Latching and positions


Things to keep in mind


Am I doing it correctly? The true measure is in the two questions below.


1. Is it effective? Is your baby transferring milk and gaining weight well?

2. Is it comfortable (you’re not in pain)?


If your baby is transferring milk and gaining well and you’re not in pain then the latch and positioning are (by definition) good, even if they look nothing like the “textbook” latch and positioning that you’ve seen in books.


Even if the latch and positioning look perfect (and, yes, even if I told you they were fine), pain and/or ineffective milk transfer indicate that there is in fact a problem.


“Rules and regulations have no place in the mother-baby relationship. Each mother and baby dyad is different and what works well for one mother and baby may not work well for another mother and baby. The important thing to do is to look at the mother and baby as individuals.”– Andrea Eastman, MA, CCE, IBCLC in The Mother-Baby Dance



Lets start from the beginning.


Did you know that most babies are able to latch themselves if given the chance to do so. They know from the very beginning (unless premature or unwell) and physically know how to find the milk.


Babies/ newborns have incredibly poor eyesight and use all five senses to locate and latch on to the breast.  Those little hands are searching for your breast to help bring it closer to their mouth.


They use their lower jaw and tongue to stroke milk from the breast. “When researchers put lipstick on nursing babies' lips, nose, and chin, they usually found a heavy chin print on the breast and a faint nose print, and the mark from the lower lip was much farther from the nipple base than the mark from the upper lip”. Since the milk is in your breast, not your nipple, it makes sense that the lower jaw - the working jaw - needs to be far beyond your nipple, firmly planted on the breast.


If your baby's lower jaw starts out close to your nipple, he will end up chewing on your nipple rather than milking your breast. So instead of "centring your nipple in your baby's mouth" try to "have your baby's lower lip as far as possible from your nipple".


Unwrap your baby and then let him feed, try not to tuck your baby’s hands under his body or swaddle him while breastfeeding.  Tucking baby’s hands can disorient him. Babies need their hands to keep them stable, just like we need our arms to our side or in front of us when we eat.


Keep your baby close; they know what to do better if they can feel you.

Talk to your baby, let them know where you are and that the milk is coming, help them get the first drop of milk so they know dinner awaits.


Babies communicate that they are ready to feed by putting their hands to their mouth; snuffling, snorting, poking out their tongue and opening their mouths. All babies are different and you will soon learn to read their signs, crying normally indicates the later stage of hunger.


Breastfeeding positions

There are a few different holds and positions that you can do.  It is best to do what is most comfortable for you and your baby. You will also find that as they grow older you will find different positions work better.


Remember, breastfeeding/latching is a learned skill. At first you feel uncoordinated and its hard but after a while it becomes easy and your baby will just help itself.





Cross cradle hold

Works well when you're

  • Learning to breastfeed
  • Have a small baby



Underarm hold or football hold

Works well when you’re

  • Learning to breastfeed
  • Have a small baby
  • Had a caesarean
  • You have large breasts
  • Not so good for older babies – as they are too big!



Lying down position

Works well when you're

  • Are finding it to painful to sit
  • Want to rest while feeding
  • Very popular for older babies, especially early morning feeds when it’s cold


Laid back feeding

Works well when you're

  • All the time as its the most instinctive position for babies as they can use their whole body to find the breast
  • If you have a fast letdown
  • If you are small breasted
  • Need to rest
  • If your baby has got excess wind, babies often self burp in this position