Avoiding breastfeeding/chest feeding problems (part 2): Correct latching.

One of the top concerns on the minds of new mums and mums-to-be is breastfeeding/chest feeding. That’s why we covered the crucial first hour after birth in the first part of our blog series on breastfeeding/ chest feeding problems. If you haven’t read the blog yet, take a look here.

In this article, our midwife and babywearing expert, Katrin Ritter talks about how to latch baby correctly.

Why breast/chest feeding is a brilliant decision

Immediate, undisturbed and extended skin-to-skin contact is the foundation to successful breast/chest feeding . This is not the sole responsibility of the mother, but also requires support from her partner, family members and society in general. Breast milk is unique, irreplaceable, containing thousands of different ingredients – including proteins, fats, lactose, vitamins, ice, minerals, water and enzymes that promote baby’s optimal development. Breast milk is free, readily available and has countless health benefits for little one too.

How your baby latches properly

When baby lies on its mother’s breast/chest, it is directly at the food source. This promotes milk production in mothers and enables little one to breast/chest feed intuitively.

This may sound simple, but it does not mean that correct latching on will work immediately. Many breast/chest feeding problems in the early postpartum period can be avoided or solved by a good breast/chest feeding position and the appropriate “docking”.

You may have heard of some of these “problems” or perhaps even felt them in your own body:

– Sore nipples

– Excessive onset of abundant milk production

– Restlessness and crying

– Insufficient milk production/milk deficiency

– Milk congestion and breast inflammation

– Unfavourable weight development in the baby

This is not meant to scare parents, but to identify that the right technique for breast/chest feeding is the basis for frequent and relaxed feeding and good emptying of the breast/chest.

Top tips for relaxed breast/ chest feeding:

– Identify a comfortable position for mum and baby. Try different positions such as, both sitting and lying down, and to vary them from time to time.

– Proven positions include: cradle position, cross position, supine position and the side position.

– To help baby stay in the correct position use a nursing pillow.

– Baby will latch on once a good position is found.

-Parent can bring baby to the breast/chest when their mouth is wide open (>=120°). Top Tip: It is not the breast/chest that comes to baby, but the other way round.

– Baby’s head is NOT turned. Their ear, shoulder and hip are always in line.

– Baby’s feet are in contact with the nursing pillow or mother so that they can regulate and relax better (this can also be your arm).

– Baby lies with their mouth at the level of the nipple.

– A reclined breast/chest feeding position is recommended for the first few days and in the weeks thereafter . Baby lies on their stomach on the reclined mother and can latch well with the help of its early childhood reflexes. It is important that there is no pressure on the shoulders, upper back and head. The mother is well supported in the lower back and makes sure that baby does not slide down. A bonding top can also help.

How you can tell that you have put baby on correctly.

– Mouth wide open (>= 120 °).

– Upper lip slightly turned out and loose (red lip visible).

– Lower lip turned outwards (tongue lies over the lower teeth line).

– Cheeks chubby when drinking (no straw cheeks).

– Head is slightly over-extended.

– Nose and/or chin touch the chest.

– Rolling movement of the lower jaw visible (ears wiggle).

– Tongue moves rhythmically.

– Parent feel no pain, nipples feel good.

– Once fed, baby is satisfied and relaxed.

Almost every woman can breast/chest feed. Patience is a good companion in the early stages as mum and baby practice this new method together. If you would like more advice, can also contact your midwife or a breast/ chest feeding consultant/supporter for additional support.

In the next blog we will look at possible breast/ chest feeding problems and what “women” can do about them.

Source: Script Avoiding and solving breastfeeding problems in the early postpartum period, Iris-Susanne Brandt-Schenk, IBCLC, 2020

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