March 3, 2023
People often falsely believe that babies are born knowing how to do several things, including breastfeeding properly; however, it often takes a good bit of time and effort for infants to grasp this concept. But as a mother, it’s up to you to carefully guide them and ensure that they latch on correctly. Here’s more from your pediatric dentist about how to go about creating a proper breastfeeding latch, along with some signs that your baby might not be latching properly.
The Importance of a Proper Breastfeeding Latch
Latching on refers to the way that your baby takes your nipple and areola into their mouth to begin nursing, and it’s the most important aspect of breastfeeding. Without a proper latch, your baby won’t get the milk they need, and your breasts won’t be properly stimulated to produce more. This creates an undesirable and vicious cycle of poor milk demand coupled with poor milk supply—and even worse, your breastfeeding nipples might become cracked and irritated when the latch isn’t correct.
The ideal latch encompasses both the nipple and the surrounding areola, the pinkish-brown flat circle that darkens during pregnancy (which is Mother Nature’s way of giving your newborn a visual cue). Though breast milk comes out of numerous tiny openings in the nipple, your baby’s gums need to compress the areola and the milk sinuses underneath it in order for the milk to begin flowing.
Steps for Creating a Proper Breastfeeding Latch
Here are some detailed steps you can follow to help your baby latch correctly:
- Hold your baby in a good breastfeeding position, cupping your breast with your free hand. Place your thumb above your nipple and areola at the spot where your baby’s nose will touch your breast; your index finger should be in the spot where your baby’s chin will touch your breast. Lightly compress your breast, giving it a shape more closely resembling your baby’s mouth.
- Bring your baby to your breast, stroke their cheek, and turn their mouth toward it. Tickle their lips with your nipple until their mouth opens wide, similar to a yawn, and then quickly bring them to the breast without pushing or squashing their head into it.
- Allow them to take your nipple and areola into their mouth; they probably won’t get the entire areola in, especially if yours is large, but that’s perfectly okay. You’ll know the latch is ideal if your baby’s chin and the tip of their nose are touching your breast, and if their lips are flanged out like a fish’s. Once the latch is in place, your little one should fall right into their suckling pattern.
Signs Your Child Isn’t Latching Properly
Be mindful of the following, as they might indicate that your baby isn’t latching properly:
- You’re experiencing nipple pain; this might mean your child is chewing on your nipple instead of gumming the areola. You will need to unlatch and try again.
- You’re hearing clicking noises, which indicate your child is likely only sucking the nipple and not the areola; you’ll need to unlatch and start again.
- You have painful bruises on your breast; this occurs when your child is missing the mark entirely and grabbing onto other parts of the boob and not getting any milk.
It might take a lot of work to get there, but ensuring that your little one is able to latch correctly whenever it’s time to breastfeed will confirm that they’re getting the nourishment they need without causing you any unnecessary discomfort.
About the Practice
The team at Florida Tongue Tie Institute is thrilled to provide an exceptional level of care for families in the Palm Harbor area under the leadership of Dr. Maggie Davis. Dr. Davis is a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist and proud Diplomate in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; few are as qualified as her when it comes to helping children achieve optimal oral health. If you have any questions about the article or would like to schedule a visit for your little one, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Davis through her practice’s website or over the phone: (727) 605-4642.
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