Breastfeeding: Positioning, latch and attachment

Breastfeeding: Positioning, latch and attachment

In the beginning, when breastfeeding a newborn, paying special attention to positioning and attachment is important to avoid a poor or shallow latch that will hurt your nipples and make feeding difficult.

That said, there is no right or wrong here, as long as your baby is getting and drinking milk, and you know this because baby is having plenty of wet and dirty nappies, and you are not in pain then happy days!. If you stand on your head to feed and that works for you and baby, then so be it (and we salute you!).

The Early Days

In the early days (and beyond!) your baby will be feeding very often, so it’s important that the latch is good to avoid nipple damage and to achieve optimum milk transfer.
A good latch looks like this:

  • Baby is comfortable snuggled up to mum, tummy to tummy, or without having to turn his or her head to get to the breast.
  • Baby is able to tip his/her head back
  • Baby’s lips are visible and ‘flanged’ outside the nipple (think ‘fish lips’) when he/she is latched on
  • There is little or none of the areola visible when baby is latched on (did you know milk comes out from the whole dark part of the breast/nipple – not just the knobbly bit!!)
  • Baby is rhythmically sucking and swallowing – visible by the movement behind baby’s ear when he swallows
  • While baby is feeding it is not painful (it might feel a little ‘pinchy’ at first but that should not continue throughout the feed)
  • After the feed your breasts feel a bit softer or at least if they were very full – they are not afterwards, baby seems content and has wet and dirty nappies appropriate to his age (see this chart for details)

If you find it hard to get a good and comfortable latch it would be a good idea to seek help either from a Cuidiú or la leche league volunteer or group or from a qualified lactation consultant. Most latch issues are easily solved so please don’t lose heart and don’t ‘wait and see if it gets better’, it probably won’t without help!

So what position is best?

Well, that’s up to you. We firmly believe in the benefits of laid-back breastfeeding or biological nurturing, especially in the early days of breastfeeding. This technique is very easy to do and is really a hands-off approach where mum simply lies back on a pile of pillows and allows baby to find the nipple and latch on himself. This is usually the perfect latch for you both!

Feeding this way provides mum with some much-needed rest when she’s recovering from pregnancy and birth. It provides a wonderful opportunity for skin-to-skin contact with all its wonderful benefits and it also allows baby to use his or her senses and work on his neck strength and muscle development while crawling to the breast and latching on when he finds it! That’s not to mention all the lovely cuddles and kisses you’ll share while your baby is nursing. Laid back breastfeeding is also useful for a fast letdown of milk and healing if your nipples are damaged and sore.

Source of information

There is great information on laid-back breastfeeding at:
La Leche League Website 

Other positions you might see and hear about are:

Some useful pictures from www.plumtreebaby.com

Some useful pictures from www.plumtreebaby.com

And you can learn more about them here: http://www.lalecheleague.org/faq/positioning.html
If you have been feeding in a particular position and your nipples have become sore, changing position for a few days can really help the soreness heal up. For example, if you’ve been using the cradle position, try laid back breastfeeding or the rugby clutch position for a few feeds and see if that helps. If it doesn’t – get help.
The important thing to remember is that every day you and baby will gain skill and confidence and soon you’ll both be pros! At that point, it doesn’t matter what position you or baby is in while nursing. You can even feed on the go in a sling!

(This article on breastfeeding was written by Lisa and Emily and appeared originally on www.eumom.ie)

About the author: Lisa Wilkinson

Lisa Wilkinson

Lisa opened The elbowroom in February 2003. Mother to Tuilelaith and Sean, director of The elbowroom and with a crew of over 60 staff, she is a busy bee. Lisa leads a team committed to bringing health and vitality to all of her clients. Lisa currently teaches in our yoga training programs and oversees pregnancy yoga and mum & baby yoga. Lisa works hard developing healthy food choices for Yin & Tonic @ The elbowroom. She specialises paediatric and pregnancy with workshops, yoga therapy, and craniosacral therapy.

The elbowroom has an extensive range of classes for all ages and abilities. We offer such an eclectic mix to enable you to find something that will suit you. If you need any advice, please contact our class advisor who can point you in the right direction.