Breastfeeding: Positioning, latching on & attachment

Breastfeeding is a skill that you will need to learn and as it can take some practice and time for you and your baby to get used to it, don’t worry if you don’t get the hang of it straight away. Before you start, it’s a good idea to find a chair with good support, as you’ll be spending lots of time in it during the early weeks and months ahead. A low straight backed armchair may be more comfortable for you than a cushioned chair or sofa, as your arms, back and feet need to be well supported. There are lots of different positions for breastfeeding (e.g. sitting up, lying down, football or clutch hold.

  • Sitting up to breastfeed: you are well supported and comfortable so you can hold your baby close to your breast
  • Lying down to breastfeed: you and your baby lie on your sides facing each other, with your baby’s knees pulled in close
  • Football or clutch hold: you can sit up while your baby’s head is facing your breast with their body tucked under your arm at your side. Your baby’s bottom can rest on a pillow near your elbow.

Check that you are:

  1. Well supported and comfortable – relaxed without straining any muscles
  2. Positioning your baby to ensure their head and body are in a straight line so they can feed and swallow more easily
  3. Holding your baby close to you so that they are facing your breast
  4. Positioned so that your baby’s nose is opposite your nipple so they can get a good mouthful of breast from beneath the nipple. This encourages them to open their mouth wide and latch well onto your breast

Some babies are able to latch on and suck well from birth, while others need more help and practice. Both you and your baby will determine how well breastfeeding will go in the early weeks.

Latching On/Attachment

  1. Hold your baby close to you with their nose level with the nipple. Some Mums find breastfeeding goes more smoothly if they support their breast while latching and throughout the feeds using the C-hold (thumb on top and four fingers underneath the breast)
  2. Wait until your baby opens their mouth really wide with the tongue down. Gently stroke your baby’s top lip to encourage this
  3. Bring your baby on to your breast, and not the other way around
  4. Your baby will tilt their head back and come to your breast chin first. They should take a large mouthful of breast. Your baby’s nose can rest on your breast and your nipple should go towards the roof of their mouth

Signs of a good latch on are when your baby has taken your breast deeply into their mouth, their chin is pressed in the breast and their lips are relaxed with their tongue cupped beneath your breast. You will also feel more comfortable. You will hear the little feeding and swallowing noises that your baby makes and it is a sound every Mum loves to hear.

Most breastfeeding Mums experience sore nipples in the early days but a good latch on at every feed can really help to prevent this from occurring. It will gradually decrease with time, when the nipples become less sensitive and a good latch is maintained.

You’ll know that your baby is getting enough breastmilk because your baby will:

  • Be happy and satisfied after breastfeeds.
  • Be gaining a consistent and steady weight gain after their first two weeks of life
  • Have at least 6 wet nappies a day after the first few days
  • Will pass at least two mustard/yellow stools a day after the first few days

Your baby goes through growth spurts every 3 weeks and may look to feed even more often during these times. These “spurts” last can last up to 2 days after which the feeding routine can go back to normal. It’s like they are saying that they need even more milk than normal because they have all this growing up to do. Thank you Mum!

Why not call our Freephone Careline on 1800 370 370 if you have any queries on breastmilk positioning or latching on.