breastfeeding attachment – Tips for optimal breastfeeding attachment

Getting your baby to properly attach to the breast is very important in order to properly drain the breast of breast milk, and to avoid major issues down the track such as grazed and sore nipples. A well attached baby will feed well and put on weight, and should not cause any pain to the breast. If a baby is not attached properly this can lead to mastitis which is caused by blocked ducts in the breast and needs to be treated with antibiotics by your doctor or GP to clear.  Breastfeeding attachment is important for both baby and for your own breast health.

Prior to breastfeeding attachment:

To start with make sure your baby is calm. If you feel that your baby is not calm, you can try soothing techniques such as skin to skin contact or other techniques such as rocking or stroking your baby. Breastfeeding is as much a natural process as a learned skill for many mothers, whether it’s your first, second or third time. You will also start to recognise feeding cues from your baby such as turning their head from side to side and sticking their tongue out which is important for you to see the signs of a hungry baby.

Ready for optimal breastfeeding attachment:

Once your baby is calm, guide the baby to the breast. There are a number of positions you can adopt for breastfeeding, including the cross cradle hold, underarm football, or lying down.

Steps to attach your baby in the cross-cradle hold

  1. Make sure your sitting with your back and feet supported. Position your breastfeeding pillow onto your lap.
  2. Hold your baby along your forearm, supported on your breastfeeding pillow.
  3. Turn him onto his side with his chest towards you, head tilted slightly back, at the same level as your breast. His nose should be level with your nipple.
  4. Gently brush your baby’s mouth with the underside of your areola. Your baby should open his mouth wide when you do this.
  5. Some women find holding the breast (like you would a sandwich) allows the baby to take in more of the breast and therefore easier to attach.
  6. When your baby opens his mouth wide and his tongue comes forward over his lower gum, bring him quickly to the breast with your nipple aimed at the roof of his mouth. His first point of contact will be his lower jaw or chin, on your areola well down from the nipple.
  7. As his mouth closes over the breast he should take in a large mouthful of breast.
  8. Some women find that their breasts become engorged, especially soon after their milk comes in. If this happens, then expressing them prior to feeding the baby will help to soften around the areola therefore attach more easily.

breastfeeding attachment

Checking your baby is well attached for best breastfeeding attachment:

  • Chest to chest and chin to breast is a quick way of describing good positioning. His whole body should be very close to yours, like you are ‘wearing’ him.
  • Not sure about pain? There should be only a stretching sensation as the nipple adjusts to being drawn out, but breastfeeding shouldn’t feel painful.