Let your baby self-latch
Humans, like the newborns of other mammals, have innate breastfeeding abilities and are capable of finding the breast and latching on well with only minimal help from the mother. (Some medications and interventions in labour and birth may make this more difficult for some babies in the first hours and days after birth.) If the mother gets into a comfortable, semi-reclining position and puts the baby tummy-down on her body (gravity will help keep him there, but mom can use her hands to provide some support if needed), with the baby’s head near her breasts, the baby will orient himself by bobbing his head, and move towards the breast to latch on. This can take time, but usually results in an effective, pain-free latch.
Use good positioning if you need to help the baby
Some babies (for example, those who were exposed to medications during labour and birth) may have difficulty in self-attaching. If you are breastfeeding sitting up, be sure your baby is tucked in close to you, tummy to tummy, and that your supporting hand or arm is placed behind her shoulders, not her head, so that she can tip her head back and bring the chin into the breast first. Your nipple should be pointed towards her nose, so that as she opens wide and tips her head back, it will be in the perfect place to slide deeply into her mouth, aimed at the roof of her mouth.
Adjust without unlatching
If your baby latches on, and it hurts, you know something is wrong. Sometimes mothers are advised to stick a finger in the baby’s mouth, unlatch him, and start over. The problem with this approach is that it’s very frustrating for the baby: every time he starts nursing, he’s taken off the breast. Some get so frustrated they refuse to nurse, or begin clamping down on the nipple. It also puts you at the risk of more nipple damage if the baby latches on incorrectly repeatedly. Instead, try first to adjust the baby’s position while he’s nursing, so that the rest of the feeding can be more comfortable. Try pressing in a little more on baby’s shoulder to bring him in closer and let his head tip back a bit more, or shifting his position slightly (depending on the natural position of your nipple ? he may need to be lower or more out to the side, for example).