Many people think that breastfeeding is an innate skill. It is far from the truth. New mothers take time to master the art of breastfeeding along with their babies. Sometimes it takes knowledgeable advice to get it right. One of the most common issues for first-time moms is shallow latch breastfeeding.
A “latch” is how a baby’s mouth attaches to the breast for extracting milk. Though babies are born with innate feeding reflexes, many lack the head control and strength to latch on properly initially. Often this issue is the root of many breastfeeding troubles young mothers face. New moms must help the baby get a good latch so that she gets her full quota of milk every time she nurses.
The importance of a good latch
A shallow latch means that the infant doesn’t have its share of milk every time it feeds due to reduced sucking ability. This results in a hungry and cantankerous baby. Moreover, a shallow latch will also result in sore and chaffed nipples for the mom.
A good latch is when your baby is taking your nipple, as well as about 1 inch of your areola or breast into its mouth while nursing. A deep latch results in good suction and allows the baby to draw in more milk. As a result, the breasts will feel less full after nursing and you will see the baby gaining weight over some time.
Some tips to avoid shallow latching
Most babies get the latch right after a few months. But it is important that you help it along from the beginning itself to get the milk supply right. This will result in a happy baby and a happier mom. Here are some tips-
1. The right time to feed
Experienced moms feed when the baby shows first signs of hunger. The first signs of hunger are smacking lips and rooting (turning their heads from side to side). For newborns, nurse as soon as they wake up. If you keep a close watch, you and your baby will instinctively arrive at the right time for feeding after a few hits and misses.
2. Determine the best position for nursing
It takes several tries for you and your little one to hit upon the best position for nursing. The “laid back” position works well for most. In this position, you comfortably lie down on your back with your breasts exposed. Place the baby on your chest. Cover her with a blanket so she’s warm, and start nursing as soon as she begins rooting. This way her mouth is relaxed and in an optimal position to feed when she is hungry.
3. Calm babies are easier to feed
Babies get extremely frantic when hungry. A frantic baby cannot get a deep latch. Nursing just when the baby shows the first signs of hunger gives you the best results. When the baby is calm and beginning to get hungry, it will start rooting once you both get into the best position for nursing.
4. Pay attention to the mouth
The baby’s mouth is wide open when she’s got a deep latch. Most of the areola and the nipple will be in her mouth. In a shallow latch, the lips are turned inward with only the nipple inside the mouth. This will cause sore nipples and other complications for the mom.
Touch the chin gently to pry the lips apart for a deeper latch. The baby automatically corrects the latch when she begins to feel the free flow of milk. Both the child and mom will be happy this way.
5. The “sandwich” technique
This technique is akin to eating an overstuffed sandwich. With your free hand gently squeeze your breast so that the areola pushes forward. Tickle the baby’s mouth with the nipple. The mouth will automatically open wide as a reflex and latch deeply for nursing. Once your baby begins to feel the free flow of milk, she will automatically learn to do it right every time she feeds.
6. Aim for the roof of the mouth
The optimum position for the nipple to be while nursing is at the junction of the hard and soft palate. This provides a deep latch and good suction. You can help this along by aiming your nipple to hit the roof of your baby’s mouth. When you hit the sweet spot, the nipples are protected and the milk flows freely.
7. Don’t hesitate to seek a professional’s help
If after trying the above tips your baby does not latch properly, seek professional help. There are medical conditions such as tongue ties and upper lip ties. These conditions prevent babies from latching properly. In some cases, the babies might not be able to latch on to their mom’s large nipples. You can use a breast pump and feed your baby the expressed milk till they learn to latch correctly.
Read also: Best Nursing Bras For Large Breasts
Some parting shots
Nursing creates a bond like no other between babies and their moms. Moreover, mother’s milk provides all the necessary nutrients and helps keep your baby protected against diseases. Finally, children raised on mom’s milk tend to be healthier and happier. Happy nursing!