Babies and breasts come in different shapes and sizes. This may be a very obvious statement but it bears consideration when we bring babies and breasts together. Suzanne Colson, Nancy Mohrbacher, and Christina Smillie teach us to lie back to achieve good positioning. This often works very well but not for everyone. If a parent lies back and the nipple points downward, the baby cannot get in a position where the chin contacts the breast under the nipple.
In the past, breastfeeding helpers taught the tickle (the lips with the nipple) wait for a wide open mouth, and RAM (rapid arm movement) method. Some providers suggest aiming the nipple toward the palate or brushing the upper lip with the breast and waiting for a wide open mouth. But what comes next? Often the baby’s head is pushed onto the breast and the baby can’t breathe and becomes frustrated. Or the baby is brought to the breast but closes their mouth on the way causing a shallow latch. Why is it so hard?
Again, breasts and babies come in different shapes. Some babies have very receding chins. Some breasts are very round and some are flatter or softer or smaller or larger or…
The best positioning for a particular parent and baby is to be sure that the baby’s chin contacts the breast before latching. Chin contact below the nipple allows a baby to achieve a deeper latch. There are many techniques that can help achieve this positioning (try Googling “laid-back breastfeeding” or “flipple” or “deep latch technique”) but the technique needs to match the shape of the baby and the breast so they come together in harmony.
I absolutely love the following photo for showing how to position your baby.
http://www.cwgenna.com/quickhelp.html (click on “Latching Your Baby 101”)
Whatever your shape or your baby’s shape, if you can achieve chin contact before latching, you may have a more comfortable latch. If not, you might just need more help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.