A good (or bad) latch can make or break your breastfeeding relationship. The right latch allows your baby to take in as much milk as possible with each suckle while preventing sore nipples. However, the latch that works for you might not work for another mother, which is why more women need to learn about an asymmetrical latch.
Learning how to use an asymmetrical latch can help make your nipples feel better while ensuring your baby receives all of the milk needed. Unfortunately, not all LCs or pediatricians understand or suggest this recommendation, which is sad because, compared to breast compressions, it could solve many problems.
If you’re interested in learning how to use an asymmetrical latch, here’s what you need to know.
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What is An Asymmetrical Latch?
If you want to understand an asymmetrical latch, you must first understand what a traditional latch looks like.
When you imagine your baby latching onto your breast, you more than likely picture a traditional latch, which is the most common technique used. This is when you latch your baby onto your breast with his mouth centered around your nipple and areola.
Your nipple should be in the center, like a target, and equal amounts of the areola should be outside of his mouth. This is the typical latch that most lactation consultants will show you how to use, but an asymmetrical latch is different.
Once you’ve tried a traditional latch, it’s easy to see how an asymmetrical differs.
With this latch, you place your nipple off-centered in your baby’s mouth. Typically, he will take in more areola near his chin and less above his nose, which means you’ll see more of your child’s upper lip than you will of his bottom lip and chin.
Rather than your nipple being the central target that faces towards your child’s throat, this technique tells you to point your nipple higher, almost towards the roof of your baby’s mouth. That causes his chin to press closer to your breast, but your baby’s nose might not touch at all. If you have larger breasts, learning this latching technique can help you feel less concerned about suffocation.
The Benefits of Using an Asymmetrical Latch
Traditional things are the standard for a reason, so why would we want moms to try a different latch after all these years?
It’s amazing what a slight change or adjustment can make, and the same goes for breastfeeding. When a mom struggles to breastfeed her child and desires to continue to do so, finding small helpful changes is often the key to success.
Here are some reasons you might want to give this latching technique a try.
One of the biggest complaints that new mothers have when it comes to breastfeeding is discomfort. You’re still learning to latch your baby, and a few bad latches can cause your nipples to crack and bleed.
An asymmetrical latch is often easier to get right the first time than the traditional one, which reduces the chances that your baby will latch badly.
Better for Sore Nipples
If you have sore nipples, you aren’t alone. It frequently happens in the early weeks of breastfeeding, commonly due to latching improperly. When you try to use your nipple as a target, it’s easy for your baby to accidentally latch onto your nipple, and only your nipple, rather than your areola. That increases the likelihood of injury.
When you’re using an asymmetrical latch, you have a lower chance of nipple latching.
Efficient Nursing Position for Baby
For some babies, this latching position allows them to remove milk from your breast more efficiently. It can be helpful for babies who are struggling to remove the needed amount of milk.
Easy for Large Breasted Mothers
As mentioned before, large breasts often make mothers worried that their baby’s nose will be blocked while breastfeeding. Using this latch helps to lift your baby’s nose off of your breast.
Also, large breasted women often struggle to get the best latch, and this is another technique that can help you find a position that works for both you and your baby.
How to Use An Symmetrical Latch?
If you want to give this technique a try, here are the steps to follow. Remember, your baby won’t be latched centered on your nipple but rather off-centered. That’s your goal.
Dr Jack Newman is showing you how to do it properly:
Before you try this, remember not to put your hand on the back of your baby’s head. You can keep your hand on the back of your child’s neck and shoulders for support.
Here is how you need to make the asymmetrical latch work for your baby.
- Your baby needs to have a wide mouth, while you keep the base of your hand against his shoulders, letting your baby’s head tilt back.
- The first thing that should touch your breast is your baby’s chin as you bring your baby to your breast. Never bring your breast to your baby; that will cause you to hunch over.
- Your baby’s bottom half is typically lower than your breast, but he should be eye level or close to eye level with your breast.
- As you bring your baby into your breast, his chin will touch first, and your nipple should point towards the roof of his mouth that is opened wide. Your baby will latch onto the breast with his lower lip pointed away from the nipple, letting his tongue draw it in deeply for the best latch.
Give It a Try!
If you’re trying to find the perfect latch to ease discomfort, you need to try an asymmetrical latch. You’re less likely to experience pain, and your baby will have an easier time removing milk. That’s a win-win!