Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Start Right - The Elusive Latch


While I'm thinking about it (and I often am) I wanted to jot a few things down about the latch.
 
So many things come back to it, so its well worth revisiting. A significant proportion of breastfeeding problems come back to an incorrect, or inefficient latch.
 
Sore nipples - almost always a poor latch
Other things to cause soreness - tongue tie, Raynauds
 
Poor milk supply - an inefficient latch - baby not feeding very efficiently, so not draining the breast effectively and stimulating further breastmilk production
Other things to cause poor supply - baby not feeding very often, extreme malnutrition in the mother
 
Mastitis - Infected blocked ducts are often caused by poor drainage of the breast. Engorgement may then result in mastitis. If the latch isnt right, then particularly in the early days, engorgement may result.
 
My Tips for a Great Latch
 
* A baby can breastfeed from many 'directions' hence the various 'holds' like cradle and rugby hold (under the arm closest to the breast). The direction doesnt matter. Just be comfortable.
* Trust that your babys instincts will help
* Keep your hand OFF the BACK of the babys head - she needs to tilt her head back to get a decent mouthful of the areola surrounding the nipple. If you recline, then your baby can better support him/herself. Put your otehr arm to the SIDE of the babys head if necessary
 * Nose to Nipple - if you do this, brushing the babys nose with your nipple will stimulate baby to open their mouth really wide - with the back of the head unrestricted, they can tilt back and latch on brilliantly. Nose to Nipple should result in the ideal position. It therefore doesnt matter where on your breasts your nipples are - pointing forward, downward, whichever way.
* You can tell a great latch because it doesnt hurt beyond perhaps a few seconds of initial discomfort in the early days.
* You can tell a great latch because of the chubby cheeks puffed out, the lip is curled out underneath, creating a suction
 
BUT WHAT IF IT HURTS?!
 
* Take the baby off by inserting a little finger into the side of babys mouth, release the suction of the latch and start again
* Look at your nipple - is there any redness? If there is, then when you next attempt to latch baby on, you need to position baby TOWARD the redness...
 
So...

* Redness on the end of the nipple - the nipple isnt far enough into the babys mouth - when youre latching ehr on, wait until the mouth is at its widest and bring baby on quickly
* Redness to a side of the nipple - the redness is excessive stretching, which means the nipple isnt comfortably inside the babys mouth. When you latch on again, adjust the position of the baby - its likely that he/she is either too far over or having to reach up too far. Nose to nipple is just right
 
Some final thoughts (this time)
 
* There is no need to 'prepare' your nipples prior to breastfeeding
* If you do get cracks or sores, then the best way to heal is thorugh moist wound healing, and a pure lanolin ointment like Lansinoh is very soothing and safe for babies too
*Aim to avoid introducing anything else (teats) before 6 weeks. 6 weeks seems to be the magic number where establishing supply and demand are concerned. Wait until after that, and the system is pretty robust by then
* If you experience any or all of these problems then access some local support
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1 comment:

  1. Good information. I've always stressed the importance of a good latch. When a mother can nurse pain free, this directly effects how she feels about breastfeeding and she will likely breastfeed longer. As well baby is happier becuase he's getting more milk!

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