Moms who are new to breastfeeding often complain about the pain. Though that can be attributed to a number of factors, painful breastfeeding is almost always a sign that your baby needs to have a deeper latch. Experienced moms will tell you that starting off with a deep latch can prevent many breastfeeding issues, which is why one of the most important questions you can ask your lactation consultant is, "What is the deep latch technique?"
Moms who have trouble breastfeeding often have a baby who nurses with a shallow latch. The Office On Women’s Health defined a shallow latch as when your baby doesn’t have enough of the breast in their mouth, causing pain to the mother and not enough milk for the baby. The deep latch technique positions a baby in a way that more breast tissue is in the baby's mouth which creates a better milk flow and causes less damage to the nipple.
According to Pumping Station, the deep latch technique can be achieved by holding your breast with your thumb and index finger on the edge of the areola forming a "C" shape if using the football hold, or a "U" shape for the cross-cradle hold. You then compress your breast like a sandwich or a taco to make it easier for baby to latch onto. As you bring your baby to your breast, tilt their head back so that their nose touches your nipple just above the upper lip, causing them to open their mouth wide. Finally, you scoop your breast into the baby's open mouth, first resting it on the lower jaw, then tip your baby's head forward so that a large portion of your breast tissue is in your baby's mouth.
When attempting this technique, it's important to make sure to support your baby's head with one hand, keeping your thumb near one ear, and third finger near the other ear, with the web of your hand at the nape of your baby's neck. On her website, Breastfeeding USA Accredited Breastfeeding Counselor Magan Hartless wrote that you should also aim your nipple toward the roof of your baby's mouth, rather than the middle of the tongue in order to help your baby have the ideal deep latch,
In order to have the most success with the deep latch technique, moms need to feel as relaxed as possible. Hartless recommended using several pillows in order to get your body in a comfortable position, as well as to help prop up your baby closer to your breast. Your baby should always be brought toward your breast, as leaning down toward your baby can almost certainly guarantee a poor latch and breast pain.
A few seconds of discomfort is normal when your baby first latches on, but if you have ongoing pain, contact your lactation consultant or your doctor right away. They can help you correct your latch, or treat any medical issues related to the pain.