Breastfeeding Battles: Achieving a Successful Latch
9 min read
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Every new mum goes through lots of challenges when bub is first brought home. Nappy explosions, sleep deprivation, spit-up stains on what seems like every item of clothing you own…but every time that little face gazes up at you, or those tiny little fingers reach out and grab yours – man, is it worth every minute.
Being a mum can be a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. And, when it comes to sources of stress, breastfeeding can really take the cake. Lots of mums have trouble with it, but being in shared company might not make it any less disheartening. Especially at a time when you already have so much on your mind, and not much in the sleep tank.
If you’re in the midst of a breastfeeding battle – know this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
In a study completed by the UC Davis Medical Center, over 92% of mums surveyed said they were experiencing problems breastfeeding their child.
In that survey, half of the mums said that getting their little one to latch successfully was the source of that difficulty.
We know that breast is best and that a baby who latches properly can help prevent many of the common pitfalls of breastfeeding. So how can you help your baby to latch on with more ease?
When it comes to breastfeeding and ensuring your little one is latched onto the nipple properly, it’s all about practice. While breastfeeding is one of the most natural acts in the world, getting your baby to latch is a learned skill. It takes a while to get the hang of it, so practice makes perfect. There are also people out there that can give you a helping hand – if you’d like to chat with someone about tips and tricks for breastfeeding, speak to a healthcare professional.
When your baby is hungry, they may begin to signal to you that they are ready for a feed. Here are some common hunger cues to look out for:
Crying is also a cue that your baby may be hungry. However, this hunger cue is a late one, and if your child is crying it may make it harder to feed them. As such, it’s important to keep an eye out for the early signs. But, hunger cues aren’t an exact science – every baby is different, and things like swaddling, dummies and mittens may cause hunger cues to go unnoticed.
If you’re new to breastfeeding, or are having trouble with it, a good place to start is exploring latching tips. If your baby doesn’t latch onto your breast properly, you may find breastfeeding to be a painful experience. While using good latching and holding positions will help to limit the discomfort of breastfeeding, you may also want to try out a nipple cream to help provide you with some relief.
Sit in a nice, comfy chair or in your bed – ensuring your back is supported well. If you’re using a chair, try using a footrest or stool to prop your feet up – this will help to improve your posture and hopefully make it more comfortable for you to feed your little one.
For your comfort as well as baby’s, try using a special breastfeeding support pillow. If you don’t have one, a regular pillow will do the trick. Breastfeeding pillows come in many different shapes and sizes, and can help improve latching and breastfeeding success. You may want to sit upright, or lean back a little – experiment with both and see what works best for you.
When you are comfy and ready, hold your baby upright between your breasts. Once you’re holding your baby to your chest, watch as they begin to lead their own way to your nipple. They might start to bob or lift their head, or move their head along your breast, or, your baby may literally throw their face at your nipple – these are all normal, instinctual actions your baby takes in order to feed.
Once your baby starts signalling that they are ready to feed and are actively searching for your nipple, you can gently support their back and neck in order to help them into position. When your baby finds your nipple, the pressure of their chin hitting your breast will naturally cause their mouth to open wide so they can take in your nipple and begin to suckle.
By opening their mouth nice and wide, they should be able to achieve a good latch.
If possible, it’s best to let the baby lead the way in terms of directing themselves to your nipple and latching on. However, depending on what position you are in, you may find that scooting their bum in towards your body or giving firm support to your baby’s neck and/or shoulders may help them to achieve a deep latch.
When your baby begins to suckle, there are a number of signs you can look out for to see whether they have achieved a deep latch:
While breastfeeding is a beautiful bonding moment, as well as an essential source of nutrition for your baby, sometimes you might need a little help. If that’s the case, pay a visit to your local healthcare professional to discuss your concerns, as well as your best options moving forward.
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