When a baby breastfeeds they need to open their mouth wide and take in a large mouthful of breast. Then they feed by using deep jaw movements and their tongue to get the milk out. Babies are born with lots of instincts that help them to feed well. You can help your baby get a deep latch at the breast by holding them in a way that helps this.
- Make sure you are in a comfortable position, you may be feeding your baby for an hour and so you want to find a place in your home that is comfortable for you and you can rest back and relax.
- Hold your baby very close, let their arms cuddle your breast and your nipple should be opposite your baby’s nose.
- Support your baby around the neck, shoulders or back but let their head move freely. Your baby needs to be able to tip their head back in order to open their mouth wide.
- Let your nipple touch your baby’s top lip and this will encourage your baby to open their mouth wide.
- When your baby opens their mouth wide bring them in closer so that the chin comes deep into your breast. Your baby should be so close to your breast that you can’t see their lips so don’t worry about what the lips are doing.
- Keep holding your baby close as they feed and let yourself relax back.
How can you tell that your baby is feeding well?
- Breastfeeding should not hurt. You may feel some discomfort initially but this should fade away quickly as your baby feeds.
- Your baby’s chin should be deep in your breast and baby’s nose should be clear; if there is a gap between baby’s chin and your breast this suggests that your baby may not be close enough.
- Your baby’s cheeks should look full and round, if there are dimples or the cheeks are being sucked in then baby may not have enough breast in his mouth.
- Your baby will start sucking rapidly to get the milk flowing and then the sucking should change to a slow rhythmical pattern of one or two sucks followed by a pause as baby swallows and breathes. As the feed goes on the pauses may get longer and longer and towards the end of the feed your baby may do some very light flutter sucks.
- Your baby should look relaxed and in the early weeks will often be sleeping as they are feeding.
- When your baby has finished feeding they will usually take themselves off the breast.
Do ask your midwife for help with latching your baby until you feel confident.
For more information visit www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly