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Breasteeding LATCH?

Imagine your newborn lying on your chest, bright eyes open, seeking the image of your face and ultimately the breast then areola, mouthing the nipple, nuzzling, licking and then baby gets a - (say this aloud, reader) – “LATCH”.

Do you really want your baby to LATCH?

Hmmm . . . Merriam Webster defines the word ‘latch’, when used as a noun as, “a fastener (as for a door) consisting essentially of a pivoted bar that falls into a notch; when used as a verb, “fasten (a door or gate) with a latch”.

Stay with me, please:

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing about my body or my baby that includes a pivoted bar that falls into a fastener. LATCH to me = OUCH! And let’s remember that there’s the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) that refers to installing infant and safety seats in automobiles. There ARE metal bars and fasteners involved in keeping kids safe in cars.

We hear this all the time, “My baby has a good latch” or “The baby’s latch is shallow” and on and on it goes.

Recent research suggests that a baby’s sucking (vacuum only) can cause effective milk removal: Tongue movement and intra-oral vacuum of term infants during breastfeeding and feeding from an experimental teat that released milk under vacuum only. Geddes DT, Sakalidis VS, Hepworth AR, McClellan HL, Kent JC, Lai CT, Hartmann PE. Early Hum Dev. 2012 Jun;88(6):443-9. Epub 2011 Nov 26.In other words, babies suckle or suck well as long as their mouths open wide and the nipple is close to the junction of the hard and soft palate.

The description of the way baby gets there needs revision. I’ve considered using an acronym – you know, like Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.

First OPEN came to mind. To nurse, baby needs to:


Place tongue under breast

Engulf nipple


Uh, no . . .I brainstormed with friends and colleagues.

Among suggestions were

Accepting the Mammary – ATM – (nope)

Opening and Suckling – OS – (too clinical)

Receiving and breastfeeding – R&B (already taken)

Taking the breast – TB (oops!= - Nobody wants TB)

Words have power. Some convey insensitivity, others are incredibly rude, and still others convey compassion or a sense of empathy. Words can describe an event or action accurately.

There are words that should NEVER be used – so I won’t write them here – you know what they are. Women endure the use of words like “incompetent cervix” as well as “failure to progress”, “unfavorable cervix”, and “obstetric cripple” (which was actually used by a care provider to describe a friend’s stated desire to have VBAC).

So, what word should we use to describe the initial contact our babies have with our breasts – or the other way around? LATCH?

How about “Attachment”?

Happy Nursing,


Breastfeeding, latch, childbirth, lactation consulting
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