Updated: Sep 28, 2019
No matter what your latch and positioning look like, these two questions are the most important:
1) Is it effective?
2) Is it comfortable?
If your baby is transferring milk and gaining weight well, and you are not hurting, then your latch and positioning are by definition "good" - even if they look nothing like the textbook latch and positioning that you’ve seen in books. If these two conditions for optimal breastfeeding are not in place, do not fear, there are a few ways to help both you and your baby achieve comfort and effectiveness.
Deep Latch: The best latch is called the Deep Latch. According to the Pumping Station, the deep latch technique (also called asymmetric latch) can be achieved by:
1) Holding your breast with your thumb and index finger on the edge of the areola forming a 'C' shape if using the football hold, or a 'U' shape for the cross cradle hold.
2) You then compress your breast like a sandwich or a taco to make it easier for baby to latch onto. As you bring your baby to your breast, tilt their head back so that their nose touches your nipple just above the upper lip, causing them to open their mouth wide.
3) Finally, you scoop your breast into the baby's open mouth, first resting it on the lower lip causing it to be 'caught' under the breast, then tip your baby's head forward so that a large portion of your breast tissue is in your baby's mouth.
4) This should result in the baby's upper and lower lips being flanged out like a fish.
5) When attempting this technique, it's important to make sure to support your baby's head with one hand, keeping your thumb near one ear, and third finger near the other ear, with the web of your hand at the nape of your baby's neck.
6) With newborns, you may need to hold your breast tissue in place in the 'sandwich' shape while breastfeeding until their mouths and suck become stronger, and more effective with holding breast tissue in their mouths.
Great video! Well worth your time!
Keep in mind: It's not supposed to hurt to breastfeed. Sore nipples almost always mean your baby needs to be latched on more deeply. Also, all babies have receded chins. If your baby's head drops forward, he/she cannot get the lower jaw correctly positioned deeply under the areola. This results in pinched, sore, blistered, scabbed, nipples and the possibility of poor milk flow.
The Flipple: A slight variation of a deep latch technique is the "Flipple"- or exaggerated latch. This is especially useful for short or flat nipples. First create a sandwich much like the deep latch, but place your finger above your areola and press into your breast. This will flip your nipple upward. Then position your baby nose to nipple like the deep latch. As soon as they open their mouth wide and tilt their head back, introduce the chin and bottom lip first (catching the bottom lip to flange down) and use your finger to flip the nipple into her mouth, then flip up the upper lip. Once your baby is latched on, remove your finger.
If you're a visual person, check out a few videos that accurately depict the Flipple in action:
A deep latch and the 'flipple' is great for every nursing mom! But it may be even more beneficial if you're experiencing sore, cracked or painful nipples, have a baby with tongue-tie, are currently using nipple shields, having milk transfer issues, or have short/flat/inverted nipples.
If you are experiencing difficulties with your breastfeeding, contact me! A little hands-on help sometimes goes a long way for a positive breastfeeding experience.
And remember, you are doing a great job!