How can I improve my baby's latch when breastfeeding?
Face to Breast symmetry is so important in the prevention or relieve of painful nipples while breastfeeding, according to research carried out by Dr Robyn Thompson, midwife and breastfeeding consultant with over 45 years experience.
Q. So what is Face to Breast Symmetry?
A. Face to Breast Symmetry is when the four (4) facial points are in equal contact with the breast.
The 4 facial points to observe are:
The point of the chin
These 4 points are very important to maintaining symmetrical face-to-breast contact. Symmetry means your baby is 'snug' at your breast with both nostrils resting gently on your breast, the chin bone massages deep in your breast tissue. The tongue inside is joined to the chin, they both work in harmony with the lower jaw movement.
Both cheeks remain snug against the breast – no visible gaps all around.
If you find that your baby is slipping (or detaching) from your breast, it has been commonly associated with the baby not being able to adequately vacuum your nipple and some breast tissue.
Observing and maintaining face-to-breast symmetry improves your baby’s potential to draw the nipple and adequate soft pliable breast tissue along the upper surface of the tongue. With adequate drawing the nipple rests as far back as the soft palatal cleft where it is protected by the soft circular space. The remaining tissue molds to form the unique shape of your baby’s oral cavity between the upper surface of the tongue, the cheeks and the curved hard bone in the roof of mouth, to the gums and lips that seal the mouth against the breast. A unique shape for every baby.
Video: Dr Robyn Thompson offers reassurance to women asking whether the baby is 'latching' correctly
If the head tilts back, the nose moves away from the breast to accommodate drawing of the nipple and the tongue compresses the nipple into the roof of the mouth, resulting in nipple tip trauma.
If the head tilts forward the chin moves away from the breast often resulting in gum damage on the nipple body.
Nipple base damage appears to be associated drawing of the nipple only and/or offset nose or chin. The gums compress the base of the nipple and the women describe a biting sensation.
When the head tilts and one cheek is offset from the breast, this appears to be associated with a ridge formation. Both gums, often described by women as a pinching sensation, compress the edge forming a painful ridge on the nipple.
If asymmetrical face to breast contact is observed, some fine-tuning may be required.
Fine tuning asymmetrical face to breast contact assists in the prevention of painful nipple trauma. Mindfully observe that all four (4) facial points (nose, chin and both cheeks) are snugly in contact with your breast with no visible gaps.
Fine-tuning is easy with very slight and gentle movements.
To fine-tune the nose or chin, gently slide your baby's body to the left or right or vice versa (only about 1cm), until the nose touches and contours the breast and the point of the chin massages the breast.
To fine-tune either cheek, use your hand to gently tilt your baby's body over or under. These two slight movements ensure that the baby's upper cheek and lower cheek are in contact with your breast.
It's important to frequently observe that your baby is in symmetrical contact with at your breast. Symmetry provides the best possible chance for your baby to gently draw to best, individual oral potential. The unique shape provides the baby with best ability to rhythmically stimulate your breast to create hormone release, your milk to flow and to maintain milk volume.
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