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Painful Feeds? You Need to Know about Baby Self Attachment

Monday, February 15, 2021

Are you struggling to find a comfortable latch? Is your nipple pinched after each feed or shaped like a tube of new lipstick? You may want to try what Lactation Consultants call “baby self attachment”.

These fancy words simply mean: “Get comfortable and allow your baby to latch himself!”

Babies have natural instincts that allow them to find the breast and self attach. These instincts are present right after birth. Some mothers get their most comfortable latch ever using this simple technique. Other moms love it as it takes the pressure off their stitches.

Below is a short video by an Australian IBCLC, The Milk Meg demonstrating how it can work.

Important things to notice about baby self attachment as you watch:

  • Self attachment seems to work best when you and baby are in skin to skin contact (Baby in just a diaper against your bare chest). This helps to encourage your baby’s natural feeding instincts and keeps baby calm. An upset baby will have difficulty latching.
  • Lay back in a comfortable semi-reclined position. Think about how you would sit if you were relaxing to read a book or watch a movie. Use pillows as needed to make yourself comfortable.
  • Support your baby in whatever way feels most natural to you. Try to use your instincts rather than thinking about a special technique.
  • Watch how the baby uses his arms and legs to get into position. Baby will show he is hungry by turning his head side to side, putting hands towards his mouth and making sucking motions.
  • Baby is able to lift and bob his head, searching for the breast.
  • Once baby is latched, you may wonder if he will be able to breathe. The baby will adjust himself to lift his nose away from the breast.
  • It is heart melting to see the baby looking straight into his mother’s eyes at the end of the video!

A word of caution

While we have seen self attachment work wonderfully well for many moms and babies, there are a few babies that seem to find this position uncomfortable. It is important to watch YOUR baby and see what works best for the two of you.

Learn other breastfeeding positions to try in the Simply Breastfeeding course.

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Meet Cindy & Jana


As Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, we’ve helped over 30,000 new families settle in with their newborn.

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Over and over, we’ve seen the same questions and challenges catch new families off guard. We want it to be easier for you. Our courses are based on the things families say they wish they had known. Get the information you need to feel confident, relaxed, and ready to meet and care for your new baby.

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References:

  1. Australian Breastfeeding Association “Attachment to the Breast.”, breastfeeding.asn.au. 1 July 2017, www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/attachment-breast
  2. The Milk Meg,  “Video Of The Laid Back Breastfeeding Position-Encourage Your Baby To Self-Attach!”, themilkmeg.com, 13 May 2019, https://themilkmeg.com/video-of-the-laid-back-breastfeeding-position-encourage-your-baby-to-self-attach

*Updated July 15, 2019

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About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 30,000 families. They provide expert content to new families and those that support them through their website, workshops and online classes.

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