Your breastfeeding comfort also depends on where your nipple lands in your baby’s mouth. And this depends on how deeply your baby takes the breast, or latches on.

To understand this better, use your tongue or finger to feel the roof of your mouth. Behind your teeth and the ridges you can feel the roof is hard. When your nipple presses against this hard area in your baby’s mouth, it can hurt.

Breastfeeding Latching On - Farther Back in Your Mouth

But farther back in your mouth, you can feel where the roof turns from hard to soft. This is where your nipple should rest, where there is no friction or pressure on your nipple.

In laid-back positions, gravity helps the nipple reach this comfort zone. In other positions, you need to work harder to help your baby latch deeply. As you guide your baby to a deep latch:

  • Press your baby’s body firmly against you with her nose in line with your nipple, let her head tilt back a bit (avoid pushing on the back of her head).
  • Allow her chin to touch the breast then move away.
  • Repeat until her mouth opens really wide, as wide as a yawn.
  • As she moves onto the breast chin first, gently press between your baby’s shoulders from behind for a deeper latch.

That last gentle push helps the nipple reach the right spot. Breastfeeding tends to feel better when your baby latches on asymmetrically, so that more of the areola (the dark part around your nipple) under the nipple is in her mouth than on top of the nipple.


  • You feel a tugging but no pain throughout the breastfeeding session. (In the first week or so you may feel some pain in the first minute or two of sucking that eases quickly.)
  • You hear your baby swallowing.
  • Her lower lip is rolled out.
  • You see more of the dark area around the nipple above your baby’s upper lip than below.
  • Your baby breastfeeds with a wide-open (not a narrow) mouth.

If breastfeeding hurts, seek help right away from a board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). The sooner you get help, the better.

Breastfeeding Latching On - Compressing the Breast

Shaping The Breast – The C-Hold

If your baby has trouble taking the breast, shaping the breast may help. To do this, be sure your thumb and fingers run in the same direction as baby’s lips. (Imagine your thumb or finger as your baby’s moustache.) Keep your fingers back, out of her way. Compressing the breast will help make it like the shape of a sandwich and a little easier to grasp.

This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or healthcare provider.

Download pdf:

Helping Your Baby Take the Breast

Click to view these helpful videos:

Breastfeeding Basics Video
Your Baby Knows How to Latch On Video