Should Breastfeeding Hurt? No!

Breastfeeding will bring many new emotions and feelings, but pain should NOT be one of them. Tenderness and sensitivity are not uncommon in the beginning. These tips will help you get a good, deep latch that won’t hurt!

No matter what position you use to feed your baby, it’s important to get a good latch. It takes practice, both for you and your baby. But a good latch will help you feel comfortable and help your baby get the most milk.


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  1. Position baby so it is comfortable for baby and YOU. Baby’s tummy and chest should be touching mom’s tummy. Before latching, hold baby nose to nipple.
  2. Hold your breast in a ‘C’ hold. Curve your hand like a ‘C’ with thumb on top, supporting your breast behind the areola. Wait for baby to open mouth WIDE. You can lightly stroke baby’s upper lip with the nipple to get a wide gape. Nipple should be pointed at the roof of baby’s mouth.
  3. Pull baby quickly on to the breast so that chin and lower jaw make first contact, not the nose. Baby should take in more of the lower breast than the upper breast.
    • If baby only latches to the nipple, simply remove baby from breast and try again. Use your smallest finger in the corner of baby’s mouth to break the latch. 
  4. Baby’s lips are spread open to create a good seal on the breast. Look for both of your baby’s lips to be turned out like a fish (not tucked in or under) and relaxed—you should see the pink of the lips. If needed, press gently on the chin to pull the lower lip out. The tongue should be cupped under your nipple. 

*photograph copyright Real Baby Milk

When your baby is ready to end the feeding, he/she will release the breast and be relaxed. Keep track of the breast last used. Start with it at the next feeding.


Check with your WIC breastfeeding staff on what a good latch should feel like for you. Some signs of a good latch may be:

  • The latch is comfortable and pain free.
  • Your baby’s chest and stomach rest against your body, so that baby’s head is straight, not turned to the side.
  • Your baby’s chin touches your breast.
  • Your baby’s mouth opens wide around your breast, not just the nipple.
  • Your baby’s lips turn out.
  • Your baby’s tongue cups under your breast.
  • You hear or see swallowing.
  • Your baby’s ears move slightly.

If you’re having trouble getting a good latch, try:

  • Moving to a quiet, calm place.
  • Holding your baby skin to skin. While both you and your baby are undressed, hold your baby against your chest.
  • Letting your baby lead. Support your baby’s neck, shoulders, and hips with your hands. Offer your breast, but let your baby find your nipple on their own.

Read more about different ways to hold baby when breastfeeding and what to do if you have sore nipples.

Source: USDA WIC Breastfeeding Support – Steps and Signs of a Good Latch & SD WIC Library