Recognising effective attachment

It can take a little bit of practice at first to get a baby effectively latched on for breastfeeding. Here’s some guidance as to what you’re looking for.

Spot the difference

These two pictures show a good and a poor attachment for breastfeeding. Can you see the difference?

When a baby has good attachment for breastfeeding, you should see that:

  • Baby’s chin is touching the breast
  • Baby’s mouth is wide open
  • Baby’s lower lip is curled out (don’t worry what the top lip is doing!)
  • More of the areola (the brown area around your nipple) is showing above the baby’s top lip
  • Baby is doing a good impression of a hamster, with full cheeks!

More importantly, you shouldn’t feel any pain at all (although you might experience a slight pressure)

You should also begin to experience a pattern to the way your baby is feeding. They will start with little sucks. These tell your body to ‘let down’ (release) your milk. Your baby will then begin a deeper rhythmic suck and swallow movement, followed by a pause.

If you experience any of the following, it can be a sign that your baby isn’t correctly positioned for breastfeeding:

  • Baby’s mouth and chin are separated from your breast
  • A lot of your areola is still showing, especially below your baby’s lower lip
  • Your baby is taking lots of quick, small sucks rather than getting into a rhythmic sucking pattern
  • Your baby is starting to fuss (because they’re not getting what they need)
  • You’re experiencing pain in your nipple – ouch!

Talk to your public health nurse (health visitor) for help getting your baby to latch on correctly, or call one of the helpline numbers below.

Useful links

ChatHealth logo

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

Leicester City: text 07520 615381

Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382

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