Very often parents are told that their baby has a great latch simply because the baby has their mouth on the breast. However, if a baby is attached only to the nipple, the latch is likely to hurt mom’s nipples. This is because a nipple-only latch will compress the nipple in the front of the baby’s mouth, and - because less milk-making-tissue is under the nipple - a shallow latch is also less likely to provide milk for the baby.
That means you want to see your baby’s latch go well past the nipple and compress the areola - this places the breast (and the deeper milk-making-tissue) in the back of the baby’s mouth, where there is only soft palate. When this occurs, baby is are much more likely getting milk (and mom is much more likely to be comfortable!).
In addition to some of the info in previous posts on how to know if baby is getting milk, here are some of our favorite resources describing how to get a deeper, more effective, and more comfortable latch:
This wonderful video from Global Health Media describes the asymmetric latch, and explains why having the baby approach the breast asymmetrically (rather than as a “bullseye”) achieves a deeper latch. This video also describes ways to tell if your baby is probably getting milk.
This amazing animation shows how deeply the breast must be taken into the baby’s mouth in order to get milk.
Another very helpful video, this one from Cherubs Breastfeeding. While describing the asymmetric latch, she uses extremely helpful analogies to help visualize how to achieve a deeper more comfortable and effective latch.
And, one more great video from Janet Jones, IBCLC - highlighting the asymmetric latch using very supportive pillows and the cross-cradle position.
Supporting your breast while feeding also helps baby hold the breast more deeply in their mouth. This also makes it easy to do breast compressions, which help your baby get more milk at a feeding (and also increase supply!) - this wonderful video describes this easy and valuable skill.
Also check out our previous blog posts for more resources relating to effective latching.