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May 17, 2024

The Importance of Proper Latching: A Guide for Nursing Mothers

If you are a breastfeeding person, especially if it’s your first time, learning how to recognize a good latch and achieve a good latch is one of the most important factors in successful breastfeeding. An improper or poor latch can impact breastfeeding in any of the following ways: 

  • Nipple pain while breastfeeding 

  • Nipple damage including bruising, cracking, and/or bleeding 

  • Poor milk transfer impacting infant nutrition and weight gain 

  • Inefficient removal of milk, decreasing milk supply 


How to recognize a proper latch: 

  • Look for a flanged lower lip and a neutral or flanged upper lip, making sure upper lip is not tucked under 

  • Wide open gape; Mouth should be open to about 140 degrees 

  • Chin should be touching the breast 

  • Asymmetrical latch: more areola should be in baby’s mouth on the bottom, resulting in more areola showing above baby’s mouth 

  • Should not be painful 

  • Baby should be able to remain latched on through the bursts of sucking 

  • When nipple comes out of baby’s mouth it should not be creased or pinched/flattened 


How to achieve a good latch:  

  • Ensure baby’s body is in the optimal position: Ears, shoulders, and hips should all be in a straight line; front of baby’s body should be touching parent’s body 

  • Allow baby to self-latch, don’t push on the back of baby’s head, only support; can gently bring baby in closer by bringing shoulders closer to parent’s body 

  • Touch nipple to baby’s nose and allow baby to tilt head back to latch, this will assist with getting a deep latch 

  • Try to offer baby the breast at the early signs of hunger; full crying is a late sign of hunger and makes it difficult to get a proper latch 


When to seek help: 

  • If baby has a difficult time staying latched while breastfeeding; baby may slide off nipple or fully come off breast 

  • You hear a “clicking” sound while baby is breastfeeding  

  • Baby coughs or gulps air while breastfeeding 

  • Parent pain with breastfeeding 

  • Nipples are bruised/purple, cracked, and/or bleeding 

*This is not a comprehensive list of when to seek help. If you have concerns, please consult your doctor or your child’s pediatrician.  

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