I remember before Landon was born, spending hours upon hours on Pinterest trying to research different articles on how this whole ‘mommy-thing’ works. I have heard a lot of stories from mothers who stopped breastfeeding early on because, “my baby just couldn’t latch.” I would ask myself, is it that the baby couldn’t latch or did they just not give it enough time? How long should you wait before calling it quits? When it came to breastfeeding, to be honest, I didn’t know a thing. I had no idea what the best ways were to hold the baby for “ideal breastfeeding”, not to mention my confusion when it came to talking about how to get the baby to properly latch.

After Landon was born, while in the hospital, I felt even more helpless. Each nurse would come into our room telling me to hold baby this way (or that way) and to do this or do that to adjust his latch. Although they were only trying to help, it only left me feeling more confused. This whole breastfeeding thing wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. I felt all of the pressure with finding the right angle, the proper tilt of their head, while making sure that the baby felt comfortable and secure in my hold. The days before hospital discharge were spent absorbing tons of information from the nurses and lactation specialists- with one common goal in mind, to get “the perfect latch”. (Wait, does that even exist?)

I hope that I can make this process simplifed for you by going over “the basics” that I found during my research. Just remember, like everything, helping your baby take the breast will take patience and practice. Do not feel it is something that you need to get right away and be an expert at. We all went through it- practice makes perfect, right?

  1. Get comfortable

Try to relax yourself as much as possible. Dim the lights, turn down the music and get yourself relaxed. Find a place were you feel is right for breastfeeding, whether that be in the corner of your cozy nursery sitting in your new rocking chair, set up on the couch or in your bed, wherever you feel peaceful and safe. Some moms find pillows to be a great support to them, so I encourage you to use one if this is you. There are so many breastfeeding pillows out there and a lot of moms find them to be very helpful. From my experience it is nice to be able to prop something beneath baby’s head, to give your arms a rest for the moment.

  1. Holding baby

Now let’s talk about positioning. There is no ‘proper’ way to hold your baby, it really is whatever works best for you and your baby. I will be perfectly honest with you here, this took us a good three weeks to conquer. On the nights when I felt like we had a good session, I would actually take a picture from the angle, which I fed him, so that I could remember to replicate this position the next time. After a period of time we found what worked for us both.

Below are some of the common/popular positions to hold your baby in when feeding.

Side-lying: Some women prefer laying down when feeding their baby. This may help take the weight off of your body and provide some extra comfort. Use pillows to help support your own head. Lay on your side and face baby toward your breast, help to support baby’s back with your free hand. Use your free hand to help aid baby to your breast.

Football: (great option after a C-section) Hold baby to your side, with your elbow bent. With your open hand, support baby’s head and face baby towards your breast. Baby’s feet face toward your back and his/her back will rest on your forearm.

Cross-cradle: Bring baby across the front of your body – tummy to tummy. Support baby’s head with your free hand. Cradle your baby with the arm opposite the breast you’re feeding from.

Cradle: Similar to the cross-cradle, but you will support the baby with the arm on the same side of the breast you are nursing on. I like to think of this position as ‘wearing baby like a seatbelt.’ There is a diagonal line that forms when baby is feeding and laying against your belly. This is the position that works best for us.

  1. Prepare for a good latch

Once you and your baby are comfortable, it is time to latch on.

  • Make sure to line up baby’s nose to your nipple.
  • Tilt baby’s head slightly backward.
  • Make sure that baby’s mouth is wide open.
  • Try cupping your breast in a U shape while you aid baby to your nipple. The key here is to keep baby’s lower jaw as far away from the nipple as possible.
  • Support baby firmly behind the shoulders and back, pull his/her hips against you.

I hope that these tips will help you feel more comfortable when it comes to getting the (not so) perfect latch. Remember: just as you are learning, so is your baby. This may take some time get used to and feel natural, do not worry if you both aren’t experts right away. It will come. Do not give up. You got this!

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Jessica Speer
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Jessica Speer

RN, Mama and Blogger at As the Speerit Moves You - Blog
I am a first time momma to Landon and I am loving every sweet moment that passes by with him. I work full-time as a Registered Nurse, so I know how important and beneficial breastfeeding is for your baby. On my free time, I am a writer, avid photo taker and cook. As a contributor for Breastfeeding World, my goal is to encourage and inspire other new moms as they start on their own personal journeys through motherhood and breastfeeding. We are all in this together!
Jessica Speer
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1 Comment on Is there such a thing as the “perfect latch?”

  1. Anne Kathryn
    September 23, 2017 at 3:20 PM (3 months ago)

    Great info in this article!


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