The Newborn Latch: Instructional Breastfeeding Video


On this site there is a series of three videos with a male physician teaching the mother how to get her baby to latch on. The videos are wonderful. (It will say 1 of 3, 2 of 3, and 3 of 3 for a total of three mini videos in the series. Each are about 3-4 minutes long.)

One of the things that this physician says is that he has worked around the world in Africa and South America. He states that in these countries the babies are on the breast for hours but in North America people become horrified if a mother is nursing for more than 20 mintues a side. This is actually something that my doctor had advised me against as well. Inform yourself about the possibilities related to breastfeeding. He also states that mothers aren’t taught how to properly breastfeed while in the hospital and promotes more education around breastfeeding properly.

Here is information in a text form if you like from a website I found.

“Attaching the baby to the breast correctly is the first and most important step towards successful breastfeeding. The vast majority of breastfeeding problems are caused by improper latch-on (the second leading cause of breastfeeding problems is feeding on a schedule instead of on demand). Here are some problems that incorrect latch-on may cause:

  • Sore nipples. These result when the baby holds just the nipple in her or his mouth instead of opening up her or his mouth wide and taking in a good mouthful of breast tissue.
  • The baby cannot milk the breasteffectively unless she or he is latched on properly. The milk reservoirs are located behind the nipple under the areola. A baby who is sucking on just the nipple cannot compress the milk reservoirs to get the milk out. This may lead to:
    • Engorgement. Your milk comes in and the baby can’t remove it from the breast. Your breasts can become engorged.
    • Mastitis. Engorgement that is left untreated can lead to plugged milk ducts and mastitis. The treatment for engorgement is emptying the breast. If your baby does not latch on correctly, she or he cannot empty the breast.
    • Poor weight gain. If your baby does not latch on correctly, she or he does not get enough milk. Furthermore, most of the milk she or he gets will be the thin foremilk. Your baby may fail to thrive.
    • Insufficient milk. Your breasts make more milk as they are emptied. Milk left in the breast tells your body to slow down milk production. If your baby is not latching on properly, you may lose your milk supply.

OK, so it’s really important to latch the baby on properly. Fortunately, it’s not very hard (although it takes practice; it might take anywhere from a few days to two months for your baby to become a pro at this). Here are a few things to pay attention to:

  • Take full advantage of your baby’s rooting reflex.
    • The rooting reflex has two parts: turning and opening the mouth.
      1. When you touch your baby’s cheek or lip lightly, she or he will turn her or his head towards the touching object.
      2. She or he will also open her or his mouth really wide, as in a big yawn.
      3. Soon, your baby will learn that your breasts are her or his source of comfort and nourishment, and she or he will turn her or his head from side to side and open her or his mouth whenever she or he wants to nurse.
    • If your baby is already facing your nipple, you can just tickle her or his lip with your nipple until she or he opens up really wide.
    • If the baby is facing away from the breast, tickle her or his cheek with your nipple When she or he turns toward your breast, tickle the lip with your nipple.
    • Make sure you continue tickling until your baby opens up reallywide. Don’t try to attach a baby whose mouth is only slightly open, or you might have sore nipples and all the other problems associated with improper latch-on.
    • A very common mistake is to try to push and turn a baby’s head towards your breast. The rooting reflex makes the baby want to turn towards the pushing object. Many people interpret this to mean that the baby is turning away from the breast. They say the baby “rejects” the breast, and resort to artificial feeding. Don’t fall into this trap! Just tickle the baby’s cheek with your nipple, and she or he will turn towards the breast.
    • When the baby opens up really wide, pull him towards your breast all the way to your chest. It’s important to pull the baby close to make sure she or he gets a good mouthful of breast instead of just the nipple.
  • When a baby is correctly latched on:
    • Her or his lips should be flanged out, not sucked in. You should be able to see the inner surfaces of the lips on your breast.
    • Her or his tongue should be covering the lower gum. You can see this by pulling the lower lip slightly out.
    • Her or his cheeks should not be dimpled. Dimpled cheeks during sucking indicate poor latch-on and suction.
    • Her or his nose should be touching your breast. If the baby’s nose is away from your breast, she or he is sucking on just the nipple. You’ll have sore nipples, and the baby won’t get enough milk.
  • You might wonder whether you should hold your breast with one hand while you are breastfeeding.
    • You can hold your breast to make it easier for the baby to latch on.
    • If you do, make sure your thumb and fingers are well behind the areola.
    • Many people do a good job of keeping the thumb way back, but they put their fingers too close to the areola, just behind the nipple. Avoid this! Your baby needs to take in as much breast tissue as she or he can comfortably fit into her or his mouth. If your hand is too close to the nipple, the baby will just take the nipple in. You’ll get sore nipples.
    • Avoid the “scissor hold” in which you hold your breast between your index finger and ring finger. This style of holding the breast very often causes the baby to latch on to the nipple instead of to the breast.
    • Use the “C” or “U” hold, where you form a C or U shape with your thumb and fingers (as if you are holding a water glass). Hold your breast so that its compressed shape is in line with the baby’s open mouth (remember, you are doing this to make it easy for the baby to take in as much of the breast tissue as possible).
    • You can also hold and lift your breast to bring it to the level of the baby’s mouth. This is useful for mothers with large soft breasts.
    • You don’t need to worry about pulling the breast back from the baby’s nose to let the baby breathe. Babies’ faces are made for nursing. They can breathe with no problems with their faces smushed right into your breast. Pulling the breast away from the baby can lead to improper latch-on and sore nipples.
    • If you have flat or inverted nipples that stand out when you squeeze the areola, hold your breast so your nipple protrudes until your baby is latched on.
    • Once the baby is latched on and nursing, you can usually let go of the breast.
    • If your baby is able to latch on correctly without your holding your breast, you don’t need to hold it. Women with smaller breasts are more likely to be able to nurse a young baby without holding the breast. As your baby grows, you’ll probably find that you won’t need to hold your breast, no matter how large or soft it may be.
  • If your baby is not latched on correctly, remove her or him from the breast and try again. You should keep trying until the baby gets it right, even if you have to try twenty times. Pretty soon, your baby will learn to latch on properly, and will be able to do it without any help.”


