How do I get my baby to latch on?

To reach this ideal breast feeding state can take practice and patience. You will need to learn how to help your baby to get into the right position, and they will need to learn how to suck effectively.

When it comes to the right position for breast feeding, there’s no golden rule. However, many babies are comfortable being held along the chest, so that their shoulders, hips, and ears are aligned and their arms and hands can hug around your breast.

To encourage her to latch on, place her nose directly opposite your breast so she can smell your colostrum or breast milk. Then, gently move her away from your breast – this should encourage her to open her mouth even wider. As you bring her back to the breast, her head should tilt back so that her bottom lip and tongue reach it first, with your nipple filling the upper half of the roof of her mouth and the lower part of your breast more covered by her mouth.

If your baby doesn’t seem to latch on, or the feeding is painful for you, place a clean finger in the corner of your baby’s mouth to release the seal of the latch and try again. If you have to do this more than twice, try changing your position to find something else that might work better.

Here are some more tips to help with breast feeding:

  • Limit the introduction of pacifiers and bottles, as these can encourage babies to suck in a different way
  • Enjoy plenty of skin-to-skin contact with your baby, as this helps you to recognise your baby’s pre-feeding behaviour and helps them to latch on more effectively
  • Find a comfortable position for you, so that you can relax as well

Don’t be disappointed or discouraged if you find things difficult at first – you’re certainly not alone! And remember, help is always available.  Our Careline team includes midwives and lactation consultants who can help you out with any breast feeding questions you may have.

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