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Getting a good latch

mother and baby breastfeeding

How you hold your baby to breastfeed is very important to the success of the feed. But not only does your baby needs to be comfortable to be able to feed, but you do too! We find that most breastfeeding issues can be helped with a slight change to the position baby is held in, or the way they go onto the breast.

This blog will give you a few pointers to remember when getting your baby to latch on for a feed.

A handy way to remember how to position your baby well is CHIN:

  1. CLOSE: Hold your baby’s whole body close, with those little hands and arms moved out of the way. There should be no gap in between your body and your baby’s body – they need to attached to you like Velcro!
  2. HEAD: Let your baby’s head be free so it can tip backwards a little so that their top lip can brush against your nipple.
  3. IN LINE: Make sure your baby is in-line. That means hips and shoulders straight. If you think of having a drink yourself, your head wouldn’t be twisted to the side as you would spill your drink!
  4. NOSE: Make sure your baby has their nose level with your nipple. This is so they can smell the milk and aim your nipple to the back of their mouth.

Sometimes we also say CHINS, with the S standing for sustainable. Whatever position your baby is in for feeding; and that might be the cross-cradle hold, the rugby ball position; or the laid-back position, it is so important that you are comfy too and can hold that position as you could be there for a while.

 So, what happens next? 

When your baby’s mouth opens wide, their chin will be able to touch your breast first, with their head tipped back so that their tongue can reach as much of the breast as possible.

With their chin firmly touching the breast, with nose clear and mouth wide open, they will lift and attach to the breast.

There will be much more of the nipple skin visible above your baby’s top lip than below their bottom lip.

Your baby’s cheeks will look full and they will start to feed rhythmically with a suck swallow action. They will be comfy at the breast while feeding, and you will also feel happy and shouldn’t be experiencing any discomfort. 

If it doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to start again! Release the suction to the breast with your little finger placed into the corner of your baby’s mouth which cause them to free your nipple. Then look at CHINS and try again! 

Breastfeeding is a team effort. You and your baby are learning together, and it takes time to get it right. 

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can contact your health visiting team by phone on:

  • Bracknell Forest: 0300 365 6000
  • Wokingham: 0300 365 7000
  • Reading: 0118 931 2111
  • West Berkshire: 0300 303 3944

 There are some good national helplines too, such as: 

  • National Breastfeeding Helpline – 0300 100 0212
  • Association of Breastfeeding mothers – 0300 330 5453
  • La Leche League – 0345 120 2918

About the author

Bethan Fry, Health Visitor