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 health visitor for help getting your baby to latch on correctly, or call one of the helpline numbers below.
- National Breastfeeding Helpline, open every day from 9.30am – 9.30pm: 0300 100 0212
- National Childbirth Trust (NCT) – breastfeeding and antenatal support. Breastfeeding helpline, open every day from 8am – 10pm: 0300 3300 770
- The Breastfeeding Network – breastfeeding helpline, open every day from 9.30am – 9.30pm: 0300 100 0210
- Bengali/Sylheti Supporter line: 0300 456 2421
- La Leche League – 24 hour breastfeeding helpline: 0845 120 2918
- Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) – breastfeeding helpline: 0870 401 7711
- Start4Life- Breastfeeding