Latching is a very important condition for successful breastfeeding. Only if your baby is latched in the right way, it can drink the breast well and feeds enough. A proper latch also prevents problems such as cracked nipples and breast inflammation for the mother.
The first hour after birth, your baby is awake and alert and has a strong sucking reflex. It is important to make use of this. If your baby sticks out the tongue and makes smacking noises, you can try to latch on the baby and it will usually start sucking immediately. That first time nursing has an imprinting effect: this drinking technique is now stored in the brains. As a result, your baby will know exactly how to drink the next time it is breastfed.
Latching on within an hour after birth has even more advantages:
- Your baby will drink colostrum immediately. This is the very first feeding your baby will get. Colostrum contains many antibodies and has a laxative effect, so it stimulates the intestines to release the meconium (the first sticky, green stool after birth.
- Your baby sucking your breast makes the uterus contract properly, which limits the blood loss.
- While your baby comfortably lies against you and drinks, you can get acquainted in tranquility.
- Skin-to-skin contact stimulates the bonding between mother and child and also stimulates your milk production. Even after a Caesarean section, we advise to breastfeed the baby within one hour. This can save you a lot of time and energy later in the maternity period. Sometimes a baby does not want to suck the breast immediately after birth. That’s fine too. There is still plenty of time to practice in the days after the birth.
After latching on for the first time, latch on about every two to three hours (this could be 8-12 times per 24 hours). If your baby does not wake up by itself during the day, wake him / her at least every 3 hours.
With every feeding you stimulate the baby to drink from both breasts to stimulate milk production. In principle, your baby is allowed to drink until it falls asleep or releases the breast itself. Always check whether your baby is actively feeding while latched on to the breast, this usually decreases after 15-20 minutes. You can then stimulate the baby to release the breast.
A baby usually starts feeding with a few quick sucks to initiate the milk flow. The baby clearly swallows after one or two sucking movements. Over time, your baby will make more sucking movements before swallowing. If your baby is drinking well, you can see the ears move.
Milk production really picks up from the third or fourth day after the delivery. Your breasts can therefore become very full and tense. This engorgement is temporary and will disappear sooner if your baby feeds well and frequently.
During the first days it is normal for your nipples to be sensitive or sometimes painful for the first 30-60 seconds when latching on. This is caused by the stretching of the milk ducts in the nipple. When the milk flow is initialized, this feeling subsides. After a few days, the nipples are used and the first suction and it no longer hurts. However, for some people it takes longer to get used to than others. If the sensitivity does not decrease after 30-60 seconds and the nursing still hurts, release the baby and re-latch again.
- First sit or lie down when you start nursing your baby.
- Keep your breast in the C or U grip, depending on how your baby is positioned. If you feed lying down, use the C-grip. For most other positions (Madonna, Rugby and Cross-Cradle), use the U-grip. In this way the breast fits most easily in the mouth.
- Make sure that the ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line and that your baby’s tummy is turned towards yourself or to your stomach. If the tummy is facing up, your baby has to drink in an unnatural position and this will cause more pain in your nipples.
- Place your nipple gently on the upper lip of the baby or just above. Wait patiently for your child to open it’s mouth widely, to take a big bite. If your baby is not latching on properly, try again.
- When the big bite is taken, slide your baby towards your breast. Not the other way around! When you bring your child to the breast, your child will get the best sucking reflex. However, many mothers are inclined to “help” their baby by putting the breast in their mouth. Unfortunately, this gives a less good sucking reflex and therefore works less well.
- If your child is breastfeeding, it is important that both lips of the baby are curled outwards and the mouth is wide open. This is how he / she can best hold the vacuum. So your child not only has the nipple, but also the areola in its mouth.
Pain during breastfeeding is not intended. In that case, release your baby gently by breaking the vacuum by pushing your pinky finger in the mouth of the baby. And then try to latch again.
If you can’t manage to latch your baby or if he / she doesn’t want to breastfeed, it is important to start stimulating your breasts yourself. This is best done with a breast massage, where you massage drops of colostrum from your breast. These drops of colostrum are collected on a teaspoon and given to your baby by spoon. There is a good chance that your baby will wake up and become alert, so the latching will work.
If not, at least your breast has been stimulated and your baby has received high-calorie food. You then try to latch on again with the next feeding.
If latching on is still not successful after 24-48 hours, it is advisable to start expressing the breastmilk with a pump. This is best done with an electric pump. You can rent these at various places in the region. Your Kraamverzorgster will give you this information.
During the first days, when there is still little milk, you can give the expressed milk with a teaspoon or a special syringe. Feeding with a cup is also possible (cup feeding). This is preferable to a bottle. In the meantime, it is important to keep practicing with latch on, possibly under the guidance of a lactation consultant. As soon as your baby starts to breastfeed better, you can reduce the expressing of the milk.
When circumstances separate you and your baby, it is important to start expressing as soon as possible. It is best to express at times when you would normally breastfeed your baby. In addition, it is important to know that expressing more often, but for a shorter time, is more effective than expressing less frequent bur for a longer time.