Attachment is the key to comfortable breastfeeding
‘Attachment’ means how your baby’s mouth is attached to the breast so he or she can feed. A ‘good attachment’ means there is no pain or discomfort for mum and baby is able to get as much milk from the breast as he or she needs.
A baby who attaches well to the breast can help prevent many breastfeeding problems and good attachment also helps ensure a good milk supply so baby grows well.
Babies breast feed, rather than nipple feed so good attachment involves baby having a good proportion of the areola (the red/brown area surrounding the nipple) in their mouth, rather than just the nipple itself.
To check that baby is attached well, look for these signs:
- Chin is pressed into the breast and nose is clear or only just touching the breast.
- Lips are flanged out, not sucked in.
- Tongue is forward over the lower gum (may be difficult to see — don’t pull him away to check or you might detach him).
- Your baby has much of the areola in his mouth, more so on the ‘chin side’.
- There is no pain (new mums may feel a stretching sensation as the nipple adjusts to being drawn out).
- You may notice your baby’s whole jaw moving as he sucks and even his ears wiggling. He should not be sucking in air or slipping off the breast. His cheeks should not hollow as he sucks.
Breastfeeding should not hurt and pain while feeding can be a sign that attachment isn’t quite right. If breastfeeding is painful you should seek help from your midwife, child health nurse, lactation consultant or Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor.
For more information on breastfeeding, visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s website www.breastfeeding.asn.au or read more about attachment here with breastfeeding attachment 101