Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 11:11 am

Durban based Dietician, Laura May Janse Van Rensburg looks at the importance of latching when breastfeeding a newborn…

Holding your baby for breastfeeding can sometimes be uncomfortable and awkward as you try and place them correctly for the long feed ahead.

Often, new moms do not realise that the way the baby suckles at the breast affects the amount of milk that they are receiving.

Suckling and hormones

There are two very important hormones involved in both the production and the secretion of breastnmilk and these hormones work in direct proportion to the frequency and duration of feeds.

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Prolactin is the hormone responsible for producing the milk and is generally stimulated during a feed to ensure that more milk is produced for the next feed. The less the baby suckles at the breast the less prolactin is produced.

Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for milk flow and is produced during the feed. A poor oxytocin reflex means that the baby may have difficulty receiving milk.

The correct attachment of the baby to the breast for feeds is essential to ensure that the above mentioned hormones are stimulated to ensure successful breastfeeding. Correct attachment means effective suckling which means your baby is getting sufficient milk.

You will know your baby is suckling well when

  • He or she takes slow, deep sucks, sometimes pausing for a short time
  • You can see or hear your baby swallowing
  • The cheeks are full and not drawn inward during feeds
  • Your baby finishes feeding and releases the breast by him/herself and looks content

Signs of incorrect suckling

  • Rapid sucks
  • Smacking and clicking sounds
  • Drawn in cheeks
  • Extremely frequent feeds (more than every hour or so on a daily basis)
  • Not content at the end of the feed