Breastfeeding Isn’t About Sex

A baby sucks on your breast. Is that a sexual experience? No. Might there be a sexual response that occurs from time to time in the mother while her child is nursing? Yes. So let’s look at this issue a little more closely. First of all, the idea that breastfeeding might cause mild sexual arousal is not something to be swept under the rug. It’s a natural biological response. We do not need to be afraid to talk about it. As a matter of fact, I think a graduate student at the University of Minnesota might be writing her dissertation on this very topic as we speak.

The author of another blog felt anxious that breastfeeding might produce sexual feelings. I’m sure that any sexual feelings a mother might have will differ from child to child, from mother to mother, from breast to breast, and from year to year, depending on the age of the child.

I can tell you from my experience that the first days of breastfeeding can be very difficult and it’s a job, not something that’s fun. (Remember, I’m speaking from my experience and my experience alone.) This is especially true if you’ve just undergone major surgery to have the baby removed from your body and especially true if for some reason the latch is painful. And forget about modesty. By the time I had that baby I didn’t care who saw my breasts. I can’t even recall how many nurses, friends and lactation consultants put their hands on my breasts while the baby was sucking away. They were helping the baby to latch and then examining her latch. I was just trying not to scream.

As she got older and her mouth got bigger, the pain subsided. This probably took about six months. Before that any time my milk would let down I would have searing pain that ran around the front of my body and into my back. Pumping is no fun either. You literally feel like a cow hooked up to a machine. My sister walked in on me one morning while I was pumping and just stared. She said, “It’s like looking at a train wreck. It’s so horrible, but somehow you can’t manage to look away.” It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t feel pretty.

Any sexual arousal experienced during breastfeeding is a biological response. I’m assuming people experience it otherwise why would a graduate student be studying the topic. As for the idea that a nursing toddler might somehow experience some inappropriate sexual experience while nursing, that is ludicrous. The toddler associates nursing with two things: food and comfort. Most nursing toddlers won’t even remember nursing as a young child and if they do it will be something along the lines of “Mama Milk” or “Num-Num” and that will be that. Even as a non-breastfed baby ages she will be wanting to lay on mama’s chest and feel the warmth of her breath, the softness of her breasts and the relaxing sound of the heartbeart. These are close to the experience of being an infant or being inutero. My three year old still goes to sleep most easily while I am carrying her in a sling. Luckily she is quite petite. She feels safe and warm and close to the source of milk. She can sense it and can feel my warmth. She’s not nursing and there is nothing sexual about the experience.

The sexualization of breastfeeding for me is not the act of nursing that occurs between mother and child. The sexualization of breastfeeding is what comes from the media and the public, as it did in this last Time Magazine issue and as it does when a woman is breastfeeding in public and there are men around. Because breasts are so sexualized in our culture, as compared to other cultures, breastfeeding in public is put in the same category of nudity. In some culture more remote cultures women walk around without shirts on. No one is gawking, no one is repulsed. No one is being asked to leave the village to nurse. It is a cultural norm. In the current U.S. society, we need to make the shift from breasts as objects of lust to breasts as objects of nutrition and bonding. And men, this isn’t a job solely for women, it’s a job for you as well.

Related Sites:
A photographer captures of the beauty of breastfeeding women and babies.
Breastfeeding around the world.