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What Is Latching On in Breastfeeding?

Learn what latching on means from lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin in this Howcast video.


A proper latch-on is the most important part of the breast feeding experience, to make it comfortable. Letting the baby glide onto a nipple is not what we want. We want, in the proper position, to have the baby's mouth touch the nipple quickly and then pull them back slightly until we get a wide, wide, wide open mouth. We don't want a little pursed mouth and let them glide on just cause they're crying. We need a wide open mouth and then when we see that, we're already in position, with the cross cradle position for example, with our arm supporting the entire baby's body.

We need to give them a little bit of a shove just from their shoulders or our wrist and then once they latch it will start to go. We don't want to see them just gliding onto the nipple because then that's all they're going to get and that's where we end up with the sore, blistering, chapped up and bleeding nipples.

We want them to get a half and inch to an inch beyond the nipple. A lot of times that means that the outer edges of the areola sometimes it's a little bit beyond sometimes it's not. As long as the baby has a good grasp of the breast and not the nipple then we're good for a feeding and you will not have any soreness. If they start to glide or their mouth is too pursed and it's too close to the nipple we end up having trouble.

This way they're actually compressing the duct they're stimulating the breast so that they can continue with a great supply and they're not touching the nipple and they're forming a "T" with this tissue that inevitably just gets sprayed into the back, where the soft and hard pallet meet.


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