There is SO MUCH information on breastfeeding and the ideal way to latch the baby to the breast. There are programs and positions and videos and books. I’m going to let you in on a secret: there is no one right way to position your baby for a good latch. There are, however, a lot of things that you can do to set yourself up for success. How do you start breastfeeding? It begins with baby skin to skin on your chest.
The Golden Hour
Start right after birth with your baby skin to skin on your chest. This is called the golden hour, the sacred hour, or the magical hour. As long as there is no urgent/emergent medical need mom and baby should be left to cuddle and regroup after birth. It’s important no matter how you plan to feed your baby, actually. There has just been a huge transition and a surge of oxytocin is happening that will promote this bonding time.
Baby might latch right away. Or baby might bob their head and mouth or lick around the breast. It’s all part of the process, don’t rush it.
The First Latch
What makes a good latch? A good latch is deep and comfortable. Baby gets a lot of areola and not just nipple. The chin is deep into the breast tissue, the cheeks are touching the breast, the upper lip is relaxed. Most of all, though it might feel tender or weird, it isn’t painful. Watch the following video for a beautiful visual of a good, effective latch.
Position for Success
In order to get baby to open the mouth wide so you can have a nice, deep, comfortable latch we focus on baby’s whole body and not just the mouth. Bring baby close, tummy turned in towards you. Belly, hips, knees, and feet should all be touching your body. When these spots are connected an instinctual response happens that results in a nice wide open mouth. Dr. Theresa Nesbitt and Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC explain this concept in the video below.
In the first days your goal is to feed baby at least 8 times in each 24 hour period. Follow hunger cues rather than the clock, but try not to have more than 4-5 hours lapse between each feeding. Let’s be honest, your baby will probably eat more frequently and that is ok. Each time baby goes to breast, your brain gets the message to start transitioning from colostrum, your first milk, to mature milk.
Aim to have a full feeding on one breast. Let baby feed for several minutes on one side until satisfied. Bring baby up to your chest and try to burp them. If they settle down and sleep, enjoy the cuddles. If they make hunger cues again, offer the other breast. Then start the next feeding on that second breast.
Prepare for the Best!
Learn more about how to position yourself, your baby, and your breast for a comfortable latch from the start.
Sign up for the Natural Breastfeeding Class. It’s an online, self-paced course that will give you the information you need to start your breastfeeding journey on the right foot.
For the best experience, Magnolia Lactation offers prenatal consults. We talk about your personal history and goals and give you information tailored to you. You can go into your birth confident that you know how to breastfeed your baby and face any early challenges. You can choose a consult package that includes the Natural Breastfeeding Class for a discounted price!
Book a Prenatal Consult
Amanda is an RN, IBCLC (lactation consultant) who helps breastfeeding families through classes and home visits in the greater Baton Rouge, La area. Secure virtual visits are available for breastfeeding support no matter the location.
All information on this website is intended for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Magnolia Lactation Consulting encourages all families to have close communication with the medical providers of their choice.