Ahhh, breastfeeding. That most natural thing that many moms like to hate. At least to begin with.
We all know that breastfeeding is the most natural feeding method known. It’s how you were fed when you were a baby and it’s how your mama was fed. Yet, there are still many women out there who face problems as new moms when it comes to breastfeeding latch problems. While many moms get to establish a beautiful breastfeeding practice with their infants, this might not be true for those who experienced difficulties with breastfeeding.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time mom or a veteran of many. Breastfeeding latch problems can happen at any time. And it is never a pleasant experience at all.
If you are a new mom experiencing breastfeeding latch issues, do not stress out. While this may be difficult for you as a new mother, there are many ways to resolve the problem and get your baby feeding properly. This article will give you an overview of the best breastfeeding tips to help you, as well as provide some useful information about breastfeeding latch problems.
What is Breastfeeding Latch?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, breastfeeding is the best option for infants. It provides infants with many benefits – not only are they nourished with vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins that they need but they also have lower risks of developing illnesses including allergies, ear infections, and gastrointestinal illnesses.
In simple terms, latching is the method your little one takes a nipple and areola into their mouth to suckle and feed. Your baby needs a good latch in order to get enough milk while breastfeeding. It also makes sure there is a high milk flow and minimizes nipple discomfort for the mother.
Getting the hang of breastfeeding is a struggle for any mom. It might start out well in the beginning, but it’s always important to know what to do when you encounter breastfeeding problems like bad latching or tongue tie issues.
How do I know if my baby is latching properly?
When your tiny and confused little bundle of joy is trying to figure out the ins and outs of how to feed, it can be a tricky situation. You want to do all you can to support your baby’s efforts, but it can be challenging when you don’t know what to do.
One concern you may encounter is if your baby is latching properly.
Observe the following the find out the answer:
- It does not hurt at all. Breastfeeding properly doesn’t have to hurt! You should be able to read the morning paper while feeding your hungry baby.
- Your baby’s lips are parted like a fish. This shows that your baby is safely latched while feeding.
- Feedings do not produce a clicking sound. During breastfeeding, a clicking (or clucking, or chuckling) sound indicates that your baby is repeatedly breaking the seal or sucking.
- As your baby feeds, his chin touches the bottom portion of your breast. This proves your baby has a wide coverage of your breast as they feed.
- You will hear your baby swallowing. This is easily noticeable since you are very close to your baby while feeding.
- Keep an eye on your baby’s ears, it moves as they swallow.
- If you pull down the bottom lip of your baby, you can see the tongue.
- Your areola actually almost disappears into your baby’s mouth. Again, this means your baby has comfortable access to your milk.
What are the consequences of poor latching?
Not only does poor latching affect your baby but you will also notice a significant effect on you.
A good breastfeeding latch is a right connection between the breast and infant, which allows the infant to get enough milk for its healthy development. Many mothers worry about having sore nipples due to breastfeeding. However, some moms are also having a tough time doing this because of breastfeeding latch issues.
Let’s discuss these effects one by one:
- Pain — This is a no-brainer. When feeding, a baby’s tongue does the work. If not latched well, your nipple ends up just between your baby’s tongue and the roof of its mouth. The friction and pressure done by this action may irritate your nipple if your baby is not latched well. This is painful. It is called a shallow latch when the latch mainly resides on the nipple as opposed to the breast. A shallow latch prevents a baby’s tongue from reaching the milk ducts. The breastfeeding process will be more painful and he will have difficulty getting enough milk.
- Nipple Damage — The fact that babies breastfeed often during the day and sometimes at night worsens a shallow latch situation. It will continue to hurt and the mother will develop sore nipples in no time, leading to swelling, skin damage, like cracking, bruising or bleeding eventually.
- Incomplete or Poor Breast Drainage — Due to shallow latching, your baby will have difficulty emptying your breast. This can lead to a multitude of problems in the future.
- Breast Disease — Poor latching can eventually result in health problems to the mother like mastitis, or the inflammation of breast tissue. Pain, swelling, and redness result from the inflammation of breast tissue. Fever and chills may also occur.
What is a comfortable position while breastfeeding?
As much as breastfeeding might seem like a science, it really doesn’t have to be rocket science. Good technique trumps everything — even when it comes to breastfeeding latch problems. You just need to follow the right steps and master the art of breastfeeding the easiest way possible.
Making sure you position yourself comfortably is one effective way to encourage deep latching of your baby.
This position is best for newborn babies.
- Get comfortable on an armchair with armrests and sit up straight.
- Lay your baby on your stomach, tummy to tummy.
