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If you recently had a baby and are starting to breastfeed him, you must know about the proper position of breastfeeding. The way your baby takes your nipple into his mouth while breastfeeding is called ‘latch’. The better the latch, the easier it becomes for your baby to suck milk. The ‘deep latch’ technique can help your baby breastfeed easily. It can also help you get the proper position for breastfeeding and prevent sore or cracked nipples. Deep latch ensures that there is maximum intake of milk for the baby. A shallow latch can affect the baby’s weight gain and can hurt the mother’s nipples and breasts, causing them to be shallow, cracked or injured.
How to Get a Deeper Latch When Breastfeeding
There are a few steps to follow while aiming to get a deeper latch while breastfeeding. They are as below:
- Hold your breast using your index finger and thumb on the edge of the nipple, forming a ‘C’ (football) or a ‘U’ (cross-cradle) shape. Squeeze them together so that your breast gets compressed. Make sure your fingers are kept to the sides as if you are pinching just an inch.
- When bringing your baby’s mouth to the breast, support his head with your thumb on one side near one ear and your third finger close to the other ear. Ensure that the palm of your hand and other fingers are supporting the nape of his neck. Use the heel of your hand to lift between your baby’s shoulders so that his head is slightly tilted backwards.
- With his head tilted back and chin facing up, lift him to your nipple. The nipple should be just above his upper lip. When your baby’s mouth opens, place your breast first into your baby’s lower jaw. Next, tilt your baby’s head forward and place his upper jaw behind your nipple. When you do the latter, make sure to press your thumb down, forming the ‘flattened sandwich’. In this way, you can make your baby’s lower jaw more securely placed than the upper.
- Wait a bit and then release your breast from your fingers. If your baby’s nose is pressed against your nipple, tip his head slightly so that you can see his nostrils while the nose is still touching the breast. You don’t have to press your breast with your fingers anymore.
If you do the above right, then your baby will immediately start breastfeeding, thanks to getting a deep latch on your nipple.
What Are the Signs of a Deep Latch?
You’ve followed the right steps to master the deep latch technique of breastfeeding but how do you know you’ve done it right and your baby is getting the full advantage of the technique? Here are some signs:
- You won’t feel any pain throughout your breastfeeding session, save for a tugging feeling. (in the initial week, you may feel pain when breastfeeding, but it may last only for two minutes before subsiding).
- Your baby’s lower lip will be protruded, like a fish.
- Your baby will suck with a wide-open mouth.
- You will be able to hear your baby swallow the breast milk.
- You can see more of your nipple above the baby’s upper lip than below.
Why Should You Try the Deep Latch Technique?
Even though the deep latch technique is commonly regarded as getting the correct positioning to breastfeed your baby, it has a lot more benefits. Here is why you should try to adopt this technique every time you breastfeed your tiny munchkin:
1. No Sore Nipples
If you try and breastfeed your baby with dry, sore or cracked nipples, it will result in a lot of pain. Sore nipples usually happen from incorrect positioning of your baby during breastfeeding. The deep latch technique will prevent you from getting sore nipples in the first place.
2. More Milk for Your Baby
If your baby gets a deeper latch on your nipple, he will benefit by getting more milk, rather than just having the nipple in his mouth. It will do a whole lot of good to his health.
3. Prevents Breast Engorgement
If your baby gets a deeper latch, he will remove more milk from your breasts leading to less engorgement and better ease for you.
4. Increases Milk Supply
If you have any issue with your milk supply, your baby getting a deep latch can stabilise both the demand and supply of milk due to more of it getting empty every day.
5. Helps a Baby Gain Weight
A better latch means that your baby will get more supply of milk, leading to better weight gain. A deep latch can hence increase the amount of milk your baby drinks in each feeding.
6. Prevents Thrush and Bacterial Infection in a Baby
Since thrush is an infection caused by bacteria which thrive in the milk from your nipples, having cracked or sore nipples can increase the risk of your baby or you developing thrush. A proper latch and good hygiene can prevent that from happening.
Things to Remember
You have to remember a few things while trying the deep latch technique, especially on how to get your baby to latch on deeper:
- Babies have receded chins. If your baby’s head tilts forward, he won’t be able to get his lower jaw correctly positioned under the areola. This can result in cracked, dry, sore, or bleeding nipples for you and poor milk flow for your baby.
- You can achieve the deep latch position using various positions like football, cross-cradle or cradle. But every position becomes easier if you sit up straight and use one or two pillows to support yourself and your baby.
Breastfeeding should never hurt, but if it does, it’s a sign to start trying the deep latch technique. This technique is healthy for both you and your baby. In spite of attempting the deep latch technique, if your baby still has a shallow latch, please get him examined by a paediatrician to check for tongue ties or lip ties.