Small Adjustments to Find Your Effective Latch: Your Ultimate Guide

by Laura Howells
5 mins reading time
(Updated )

Handout with multiple images of small adjustments to make while breastfeeding to get a good lat. Full details in the article

Breastfeeding or chestfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to nourish and bond with your baby, but it's not always as effortless as it seems. One of the most common challenges new parents face is getting the perfect latch, which can make a world of difference in both your comfort and your baby's feeding experience. That's why we're excited to introduce our comprehensive handout, "How to Fix a Painful or Ineffective Latch," designed to help you troubleshoot and overcome common latch issues.

What is a perfect latch?

I have no pictures for this because a latch can actually look any way from the outside and as long as you are comfortable, your baby is comfortable and they are getting the milk they need to thrive. That is a perfect latch!!! If however you can’t say all those things about your breastfeeding experience or chestfeeding experience here are some things you can do to help.

The Handout: How to fix a painful or ineffective latch

Our handout is packed with practical advice and step-by-step instructions to address two common scenarios of poor latches. With visuals and easy-to-follow directions, it’s the next best thing to having a lactation consultant right by your side. Let's dive into what you can expect to find:

Dyad Latch Adjustment 1: The Semi-Reclined Solution

(Top row of the handout)

1. Lean Back to a Semi-Reclined Position: Begin by leaning back comfortably, propped up with pillows. This relaxed posture encourages a natural alignment between you and your baby, helps your body recover if you have just given birth and lets you relax.

2. Perfect Hand Placement: Placing, your opposite hand to the side of the body you are trying to latch on to, at the base of your babies neck on their shoulder blades. Hold snuggly and lean back. Don’t forget your baby loves being smooshed close to your body. Holding them tight makes them feel secure and gives them core stability which helps them use their neck muscles more effectively.

3. Embrace Tummy-to-Tummy Contact: Roll your baby so that their tummy aligns with yours. Skin-to-skin contact promotes a sense of security and warmth.

4. The Hug Hold: Imagine your baby hugging your breast/chest. Gently guide their arm around your body to facilitate a deeper latch. Sometimes they really don’t want to straighten their arms (usually just because this was how they where positioned in the womb) just make sure you have one arm above and one below your breast/chest so they are not in the way. Helping with this is a great part for partners or support people to help with if you have someone trying to find a roll to make this easier.

Dyad Latch Adjustment 2: A New Angle

(Bottom row of the handout)

1. Farewell to Breastfeeding/chestfeeding Pillows: If you've been using a breastfeeding/chestfeeding pillow, remove it now. This adjustment brings you and your baby closer together with better alignment and are ultimately more comfortable for both of you. When you get a good latch figured out by all means bring back your breastfeeding/chestfeeding pillow if it helps you be more comfortable as you start to resume other activities while you feed your baby. I like them for sitting at a desk or dinner table. This is a question I get asked a lot so I have two blog posts on the subject. More on how to get a good latch here and why I suggest to feed without one here.

  1. Secure Base of Neck Position:  Placing, your opposite hand to the side of the body you are trying to latch on to, at the base of your babies neck on their shoulder blades. Hold snuggly and lean back. Don’t forget your baby loves being smooshed close to your body. Holding them tight makes them feel secure and gives them core stability which helps them use their neck muscles more effectively.

3. The Lean-Back Technique: Get comfortable and lean back, ensuring your baby comes along. You can lean back as little or as much as you want to, anything more than how most people sit on a couch should start to really help your latch but try leaning all the back so you are flat on your back, that can also help a lot.

4. Aim Upward: Your baby should be looking slightly upward, not straight on at the nipple. Gently shift your baby's position downward toward their toes, then draw their shoulders in for a better angle.

Who Can Benefit from This Inclusive Breastfeeding Handout?

Our handout isn't just for parents—it's a valuable resource for birth professionals too. Midwives, lactation consultants, doulas, and nurses can all benefit from the comprehensive information contained within. Whether you're supporting a new parent in their breastfeeding or chestfeeding journey or enhancing your own knowledge, this guide is a great way to learn.

Download the Infographic

Preview of infographic which summarizes the benefits of breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and bodyfeeding. Click to download!

Branding and Credits

We believe in transparency, and that's why we've ensured that our handout retains the branding and credits of the experts who contributed to its creation, for this one its just me, photos where purchased without an option for crediting their creators. I am very happy for it to be shared with clients and other professionals. Linking to my site is always appreciated. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or if you have something you would love to see more handouts about.


Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is a skill that requires practice, patience, and the right guidance. Our handout, "How to Fix a Painful or Ineffective Latch," is just one step on a successful breastfeeding journey. Remember, seeking support and guidance is a sign of strength, if these adjustments don’t help you be comfortable and/or if your little one isn’t getting enough milk. Reach out directly to me, though my email or instagram or find a local IBCLC who can help trouble shoot your problems. You deserve to have the support you need to be successful in feeding your baby in the way that feels right for you!

Full Text

Woven How to Fix a Painful or Ineffective Latch First dyad latch adjustments. “Lean back to a semi-reclined position”,

“This is a good hand position, remember to pull in tight as you recline together’, “roll baby so they are tummy to tummy”, “wrap baby’s arm around your body, like they are hugging your breast/chest”. Second dyad latch adjustments: “remove breastfeeding/chestfeeding pillow”, “bring your left hand up your baby’s back so it’s at teh base of your baby’s neck”, “hold your baby close and lean back bringing your baby with you”, “right now this baby is looking straight on at the nipple we want them looking up a little. Bring your baby down a little bit towards their toes, then pull their shoulders in close so their head can tilt back a little.”


Headshot of Laura

Laura Howells (she/her) is an IBCLC and postpartum doula who works with clients in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been happily supporting growing families during pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and the first years since 2009.

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