Can You Tell whether a Baby’s Latch is Good?
Getting the best latch possible when a baby is breastfeeding is crucial for helping mothers with breastfeeding problems and it is one of the skills that we teach mothers at our breastfeeding clinic. A good latch is the basis for:
- Helping a mother with sore nipples.
- Helping the baby get more breastmilk from the breast.
- Preventing future problems such as blocked ducts, mastitis, late onset decreased milk supplyand flow of breastmilk to the baby, late onset sore nipples, “reflux”, “allergy to something in the mother’s milk”.
What does an asymmetric latch look like? The baby covers more of the areola with his lower lip than his upper lip and the chin is in the breast but the nose doesn’t touch the breast – the reason for the baby’s nose not touching the breast is not to help the baby breathe but rather to help the baby latch on as best possible and be able to better stimulate the breast with the lower gums and tongue and thus to get as much breastmilk as possible and to prevent or treat the underlying cause of sore nipples.
Take a look at the two photos below labeled photo 1 and photo 2, both are photos of the same baby. Which of the photos shows a better latch – in other words, which of the photos shows a more asymmetric latch?
You can find the answer if you read on. If you need help with the answer, read an article with photos which explains what an asymmetric latch is.
At our clinic we have more than 30 years experience helping mothers with the asymmetric latch, and our lactation consultants have had training and have developed their skills to use the asymmetric latch to help mothers with a large variety of breastfeeding problems.
ANSWER: When you look at the two photos, photo 1 shows the baby latched on in a “traditional”, symmetric latch, which often works well, the baby receiving milk well, and the mother is not experiencing problems with breastfeeding, especially sore nipples. In photo 1, the nose is close to the breast and the attachment is “bull’s eye” rather than asymmetric. Photo 2 shows an asymmetric latch which is better especially if the mother and baby are having difficulties with breastfeeding. The asymmetric latch works well to prevent problems in the first place. In photo 2, there is a space between the baby’s nose and the breast, the baby’s head is more tilted back (more extended) and the baby covers more of the areola with his lower lip than his upper lip with the nipple pointing more towards the roof of the baby’s mouth.
The asymmetric latch works better because the baby has more of the breast over his lower gums, and it is the lower part of the mouth that moves and stimulates the breast to release its milk. Imagine in photo 2, above, the baby’s jaw is moving. In effect, the baby’s jaw and tongue are stimulating the breast as if the baby had a much “deeper” latch. Perhaps the next photo illustrates this better.
The answer to the question in the beginning of the article is photo 2.
If you need help with breastfeeding, make an appointment at our clinic.
Copyright: Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, Andrea Polokova, 2017, 2018, 2021