natural feeding behaviors, facilitating instinctive latching for successful feeding.

Comfortable Environment: Choose a calm and relaxed setting where you feel at ease and can focus on feeding without distractions. Use a chair with good back support or a nursing pillow to maintain a comfortable posture during breastfeeding. Soft, dim lighting can create a soothing environment, promoting relaxation during feeding sessions.

How to achieve the perfect latch during breastfeeding:

  1. Positioning the Baby:
  • Tummy-to-Tummy Contact: Maintain close contact between you and your baby by ensuring their body is pressed against yours. This position, known as "tummy-to-tummy," involves your baby facing you and being snugly positioned against your body.
  • Support: Support your baby's neck and shoulders instead of holding their head. This helps your baby tilt their head back for a wide-mouth latch, ensuring proper attachment during breastfeeding.
  • Top of Form
  • Nose-to-Nipple Alignment: Aligning your baby's nose with your nipple positions them optimally to initiate a good latch. This alignment allows your baby to take in a larger portion of the areola along with the nipple, facilitating a deeper latch. When the nose is in line with the nipple, it prompts your baby to open their mouth wide, facilitating a better grasp of the breast.
  1. Wait for a Wide Open Mouth:
  • Patience is Key: Wait for a wide-open mouth, similar to a yawn, before attempting to latch. When your baby tilts their head back and opens wide, swiftly bring them in by their back, ensuring a secure hold against you. A secure hold helps the baby feel comfortable and more likely to latch without resistance.
  1. Latching Technique:
  • Aim for a Deep Latch: When your baby’s mouth is wide open, bring them onto your breast, aiming their lower jaw first to get a deep latch.
  1. Signs of a Good Latch:
  • Fish Lips: Your baby's lips should be flanged outward, resembling fish lips.
  • Audible Swallowing: Listen for rhythmic swallowing sounds while your baby feeds, indicating efficient milk intake. Note that in the initial days, you may not hear swallowing sounds until your mature milk, produced at higher volumes, begins to come in.
  • Comfortable Feeding Sensation: Your nipples should feel comfortable, not pinched, or sore. After baby detaches the nipple should remain round; pinched or misshapen nipples indicate a shallow latch.

What are the signs of a poor latch during breastfeeding?

  1. Pain or Discomfort:
  • Adjust Position: If you feel pain or discomfort, gently break the latch by inserting a clean finger between your baby's mouth and your breast and try relatching.
  • Consult a Specialist: Persistent pain or damage to your nipples may require guidance from a lactation consultant or healthcare provider.
  1. Shallow Latch:
  • Repositioning: If you notice your baby has a shallow latch (only sucking on the nipple), gently break the latch and try again, ensuring they take in more of the areola.
  1. Engorgement or Low Milk Supply:
  • Expressing Breastilk: If breasts are engorged, express a bit of breastmilk to soften the areola, making it easier for your baby to latch.
  • Seek Support: If you're worried about low milk supply, monitor your baby's post-feeding behavior for signs of contentment. Keep track of their nappie count—six or more wet nappies per day is a positive indicator of sufficient feeding. Additionally, consistent weight gain is a reliable measure of sufficient feeding. Seek guidance from a lactation specialist for support in addressing any concerns and boosting milk production.

What are some tips for successful breastfeeding?

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to maintain good hydration levels, which can support milk production.
  • Breast Care: Keep your nipples clean and dry. Air-dry your nipples after feeds to prevent irritation. If they become sore, apply lanolin cream or breast milk to soothe them.
  • Feed on Demand: Respond promptly to your baby's feeding cues. Feeding on demand helps establish a good milk supply and ensures your baby gets enough milk.
  • Switching Breasts: Offer both breasts during a feeding session. Start with the breast used last and switch midway to ensure balanced milk production and emptying of both breasts.
  • Nourish Yourself: Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients and consider taking prenatal vitamins to support your health and milk production.
  • Seek Support: Don't hesitate to ask for help or guidance from lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, or healthcare professionals if you encounter difficulties or have questions.
  • Patience and Persistence: Be patient with yourself and your baby. Breastfeeding can take time to master, and both you and your baby are learning throughout the process.
  • Skin-to-Skin Time: Incorporate regular skin-to-skin contact with your baby, not just during feeds. This fosters bonding and can encourage breastfeeding.
  • Stay Relaxed: Stress can affect milk supply. Find ways to relax during feeding sessions, whether through deep breathing, gentle music, or a comfortable environment.

Remember, every breastfeeding journey is unique. Finding what works best for you and your baby may take time and adjustment. Don't be afraid to adapt and seek support from a lactation consultant whenever needed.


Berens, P., Eglash, A., Malloy, M., & Steube, A. (n.d.). ABM Clinical Protocol #26: Persistent pain with breastfeeding. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.

Centuori, S., Burmaz, T., Ronfani, L., Fragiacomo, M., Quintero, S., Pavan, C., Davanzo, R., & Cattaneo, A. (n.d.). Nipple care, sore nipples, and breastfeeding: A Randomized Trial. Sage Journal.

Degefa, N., Tariku, B., Bancha, T., Amana, G., Hajo, A., Kusse, Y., Zerihun, E., & Aschalew, Z. (2019, April 7). Breast feeding practice: Positioning and attachment during breast feeding among lactating mothers visiting health facility in Areka Town, southern Ethiopia. International journal of pediatrics.

Parashar, M., Singh, S., Kishore, J., & Patavegar, B. N. (n.d.). Breastfeeding attachment and positioning technique ... - sage journals. Sage Journals.

Santos, K. J. da S., Santana, G. S., Vieira, T. de O., Santos, C. A. de S. T., Giugliani, E. R. J., & Vieira, G. O. (2016, August 5). Prevalence and factors associated with cracked nipples in the first month postpartum. BMC pregnancy and childbirth.


Svensson, K. E., Velandia, M. I., Matthiesen, A.-S. T., Welles-Nyström, B. L., & Widström, A.-M. E. (2013, March 11). Effects of mother-infant skin-to-skin contact on severe latch-on problems in older infants: A randomized trial - international breastfeeding journal. BioMed Central.

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