Effective latch-on is a learned skill. Your baby is not born hungry. It's OK if he doesn't latch on right away.
To get an effective latch:
With an effective latch, your baby will make bursts of rhythmic sucking. You should hear swallowing. Your baby will suck rapidly until the milk lets down.
When your baby comes off your breast, the nipple should look longer and be evenly rounded.
Try to burp your baby.
If your baby begins to nurse and then falls asleep in fewer than 10 minutes, continue nursing with the same breast. Take your baby off the breast, burp him, and then try to waken him by talking to him, rubbing his back or feet, or taking off some of his clothes. Then offer him your breast again.
When you start to breastfeed, you may feel some gentle tugging discomfort during the initial latching on. Tenderness the first week is normal.
Call your lactation resource if:
Crying is a late sign of hunger. It is best to start a feeding before your baby gets worked up and is crying hard. It can be more difficult to get an upset baby to latch well.
Signs of an ineffective latch are:
Break the seal and relatch. It is important to break the suction before you try to remove your baby from your breast. Slide your finger into the corner of your baby's mouth to break the suction.
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Support your breast and place your baby's head and body facing your body (nose to nipple).
After your baby opens her mouth wide, quickly and gently bring her onto your breast.
Your baby needs to be close to your breast. If you are worried about your baby being able to breathe easily, reposition her a little.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts