How will my baby latch on for breastfeeding?

You may be having difficulty getting your baby to latch on for breastfeeding. If you do, read on to find out how you can help make breastfeeding a fuss-free, and even enjoyable experience for both you and your baby.

Steps for helping the baby latch on

Before you start breastfeeding, your body, especially your shoulders and arms, should be relaxed. This is to make you comfortable throughout the feed. You should hold your baby close to you, and have his or her neck, shoulders and back supported. Take care that your baby’s head and body form a straight line. This is to help your baby swallow your breastmilk easily.

Once you are in a good position and so is your baby, hold your baby so that your nipple is at your baby’s nose level. When your baby opens his or her mouth, bring your baby on to your breast. You could touch your baby’s top lip to encourage his or her mouth to open. Once this happens, bring your baby’s mouth to your breast. Your baby will close his or her mouth over your breast, and the nipple should go inside your baby’s mouth and towards the roof of the mouth.

Different positions for breastfeeding

Cradle hold: In this position, you bend your elbow towards your body, and your forearm supports your baby’s body, with your baby’s head in the arm’s nook. Your baby should be horizontal, or slightly slanted, with his or her legs on your stomach. If your baby is feeding on your right nipple, you should be supporting him or her with your right arm, and if it is on your left, then the support is given with your left arm.

The cradle hold is particularly good for babies born naturally, and best when your baby’s neck muscles are stronger after the first month.

Cross-over hold or Cross-cradle hold: In this position, you use both your arms to support your baby. If your baby is feeding from your right breast, use your left hand to hold your baby’s neck, and your left arm to support your baby’s body. At the same time, use your right hand to hold your baby’s head just behind the ears.

You should use this cross-cradle hold if or when your baby is very small and needs more guidance to be brought to the breast for breastfeeding.

Cluth hold or Football hold: This position requires you to hold your baby beneath your shoulder on the side that he or she is feeding, as the name suggests, like a football (here referring to American football, also known as rugby). In this position, your baby’s legs will be behind your body, and your baby’s nose will be level with your nipple. You should use your forearm to support your baby’s back, and his legs could rest on a pillow.

This clutch hold is particularly safe and comfortable if you have had a caesarean section, as it does not require your baby to rest on your stomach where your stitches are still healing.

Reclining position: In the reclining position, you are resting in bed on your side, with the breast you are feeding from resting on the bed. You should have pillows like My Brest Friend Pillow put under you for support, and to try to create a straight line with your body. Your baby should be placed in bed with you, and close enough to your breast so that neither you nor your baby have to bend towards each other for feeding to occur. The only thing you need to do is perhaps to hold up your breast from the bed so that your baby can feed more easily.

This position is necessary if you are recovering from labour that makes sitting up uncomfortable, or if you simply want to rest in bed, especially if you are feeding at night.

Getting help for optimal breastfeeding

Before you leave the hospital, do try to get as much information and reassurance from the lactation consultant, so that you feel more confident about breastfeeding your baby on your own at home. There are also brochures about breastfeeding at the hospital that you can take home to consult should you meet with any difficulties at home.

Sometimes, you just need to experiment and find the most comfortable way to breastfeed for both you and the baby. Do not give up if your baby is fussy. Give it some time, and try to trust that both you and your baby will fall into a breastfeeding routine that works for both of you.