- If you are feeding on your right breast, hold your little one in the crook of your left arm. If you are feeding on your left breast, hold in your right.
- With your open hand, support the baby’s back.
- In a U-shaped hold, hold your breast from the underside with the other hand.
- Bring the mouth of the baby to your breast.
- Avoid bending over or leaning forward.
- Your baby should be cradled close to your breast.
Unlike the cross-cradle hold, the cradle hold involves supporting the baby with the arm on the same side of the breast, instead of with the opposite arm.
- Sit up straight, preferably in an armchair with armrests, as you would in the cross-cradle hold.
- Hold your baby in one arm, cradling his or her head comfortably in the crook of your elbow while he or she faces your breast.
- Placing a pillow on your lap will provide you with extra support.
This position is best if you want to rest in a lying-down position.
- With one hand, support your baby at the breast while lying on your side.
- Hold your breast with your other hand and touch your nipple to your baby’s lips.
- You should use one arm to support your head once your baby latches on, and the other arm to hold the baby close.
The football or clutch hold is another option. A C-section recovery or large breasts might make this position an ideal choice.
- With your elbow bent, hold your baby beside you.
- Face your baby toward your breast and support the head with your open hand.
- The back of your baby will rest on your forearm.
- Support your breast with your other hand in a C-shape.
- Use a chair with broad, low arms and a pillow on your lap for comfort.
Football hold for twins
If If you are breastfeeding twins, you might decide to breastfeed them separately at first to find out how they react. If you’d like to breastfeed them simultaneously, you can use the football hold with each baby in your arms.
- With your elbows bent, hold one baby on each side.
- As your babies lie on their backs, their backs will rest on your forearms.
- Use pillows on your lap and a chair with broad, low arms for comfort.
What are the common breastfeeding latch problems?
It happens to most mothers, you are breastfeeding your infant, and one day you realize that your baby has started to have problems latching on. It can be a worrisome situation. You know as a mother that breastfeeding is important, not just for the sake of your child’s health but also for yours. After all, we are the ones who shed gallons of milk each day while nursing our children.
A lot of things cause a baby to not latch properly and it is your goal to figure it out to make sure your little one is feeding properly and growing steadily.
The following list contains some of the most common latch problems.
Large Nipples and Large Breasts
Your child may find it difficult to latch onto you if you have large nipples or breasts. Consequently, they will have difficulty sucking enough breastmilk from you.
To make your nipples thinner and longer, use the suction from a breast pump if you have large nipples. This can be done every time you breastfeed. A nipple shield can also be used. Your baby will be better able to grasp with his or her mouth once this is placed over your nipples.
If your breasts are large, however, you should ask someone to assist you at the beginning of breastfeeding. You can ask them to help you position your baby properly so that they can latch on properly. As your baby becomes more comfortable and latches better, you can eventually do it on your own.
You do not need to worry if you have both. Eventually, your baby will latch onto your nipple and breasts, regardless of their size, as they grow.
Your newborn might not be interested in breastfeeding if he or she is too sleepy or tired to move. Sometimes this drowsiness is caused by the medication during childbirth, but sometimes it is just because they are too tired.
Keep your baby awake by stirring him or her up every two to three hours if he or she doesn’t frequently wake up to breastfeed. Your baby will remain awake if you unwrap them, change their diapers, or simply talk to them. Your baby may even be held in a less comfortable position while nursing.
Mothers often experience breast engorgement during the early years of motherhood. During breastfeeding, your colostrum will turn into traditional breast milk. It is most likely that your milk production will increase steadily during the transitional stage. This will result in your breasts being filled with milk. It is likely that they will become swollen and hard as a result.
Your nipple will flatten once your breasts become tight. As a result, it will be difficult for the baby to latch on. Pumping or hand expressing a small amount of milk before breastfeeding can make it easier for the baby because it softens your skin around the areola and nipples.
Flat or Inverted Nipples
It may be easier for some babies to latch on to flat or inverted nipples. There are however times when they find this difficult.
This problem can be solved with the suction of a breast pump. To start breastfeeding your baby, pump for a few minutes to draw out your nipples and lengthen them. Repeat this each time you intend to breastfeed. You can also consult your doctor about nipple shields if this method does not work.
Various reasons can cause a child to cry excessively. This can be caused by tiredness, sleepiness, hunger, or overstimulation. When a baby is fussy, breastfeeding can be difficult because they are unlikely to latch on to the breast.
Following are several ways to approach this problem:
- Consider changing your milking position or switching sides, and choose breastfeeding positions that are more comfortable for them.
- To calm your child, hold and snuggle them.
