Latching and Positioning

When people talk about latch and positioning, they usually refer to them as if they are the same thing; however, this is not the case.LATCHINGRefers to the way the baby takes hold and takes in the breast tissue (the nipple and surrounding areolar area). Good latching is crucial to a good breastfeeding experience. A good latch helps to ensure efficient milk removal (remember milk production is based on milk removal). The better the latch the better the baby is able to remove milk.

There are many different techniques for latching; however the best way is a baby lead latch. In most cases, babies left to their own devices will find a way to latch onto the breast. A comfortable and pain free, latch that allows good milk transfer is ALWAYS the goal.

Some suggestions:

1) Find the right moment

You Ask: How will I know when the right moment comes?
Me: That is easy, look for those early hunger cues (sucking, rooting, mouth motions, tongue sticking out, hands/feet to face, and remember eyes open is an opportunity to feed an alert infant).


3) Unwrap the baby, I love to unwrap the baby before bringing them to the breast.

You Ask: Why, aren’t you afraid of the baby getting too cold?
Me: No, I know that mom will keep that baby warm. I like to get mom and baby as close as possible; the
blankets just get in the way and make it harder for mom and baby to find their groove.

3) Pick a position that you and the baby are comforatable in (see below)

4) Place the baby skin to skin on mom (babies love this)

5) Let the baby lead

6) Be patient and try not to rush the process

7) You can help guide the baby onto the breast, but try not to push or shove (babies do not like that–who would?)

* If the latch is uncomfortable, you can put your finger in the side of the baby’s mouth while they are suckling, break the seal and take the baby off the breast, and try again. If you are unable to obtain a comfortable latch and/or you find that damage is being done to the nipples or areolar area, the area surrounding the nipples, call your lactation consultant to set up a visit. In cases where an infant is not latching well, not only will damage occur to the nipple/areolar area, milk transfer will not be optimized.

Would you like to see a great video on perfecting your baby’s latch? Visit this link and watch a video created by Ameda.


Refers to the way the baby and mom are positioned during the feeding. Although many mothers worry about finding the RIGHT position, I am less concerned. I think mom and baby will find a position that works best for them. Any position that feels right for mom and baby is a good one. Over the years I know that creativity can play a role in finding a good position for your baby to feed, so feel free to try different and new positions out.

However, for the sake of discussion, let me give a brief explanation of some of the positions you may read or hear about in other breastfeeding references.

The Cradle Hold

I would bet that this is the most commonly used position to hold a baby in. In fact given no instruction most parents instinctually hold their baby in this position. Although infants’ sight is not as developed as an adults’, they can see objects and shapes that are approximately 8-12 inches away, and because of that, I believe that they enjoy this position too. As a mom gazes into her baby’s face, the baby can begin to put the familiar sound of their mother’s voice together with the shape and appearance of their mother’s face (infants can hear in the womb and studies show that they prefer the shape of the human face when compared to other shapes).

The Cross Cradle

Although this is my favorite position for helping moms and babies who are having difficulty latching, I recognize that for many this can be an awkward position. In many ways mom ends up holding the baby the opposite way she wants to.

Let me explain. If a baby is going to breastfeed on their mother’s right breast, instead of holding the infant with her right arm, mom will instead support her baby with her left arm while her right hand is positioned near the right breast. I like to use this position for babies who might need a little guidance and have not yet mastered the learned art of breastfeeding. In this position moms can offer assistance and guidance to babies who might need the extra help.

Side Lying

This is my favorite postion for night feedings, in fact I do not know how I could have survived without learning how to nurse lying down in bed. Moms often find it helpful to have a pillow to support their lower back behind them and a pillow in between their legs. Some moms find this position a little tricky in the beginning, but the reality is that babies often love this position and the close contact with mom.
The Clutch or Football Hold
In this position, the baby’s body is place on the same side as the breast offered. Meaning, if you want to nurse on the left side, the baby gets tucked comfortably under moms left arm (see picture). You want to position the baby back far enough that they can easily latch. Use a pillow under the baby to help with the positioning. Moms who may end up having a cesarean delivery, may like this position, since it prevents pressure on the abdominal area.

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