Is your breastfeeding baby latching on correctly?

What you can do if your baby isn’t latching on properly to breastfeed.

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If breastfeeding isn’t as easy as you thought it would be, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Lots of new mums really want to breastfeed but find it’s harder than they imagined. Getting your baby’s mouth properly latched on to your breast is essential, but not always straightforward, as Cate, 27, found out when she had Ed, now 10 months.

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“Ed just didn’t seem to get the hang of feeding,” says Cate. “He kept coming off the breast and seemed to lose interest very quickly. I have quite small breasts, so I wondered if that was the problem. I was also terrified of hurting him so I was very timid about putting him to the breast.”

“Just because you’re a mother doesn’t mean you’ll automatically know how to breastfeed,” reassures breastfeeding expert Sally Inch, an Infant Feeding Specialist at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. “Some mums pick it up very quickly and others need more time. The size of your breasts makes no difference to your ability to breastfeed.”

Cate was determined to persevere. “I ended up expressing some milk and giving it to Ed in a bottle just to keep him going. After a couple of days, things started to improve. It was certainly a case of practice makes perfect, but the help I got from the midwives on the ward was vital. Every couple of hours, they came and showed me how to latch Ed on. Without that, I doubt that I’d have kept going.”

Where to get help with breastfeeding

For help breastfeeding, get in touch with one of the following organisations:

Mums’ stories

“Keep going – it’s worth it”

“My first baby didn’t latch on, so I expressed milk and fed him with a bottle. I continued this for 10 weeks before I got him to breastfeed. So keep going – it’s worth it.”

Harriet, 32, mum to Jack, 1, and Ally, 4 months

“Wait for her to cry”

“I found that if I waited for my baby to cry, she opened her mouth nice and wide and it was easier to latch her on.”

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Sara, 40, mum to Amelia, 9 months

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