- Before they latch, you can gently squeeze and release a few drops of breastmilk. They may latch on when they smell the milk.
- Put your baby in a quieter area. Consider dimming the lights to make them feel more relaxed.
Ways to a good breastfeeding latch
You’ve just given birth and you’re ready to start breastfeeding – that is if things go the way they should. The thing is, there are many ways to nurse a baby but this may not work for every mom. First-time moms often face problems with breastfeeding latch as they are still uncertain and are learning as they go.
You can help your baby latch on correctly and comfortably by following these guidelines.
- Choose a comfortable position for you and your baby. Regardless of the breastfeeding position you choose, make sure your baby’s head, neck, and spine are aligned, not twisted. Make sure his chin is up, not down. Use pillows or cushions to support your back, arms, or baby if necessary.
- Make sure your baby opens his mouth. Your nipple should be level with your baby’s nose as you hold him close. To encourage him to open his mouth wide, touch your nipple gently against his upper lip. Getting a good latch-on is easier if his mouth is wide.
- Hold your baby close to your breast. Place your nipple near your baby’s mouth once it is wide open, aiming it towards the top of his mouth. When you hold your baby, their chin should be the first thing touching your breast. He should take a large portion of your areola into his mouth, covering more of the underside of your areola with his bottom lip and jaw. You don’t need to worry if you see part of your areola outside your mouth – we all have different-sized areolae and babies! In some cases, mums find it helpful to gently shape their breasts during the feeding process. Try it out and see if it works for you.
- When your baby is latching on, keep him close. Remember that every mother’s breasts and nipples vary, so you may not always get the ‘textbook’ latch. Always place your baby’s chin against your breast so that he remains close to you. A newborn baby’s nose is turned up to enable them to breathe comfortably while attached to their mother’s breast, and to teach them how to breathe and suckle without difficulty.
- Watch and listen. As your baby feeds, his tongue will cup softly beneath your nipple. It should feel more like a tug than an uncomfortable latch. At first, your baby will be suckling short, rapid bursts to stimulate the flow of milk (let-down reflex). His suckling will become slower and deeper with some pauses when the milk starts flowing, which is good! As he feeds, you may see his jaw moving and hear him sucking and swallowing. In addition to these signs, make sure your baby is gaining weight and producing plenty of wet and dirty nappies.
- If necessary, break the latch on the breast. Take your baby off your breast if his latch is shallow or painful, or he chomps on your nipple or brushes the end with his tongue. Using your clean finger, gently loosen his suction inside his mouth.
Breastfeeding can be a beautiful, bonding experience between a mother and her baby. It is also one of the most natural things in the world that can take great practice to learn how to do properly.
Signs of a good latch
Breastfeeding is an art, practised by all mothers. This just means that the best breastfeeding latch totally relies on the mother’s senses. And due to the fact that every single mom has her own personality, style, preference, and so on, each one of them may have a completely different approach. Breastfeeding has proven to be extremely beneficial for both babies and their mothers, so this makes it a highly recommended practice.
Be sure to check these things every time you feed your baby:
- his latch doesn’t hurt;
- his chin is touching your breast and he can breathe through his nose;
- he starts with short sucks before sucking more slowly and deeply
- his mouth is open wide and he has a mouthful of your areola (not just your nipple)
It may be more difficult for your baby to latch if your nipples are flat or inverted.
When breastfeeding is painful or your baby doesn’t seem to be gaining weight, a poor latch may be the cause. If you are experiencing breastfeeding problems, consult a lactation consultant.
Most of the time, when a breastfeeding mother complains about their breastfeeding experience or they feel it is not going well, the issue is not actually and truly with the nursing. The problem generally lies with the way their baby is latched on and breastfeeding. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of making sure that your baby is properly latched for optimum breast milk supply and ensuring that both mother and baby are getting all the benefits of breastmilk.
Conclusion: The Complete Guide To Breastfeeding Latch
Just because you bring your baby home from the hospital doesn’t mean breastfeeding will just fall in place. Breastfeeding is a skill and as with all skills, there are signs of a good and successful latch to be aware of. Naturally, every baby is different and you (as the mother) will know your child best so you need to pay close attention to the signs discussed above.
Breastfeeding is great. It is the most natural way to send nutrients to your newborn and give them the ingredients for wholesome growth and development. However, it might take time and practice for both the mothers and babies to get the hang of it. To establish breastfeeding properly, the critical key is to understand the ins and outs of a good breastfeeding latch.
We hope our guide provided important facts and bits of information that new mothers need to know in order to ensure that they can breastfeed their baby effectively.
Looking for more guides? Check out the Top 20 Common and Normal New Baby Questions!