|Photo from La Leche League International|
When beginning to breastfeed, and throughout your breastfeeding career, achieving a proper latch is the key to ensuring a comfortable experience for you (no cracked or bleeding nipples) and a satisfying experience for your baby (milk in his tummy!). Know this: Breastfeeding should not hurt! If it does, you must re-examine your baby's latch. A poor latch leads to hurt, sore, and "traumatized" nipples, which leads to frustration, pain, and disappointment. If you find that you're experiencing pain from breastfeeding, seek help as soon as possible. The sooner you can fix a bad latch, the less likely it is you will endure more severe nipple pain. If possible, seek help from a lactation consultant in your area. Some will consult over the phone, which can help, but for latch problems, it's best if a lactation consultant see you and your baby feeding in action. Often, hospital maternity wards will have lactation consultants on staff. Call the hospital to ask if you can stop by for a consultation. Otherwise, search for a private lactation consultant in your area.
If a lactation consultant is not available or if you've already seen someone and want more information, YouTube is an excellent resource. YouTube contains several videos that demonstrate -- with a live baby & mom -- a good latch. Search YouTube with phrases like "good breastfeeding latch," "how to get a good latch," and "good latch bad latch." Watch a few different videos to see how babies are positioned at different angles, and how a good latch looks looks on moms with different breast size and appearance, and with babies of different ages.