What is the correct latch on breastfeeding?

Being a new mother and doing breastfeeding for the first time you may wonder whether you are doing it correctly. You may be afraid whether you latch on your baby correctly. Like any other mother you want to give the best to your baby. 

Well, we will discuss today in detail to solve your queries and doubts. It will Help you to take correct steps and also help you to boost your confidence in breastfeeding. You can further post your queries in the comment section or send us whatsapp messages.

What is latch on?

Well, latch on is a term when used in context of breastfeeding indicating attachment of the baby to breast to feed baby.

When done correctly it helps babies to get fed very effectively. It reduces the difficulties and the baby can feed with ease.

Correct latch on is essential and you should learn it as a newborn baby cannot herself or himself do that. Mother should help the baby to latch on correctly.

To make best use of the capacity of your baby to breastfeed you should latch on your baby correctly. Most common problems in babies and mothers arise with incorrect latch on.

What are signs of incorrect latch on?

As you may be wondering whether you latch on your baby correctly, you should help the signs of incorrect latch on. If these signs are present in you or your baby there is a strong possibility that you latch on incorrectly and you need to improve.

So here we discuss some most common signs of incorrect latch on:

Baby cries

If your baby is not feeding adequately or cries after every few minutes it is a sign that probably latch on is incorrect.

Because of incorrect latch on your baby, do not get fed effectively and cry after every few minutes.

Failure to gain weight

Incorrect latch on leads to ineffective feeding in babies leading to failure to gain weight in babies. They may fail to gain or even may lose weight.

Nipple pain

With incorrect latch on, you may experience pain in your nipples. Whenever you try to feed your baby it becomes very painful for you. You are extremely afraid to feed your baby.

Sore nipple

With incorrect latch on position you may get pain as well as inflammation to your nipples. The skin on and around may appear red and their epithelial layer may get removed.

Breast lump

With incorrect latch on the baby cannot suck the breast effectively. They are not drained and the milk accumulated there. It may feel like a lump.

Breast abscess

If this accumulated milk gets infected it causes bacterial infection and can lead to formation of pus. This is called breast abscess.

Failure of breastfeeding

With ineffective sucking after some days there may be failure of breast milk formation and it further leads to incorrect feeding practices.

What is the correct latch on breastfeeding?

Now in the above discussion you have read about signs of incorrect latch on. Here we will see what is the correct latch on breastfeeding.

What is the correct latch on breastfeeding?
Correct latch on
(“Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014” via Wikimedia commons

As you can see in the above image you may have got an idea about correct latch on.

While breastfeeding you should follow some tips given below so that your baby can get fed effectively.

Before starting feeding you should try when your baby is hungry and awake. 

Touch the nipple to the nose or cheek of your baby. Babies have a natural tendency to open their mouths when they are touched to cheek or the nose.

When the baby opens its mouth, you may try to give a nipple in the baby’s mouth. Baby herself tries to rotate the mouth towards the nipple and you may help in that process.

One done correctly the lips of the baby should be outpouching when she is latched on.

Baby should suck nipple as well as the areola around it to do the breastfeeding correctly. With the nipple also the part of the areola should enter the mouth of the baby.

You should take care that the baby can breath and her nose is free from your breast helping her to breath.

When chean is attached to the breast usually it is good as the nose of the baby is free from the breast so that he/she can breath.

When latched effectively the cheek of the babies look filled when they try to get fed. You should allow the baby to feed till she wants or you feel the breast is empty. 

Attach the baby to another breast when the first breast is completely empty.

After feeding the baby you should hold the baby upright so that she can burp.

How to know whether latch on is correct?

With the correct latch on both the baby and mother feel comfortable. Following are the signs that you are latching on correctly.

You don’t feel pain while feeding the baby. With the correct latch on pain in nipples and breast reduces as the baby can feed without you getting injury.

You feel the emptiness of the breast after feeding effectively. With the correct latch the baby can suck the breast very effectively and drink the breast milk. She is able to empty the breast after effective feeding.

Reduced lump formation in the breast is another sign that you are feeding the baby correctly.

Baby gains weight. With the correct latch on and effective feeding baby can gain weight as expected.

Baby sleeps adequately. Usually normal babies need feeding every 3-4 hours. If you are feeding adequately the crying every few minutes reduces to a great extent.

While feeding a baby with the correct latch on you should also support the body of your baby correctly. Her head and baby should be aligned in a line with the baby and head firmly supported.

Ideally the abdomen of your baby should touch that of yours while feeding the baby.

What are factors that affect latch on?

Following are the factors that can make latch on difficult and you should avoid those. You should get treatment for those if needed.

Bottle feeding

Bottle feeding leads to a term called nipple confusion. The nipple of the bottle is different. It does not resemble the nipple of your breast. It is a lot easier to suck a bottle nipple. 

With bottle feeding your baby gets lazy and starts preferring bottle nipple which is easy. He/she can not feed when given breastfeeding as he/she tries to suckle your nipple like a bottle nipple.

Retracted nipples

If you have a retracted nipple baby can not suckle effectively as lact on becomes difficult for them. You should get treated for this condition in pregnancy itself. If not get treated after the birth of the baby.

Cleft lip or palate

If your baby has anomalies like cleft lip or cleft palate she may need further assistance for feeding. With this condition the baby may fail to latch on correctly.


You may be low in confidence and lead to incorrect latch on. Due to effects of hormones during and after delivery it is completely normal that you feel low. In such a state you should get expert help from a pediatrician or lactation specialist to know correct methods.

Breast shields

If you are incorrectly using nipple shields or breast shields as they call it may lead to failure of latch on and breastfeeding.

Sore nipples

If you have sore nipples and it pains while feeding your baby it may lead to incorrect latch on. Indeed incorrect latch on can worsen the sore nipples.

<span class="has-inline-color has-luminous-vivid-orange-color">Dr Yatin Bhole MBBS DCh DNB</span>
Dr Yatin Bhole MBBS DCh DNB

This article was written by Dr Yatin Bhole who is practicing Pediatrician at Bhole Children Clinic, Ravet. This post is for general information and before applying it on yourself, you should meet your doctor or meet us in person.

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