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Breastfeeding is a skill like any other, it takes time and practice to perfect. Some mums and babies may find it tricky at the beginning, but as baby grows and they get to know each other more, breastfeeding usually becomes easier. 

In this post we will describe and show how to hold baby at the breast to get the best latch possible. These tips are most important at the beginning while you are honing your breastfeeding skills but can also be useful to return to if you feel your latch has slipped over time. 

 

Positioning

These LATCH tips apply to all holds. Run through this list in your head whilst you prepare to feed. It will help you and baby get into a comfortable and appropriate position every time.

Lean back or lie down.

Arrange pillows, drinks, footrest etc – get comfortable.

Tummy to mummy.

Chin to breast.

Head free, neck supported.

Below are some feeding positions you can try – some can be easier for mums with larger breasts, if you have pain sitting or if you want to practice feeding lying down, whilst you rest. Try a few and choose what works for you and baby. 

Attachment

Once you and baby are in a comfortable position and ready to feed, it is time to focus on getting the attachment (or latch) correct. 

To latch baby

  1. Hold them close to your body.
  2. Bring their chin to your breast and their nose opposite your nipple (you can express some milk onto your nipple to encourage baby to locate it).
  3. Wait for baby to open their mouth wide, their head should tilt back, guide them with your hand placed on their upper back / base of their neck onto your breast (nipple should be pointing to the roof of their mouth).
  4. When baby latches initially they will suck more breast tissue into their mouth until they have created a good vacuum, this will also stimulate the let-down of milk.
  5. If there are any nipping or painful sensations lasting more than 30 seconds, make micro adjustments to baby’s position until the sensation eases. Some adjustments you can try are: hold baby closer to your body making sure the chin and cheeks are pressed to your breast, move them an inch towards their toes or towards their head (these movements will help move your nipple to the soft palette in baby’s mouth which will be much more comfortable). 

If feeding continues to be painful, break the seal by placing a clean finger into the corner of baby’s mouth and bring them off the breast before trying again. 

If baby is upset it may be more difficult to latch, so try calming them a little before you bring them back to the breast. Ideally latching baby before they get very hungry and upset will make for an easier latching experience. 

A good latch has occurred when you are pain free, baby has full cheeks, you can hear, feel or see them sucking and swallowing, they are not popping or slipping off the breast and they come off the breast themselves contented and having had enough milk. 

After feeding your nipple should not be compressed on one side (lipstick shape), you should have no pain or abrasions on your nipple, and your breasts may feel softer if baby has had a substantial feed.  

 

How to latch baby with a nipple shield or Coro in place

Steps to latch baby with a shield in place are very similar to latching without. It is important to have baby close to your body and to ensure baby gets a good amount of breast tissue in their mouth as well as the teat of the shield.

To feed baby with a shield or Coro, firstly use the LATCH steps to get into a comfortable position and take a second to apply the shield. 

  1.  Start by holding the shield in your hand and turn it inside out, i.e.  pinch the long edges and pull them together around the teat section of the shield. This exposes the base of teat.
  2. Place the circular base of the teat around your nipple, ensuring it is centered and your nipple is not touching the shield at all. 
  3. Press the base firmly into your breast and let the edges return to the starting position, then smooth them onto the breast. The shield should stay in place and not slip or fall off. 
  4. Next, latch baby as you would without a nipple shield, bringing their chin to the breast and have their nose opposite or touching the tip of the nipple shield teat. When they reach their head back, help them on to the shield as you would help them onto the nipple. Hold baby close to encourage them to suck enough breast tissue into their mouth.

 

*Tips for shield feeding*

  • Nipple shields come in different sizes which are based on the diameter of your nipple. Most people will fit in the medium or 24mm sized shields but you should measure yourself to be sure. If your nipple measures less than 15mm before feeding you may need a smaller size and if it measures 20mm or more, you will need a larger size. At the moment Coro is available only in a medium size, look out for our different sizes in the near future.
  • If baby is struggling to identify the shield teat, try expressing some breast milk into the nipple shield after it has been applied. You can also try dropping some breast milk onto the outside of the shield teat as this will help baby smell and locate where to latch.

  • If you’re struggling to get your shield to stay in place, try rubbing a little bit of clean water on the edges so that it sticks to your breast when applied.