Although breastfeeding is a wonderful and natural process it doesn't always happen instinctively. It's often a skill that new mothers and babies need to learn together. Having a good latch is important to ensure breastfeeding is comfortable for mum and effective for baby. There are lots of people to talk to for support, your midwife, health visitor or a local breastfeeding support worker are all people who can help you with breastfeeding but if you need some advice right here, right now the following steps might help:
Make yourself comfortable
Get yourself set up in a comfortable chair. In the early days feeds can last a long time so you'll want to be able to relax and enjoy this bonding time with your baby. Make sure your back is supported so you can relax back and use cushions or pillows to make sure your baby will be high enough to reach your breast without you hunching over.
Let your baby know it's time for a feed
Get your baby ready by rubbing your nipple on their top lip to encourage them to open their mouth nice and wide. When they have an open mouth move your baby onto your breast with their chin being the first thing to touch your breast so they can scoop your breast into their mouth. Support the baby behind their back and neck, not their head so they can tilt their head back and get a good mouthful of your breast.
Check your baby's mouth
Make sure they have your whole nipple and most/all of your areola in their mouth, this makes sure the nipple is positioned past the hard roof of their mouth and ends up at the back of their mouth against the soft palate. It should look like they have a full mouthful of your breast and their lips clearly visible, like a duck or a fish.
Check baby's position
Their body should be in a straight line against your body. Their neck should not have to twist around to feed and their chin should be against your breast so they can breathe through their nose as they feed.
What to look for during the feed
As your baby gets settled into a good feed you will probably see and perhaps hear them swallowing. You will be able to feel a tugging sensation as they draw the milk out of your breast. You might even see their little ears wiggle as they feed, so you know they're getting a good supply of milk.
Need to adjust or finish the feed?
You baby will create a suction between their mouth and your breast. You need to break this before they come off to avoid it hurting you. Sometimes baby will do this themselves by opening their mouth but sometimes they won't.
If you need to do this yourself pop your little finger in between your breast and their mouth move it between baby's gums as you press down slightly against the skin of your breast. This will release their mouth from your nipple so it will be gently removed from their mouth.
How do your nipples look after a feed?
Flattened, wedged or white nipples at the end of a feed are a sign your baby may not be properly attached or your nipple is not deep enough into their mouth.