How will you know if your baby is correctly latched to your breast? Your baby needs to feel your nipple deep in his/her mouth to stimulate a correct suckle and milk transfer.
Using your erect nipple, tease your baby's lips with light feather-like touches. Say the word OPEN. Keep repeating and waiting patiently for your baby to respond with a "root reflex" by turning towards your nipple and opening his/her mouth very wide- like a baby bird waiting for a meal. When baby's mouth is wide opened, quickly bring your baby onto your breast pressing the baby's chin into your breast. Do not chase baby with your nipple, but press your baby onto your breast. Free your baby's nose for breathing by pressing your baby's back closer to your body, allowing baby's head to tilt slightly backwards and his/her face to tilt slightly upwards looking at your face. Avoid pulling your breast back away from baby's nose which will dislodge your nipple in your baby's mouth and cause nipple soreness. You may press down gently into your breast with your fingers, if needed, for extra air space.
When your baby is suckling correctly you will feel pulling and suction and pressure. These new sensations may be uncomfortable for you but they should not be painful. Pain means that you will need to ask the nursing staff to help with your latch and to observe you baby's suckling technique. If the pain is not relieved with help from the nursing staff, please contact a board-certified lactation consultant.
When your baby is suckling correctly with your nipple properly placed, you will notice the joint in your baby's jaws right in front of his/her ears moving rhythmically with every suckle. You will also see your baby's cheeks puffing out, and baby's sideburns moving up and down. These wide jaw movements indicate that your baby is actively feeding and receiving your colostrum and or breast milk.
Talk to your baby during nursings. Mealtime is a social event. Conversation encourages your baby to continue to feed.
If you need to remove your baby from your breasts, be careful to avoid nipple damage. With your clean finger, nail clipped very short, pry your baby's jaws open at the corner of his/her mouth. Leave your fingers in place while you back your nipple out of baby's mouth. Many babies will detach themselves from the breast when finished with a feeding feeling full and contented.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.