Unlatching the baby

How do I take the baby off my breast?

There are several ways to remove the baby from the breast. One way is for mothers to curve their small finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth and separate the gums to break the suction. This is done by the mother using the hand that is opposite the breastfeeding breast. This method works well most of the time, but if mothers need to take the baby off immediately because they are suddenly in a lot of pain, they can pinch the baby’s nose for a few seconds until the baby lets go.

A) Unlatching the baby

In order to safely unlatch the baby, mothers need to release the suction in the baby’s mouth. Simply pulling the baby off of the breast can cause nipple pain and even injury.

B) Breaking the suction with your pinky finger

One way to unlatch the baby is for mothers to use a finger as a hook to pry the baby’s jaws apart and break the suction. We recommend the smallest (pinky) finger as it is often easier to insert into the baby’s mouth than a larger one. Ensure that your pinky nail is not too long to avoid injuring the baby’s mouth.

To break the suction:

  1. Bring the hand that is opposite the breastfeeding breast (right hand to left breast and vice versa) across your body.
  2. Make a gentle fist but leave your pinky sticking out and curved into a slight hook.
  3. Place the pinky in the corner of the baby’s mouth.
  4. Push your pinky past the baby’s lips and between the gums. This will pry the baby’s gums apart and release the suction.
  5. Once the suction is broken, lean away from the baby to remove the nipple from the baby’s mouth.
  6. Remove your pinky.

In general, babies resist letting go of the nipple. A baby may clamp down as you are trying to unlatch it. Be firm and continue with the above approach.

C) Pinching the baby’s nose

If you need to take the baby off the breast immediately because you are suddenly in a lot of pain or because the baby is clamping, nipping, or biting your nipple, you can pinch the baby’s nose closed until the baby lets go. Release the nose as soon as the baby has let go; this is usually in two to three seconds.

Pinching the nose for a few seconds forces the baby to open the mouth to breathe, immediately stopping the painful action. Don’t be afraid to be firm, especially if you have sore nipples. This method is much more forceful and should only be used very occasionally and only for the above reasons.