Breastfeeding Latch and Positions
Although this page, along with hundreds of books and thousands of other websites, will tell moms the exact way she should hold her baby for the best latch - it is very important to remember this one thing:
Babies are born knowing how to breastfeed - breasts are intentionally colored like a target so babies can see where to go and if mom is laying back, relaxed and patient, a naked baby lying on a naked mom's belly can usually get herself started breastfeeding with little to no help at all!
The basic things to remember with a breastfeeding latch are:
Baby needs a BIG mouthful of breast tissue to get a good latch. The big mouthful will help keep your nipple in the soft part of baby's mouth so it doesn't hurt as much and it will help baby be able to get the most milk possible with each suck.
Baby will NOT suffocate at the breast while breastfeeding - you don't have to hold your breast out of the way.
Bring the baby TO YOU, don't bend over funny or try to put the breast into baby's mouth (you might end up with a sore back this way.
BELLY TO BELLY! Baby will feed better if baby is all in a line - meaning the head and chest are facing the same direction. (just so you know how it feels, try turning your head and then swallowing - not easy is it?) Be sure that baby's WHOLE body is turned into mom so the head and body are all in one line.
There are there basic holds
Cradle hold - this is the way you see a mom holding her baby in most baby books, just holding baby across her chest with baby's head in the crook of her arm.
Cross-cradle hold - In this hold, baby is still laying across mom's chest but this time mom is holding baby with arm that is opposite of the side where baby's head is and then using the same side arm to help hold breast as her other hand helps to bring baby to breast.
Football hold - Think of a line backer running down the field with a football tucked into his arm. Baby is held on one side of mom using the arm that is on the same side of the body as the breast that baby will be nursing on, with baby's feet heading towards mom's back.
But you can also just lie back and have baby lay with baby's head in between mom's breast and let baby crawl to a good latch all on her own as well.
Sometimes a video is worth a million words
Here are a few favorites.
Here is a video showing you the breast crawl - a baby who just after being born self latches. The video is filmed in an Asian country and has some very flowery music - but if you can mute the volume and scroll ahead to 2:30 - you can see the amazing action of a newborn self latching and breastfeeding with no help at all - it is really quite cool!
Here is a link in case the video above doesn't play - http://youtu.be/e9WtH4dq-cw
Below is a fantastic video from Amada on a baby's latch with an animation to help us see what is happening INSIDE the baby's mouth when baby latches.
Here is the link if the above video doesn't play - http://youtu.be/Zln0LTkejIs
If you only have a minute, scroll ahead to 0.50, there is a great animation on the baby's latch and how important it is to get enough of the breast tissue into the baby's mouth so that the nipple doesn't rub on the hard palate (where it can really hurt!).
Here is nice video from Baby Center showing a mom feed her baby with the help of a lactation consultant - click on the picture to go to the video.
Here is the link if the above video doesn't play - http://youtu.be/2RHIb_-a6bg