It’s all about the POSITION & LATCH! (For civilian & military moms)

The most important part of successful breastfeeding is the positioning & latch. When a good position and latch is obtained, breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience between mother and baby. If your baby is not properly latched on to your breast, feedings could be painful.  There are specific techniques that can be used when latching the baby to the breast. A lactation consultant may prove helpful in getting the techniques down. Here are some helpful tips:





Choose own feeding position based on comfort.

  • Pain free
  • Easy to maintain “for up to an hour”
  • No neck strain
  • Relaxed shoulders
  • Good body support




4 main principles:

1.  Head,shoulder and body straight

2.  Baby facing breast

3.  Baby very close to mother

4.  Bottom, head and shoulder well supported




1. Baby’s mouth is wide open (wide open jaw).

He has to open the mouth wide to get all that breast tissue deep into his mouth

2. Baby’s nose and chin should touch the breast.

DON’T worry, baby won’t suffocate himself. If he cant breathe he’ll just turn his head or pull away. 

3. Full round cheeks and no dimples.

If baby’s mouth is full of breast, the cheeks should be full of it as well. Hence, you should see no dimples. If you see dimples on his cheeks, he is creating a vacuum of empty space!

4. Flared lips.

Try pouting your mouth and opening it wide (not a pretty sight, i must say!). Like a fish! 🙂

In order for baby to take the breasts deep in his mouth, he really must flare his lips as he opens his mouth wide. His tongue will extend and push out his lower lip and thus wrapping it around the areola.

5. NO PAIN!!

There should be no pain. If you feel pain, there is something wrong with the latch. Fix it immediately. And if it persists, please see a lactation consultant for help A.S.A.P!


Right then, it all sounds pretty straight forward and simple, right? Don’t worry if you struggle initially. It’s all part of the learning process. You get better with practice.




NOW, Let’s try to explaining this to a military mom. I attended a conference in 2011 where there was an IBCLC – Major Jarold “Tom” Johnston, CNM, IBCLC who presented an analogy which i found very interesting! He often talks a lot about the role of fathers in breastfeeding.

So, here’s his way of solving the “LATCH” problem. The corrective action for the breastfeeding babybaby is the same as corrective action for the M-16 (or M-4).


When a baby has a bad latch, it is almost always a double feed. You have two rounds in the chamber at the same time (in this case, breast and lower lip). Just like any other double feed, you’ll have to pull SPORTS (Slap, Pull, Observe, Release, Tap, Shoot). So, if you remember your basic rifle marksmanship, you will know what to do without even asking, right? (btw, my shooting experience is very limited but I can still relate to this)



S – Slap – Put your hand on the baby’s back and push him toward the breast

P – Pull – reach one finger between the chin and the breast and pull downon the baby’s chin to elicit a rooting reflex.

O – Observe – Does the jaw open, do the cheeks fill and round out, do the lips flare, and does the pain go away?

R – Release – let go of the chin and let the baby suckle and test the new latch.

T – Tap/try again – Repeat the first 4 steps two or three times to see if you can correct the bad latch.

S – Shoot – Darn it! We have to take him off the breast and try again.


(From Major Jarold “Tom” Johnston, CNM, IBCLC. U.S. Army Medical)


So, if you can’t fix the latch with basics of SPORTS, you are going to need remedial action. Most likely you’ll have to drop the magazine (take the baby OFF the breast, clear the chamber (calm the child, then elicit a rooting reflex off the breast to encourage a VERY wide open mouth), and reload (put him back to the breast).


Hope this helps!


Reference: Breastfeeding in combat boots, Robyn Roche Paull, BS, IBCLC, LLLL


Prepared by:

Rita Rahayu Omar, BSc, CISA, IBCLC Lactation Consultant


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