How to break latch properly

By October 27, 2015 March 2nd, 2022 Breastfeeding, Classes
mom laying down with her child in bed

Whether breastfeeding is going great from the beginning or is requiring a little more attention and practice, you’ll want this “tool” in your back pocket!  I talk a lot in my classes about having plenty of “tools” or techniques that you are educated on to be able to use in lots of different common breastfeeding situations.  I also explain the difference between the sensation you’ll feel when baby is latched on properly, or pain that comes from an incorrect or poor latch. We definitely want to make sure baby is getting enough milk, and sometimes this doesn’t have anything to do with your milk supply, but more to do with having a good latch.

Good Latch

Some of the ways Moms describe the feeling of a good latch with let-down is,

“It’s a tugging and pulling sensation”, “I feel some pressure there”,  “I feel something, but it doesn’t hurt”.

baby sucking on her mom's nipple

Bad Latch

Some of the ways Moms describe a bad latch are,

“Ouch!”,  “It’s pinching,” and they describe their pain above 5 on a 0-10 pain scale (10 being the worst).

Don’t ‘Muscle Through’

The key to avoiding skin breakdown and sore nipples is to avoid a bad latch for an extended period of time.  I have had some clients who thought they had to muscle through nipple and areola pain because they got bad advice like, “It’s going to hurt, that’s just part of breastfeeding.”  That’s not true!  A good, deep latch will not hurt!  Let me explain this a little further.  Your nipples will most likely feel tender post-delivery.  That is much different than Ouch! Ouch! 9/10 pinching pain.  Also, if you have had an incorrect latch for several feeds to a few days, there may be some pain with a good latch while healing is occurring.  Many women are able to continue breastfeeding during the healing as long as the problem has been corrected. Nipple pain and soreness is one of the top 3 reasons mothers wean their babies!  So what do you do when you are having a lot of pain during baby latches?  Read on!

How to break latch properly

When you have a poor latch, it’s important to break the latch properly, and start over with the latching on process.  Most of the time this problem can be solved by waiting for the infant to open their mouth wide, and also bringing them onto the breast deeply.  There are two ways to break the latch properly.

Insert your finger into the corner of baby’s mouth– push back in between the gums

Roll the baby’s top lip back toward baby’s nose

Tip: this can take both hands! Make sure baby’s head and baby’s neck is comfy and supported with a pillow.


mom finishing breastfeeding 018-storyboard

019-storyboard breaking a latch

I hope this helps!  More great tips, pictures, and video tutorials in my Breastfeeding video classes, available to view at your convenience.  No need to ‘sign up’, just click and watch.  Also the classes come with a notes outline, can be watched as many times as you like, and never expire!  I’m running a great giveaway today on instagram and be sure to download my free PDF, ‘Top Ten Tips for BreastfeedingSuccess’. And don’t forget: for any issues with breastfeeding , an IBCLC, or lactation consultant can help you by providing 1:1 breastfeeding.

Here are some other topics you may be interested in reading about before meeting with a consultant or signing up for a class:

  • Breastfeeing Basics
  • How to Increase Milk Production
  • Skin-to-Skin What is It?

I’ve created this great e-mail course to help you get breastfeeding started on the right foot! Click the image below for more info.


Thanks for coming by today!

xo ~ Lindsey, RN, IBCLC

Lindsey head shot