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Offer your breast by lining up your baby’s nose to the tip of your nipple. This will allow her to smell the milk droplets from your breast and open wide when ready. When your baby opens wide, her nose will move slightly up and away while her chin comes in closer to the areola, the darker part of the breast surrounding the nipple. Sandwich your breast by placing your thumb on top and fingers underneath your breast about half an inch or so away from the areola. When she opens wide, quickly lay your nipple on the mid to far back part of your baby’s tongue. This will trigger a nice deep latch.
If your baby needs a little extra stimulation to encourage her to open wide, cup your breast with thumb on top and forefinger underneath, and lightly touch your baby’s lips with your nipple. This may be enough to stimulate her rooting reflex and a wide-open mouth.
A good latch should not cause discomfort. You should hear a pattern of several sucks, a pause, and then a swallow when she’s actively feeding. As your baby continues to nurse, she will become more relaxed, then release your breast when satisfied.
Some additional signs to see if your baby is latched on well: her nose should not be shoved into your breast but her chin should be slightly touching it; your baby’s lips should seal around as much of your areola as it can but does not have to have the whole areola in her mouth. After a feeding, your nipple shape should not look pinched or discolored.
Don’t panic if it takes several tries to get your baby to latch on. If the feeding is painful or feels like your nipple is being pinched, gently break the suction between your baby’s gums and your breast. You can do this by simply placing a clean finger between the two before taking your baby off your breast and trying again. Sometimes these things take a little extra time and practice.
Reach out to a lactation consultant if you're having trouble establishing a good latch or have any questions or concerns. Getting your baby to latch on may sound simple, but it's also very normal to need some help with it in the early phases of breastfeeding.