Breastfeeding Support: How to Manage Difficulty Latching

Jan 17, 2024
Breastfeeding Support: How to Manage Difficulty Latching
Are you facing challenges with your little one latching on during breastfeeding? Many new moms experience this struggle. Fortunately, you can overcome latching troubles with support and the right techniques. Here’s what you need to know. 

If you’re breastfeeding your infant, congratulations on making an excellent decision. Breast milk provides your baby with added immunity and all the essential macro- and micronutrients they need.  

The board-certified pediatric providers at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics in Darien and Norwalk, Connecticut, are committed to helping you and your baby enjoy breastfeeding. We know that when challenges arise, they can derail your nursing plans. 

The top challenge new moms deal with is difficulty latching, so if you’re struggling with this issue, you’re not alone. The good news is that you can overcome latching difficulties with the right techniques and support, making breastfeeding more fulfilling for you and your baby. 

Keep reading to learn more about latching and how you can manage issues with this foundational breastfeeding step.  

Understanding latching and its importance

Latching refers to how your baby fastens onto your breast to feed. A good latch is the first step in effective breastfeeding. It helps your baby get enough milk and prevents nipple soreness and discomfort for you. 

It can be difficult to recognize a good latch, so here are some characteristics to look for: 

  • Your baby's mouth covers a large portion of your areola, not just the nipple
  • Your baby’s lips are flanged outwards, like a fish
  • Rather than pain or discomfort, you feel a gentle tugging sensation
  • Your baby's cheeks are rounded, not dimpled or sucked in

Achieving a good latch is a learning process for both you and your baby. It might take time and patience, but getting it right is essential for a comfortable and successful breastfeeding journey.

Top tips for managing latching difficulties

Since latching is key to successful breastfeeding, we’ve compiled our top tips to guide you through this common challenge. 

1. Get comfortable

Comfort is key — if you’re tense, your baby might sense it and become fussy. So when sitting down to breastfeed, ensure you and your baby are comfortable with your arms and back supported and your shoulders relaxed. Find a calm, cozy spot where you won’t be disturbed. 

2. Try out different positions

There’s no “right” position when it comes to breastfeeding. Every mom-and-baby pair is unique, and a position that works for one duo may not work for another. 

If you’re having latching troubles, try experimenting with different breastfeeding positions like the cradle hold, football hold, or side-lying position. Each position offers different advantages and may be more comfortable depending on your and your baby's needs.

3. Encourage your baby

Your baby is born with a rooting reflex that helps them open their mouth and find your breast. Use this to your advantage. Gently brush your baby’s lips with your finger or nipple to encourage them to open their mouth wide. The wider your infant’s mouth, the better the latch. 

4. Provide support 

Sometimes, holding your breast can make a big difference in latching. Try supporting your breast with your hand in a “C” shape (called the C-hold) when offering it to your baby. This can help your infant get a better grip and reduce the strain on your nipple. 

Remember, breastfeeding shouldn't be painful. If you’re experiencing pain, it's a sign that something needs adjusting.

5. Talk to a lactation specialist 

Breastfeeding may be the most natural way to feed your baby, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally to every mom or every infant. Fortunately, special providers, called lactation consultants, have extensive training to help you and your baby. 

At The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, we’ve partnered with IBCLC-certified lactation consultants from Tiny Tummies to give our moms and babies reliable breastfeeding support 24 hours a day, every day of the week. 

In addition to personalized latching assistance, the Tiny Tummies lactation consultants provide support for many breastfeeding concerns, from the most common to the complicated, including:

  • Engorgement
  • Nipple and breast infections
  • Sore nipples
  • Flat or inverted nipples
  • Milk supply challenges
  • Nursing fussy babies
  • Nursing multiples and preemies
  • Managing return-to-work concerns
  • Managing maternal medications while nursing

If you’re dealing with latching difficulties, get the help you need by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone with a lactation consultant from Tiny Tummies and the providers at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics.