Breastfeeding:Common Latching Issues and Ways to Overcome them
By Dr. Nutan Pakhare
My experience as a clinician caring for new mothers and their infants has taught me that breastfeeding can be challenging for some mothers. According to a study by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in the UK, more than half of new mothers experience difficulties breastfeeding in the first few weeks after delivery. There are several common latching issues, including the baby’s difficulty attaching to the breast.
Similarly, researchers at the University of Central Lancashire examined how breastfeeding support impacts the experiences of first-time mothers. Study findings showed that new mothers often struggled with latching issues.
In the study, nipple pain was consistently identified as a problem caused by poor latching. A poorly latching baby can cause sore nipples and even bleeding, which can make breastfeeding painful and unpleasant for the mother. In this post, I will discuss common latching issues and how to overcome them.
Latching is essential for successful breastfeeding. It is the process by which the baby attaches to the breast, and if done correctly, it ensures that the baby receives an adequate milk supply and the mother experiences minimal discomfort. However, when the baby is not latching correctly, it can lead to a frustrating experience for both mother and baby.
Some Common Breastfeeding Latching Issues and Tips to Fix them
1. Shallow latch: A shallow latch occurs when the baby is not taking enough of the breast into their mouth. This can lead to nipple soreness and pain for the mother, and the baby may not be receiving enough milk. To overcome a shallow latch, it is essential to make sure that the baby takes in as much of the areola as possible, not just the nipple. The mother can also use her fingers to shape her breast to help the baby latch on properly.
2. Tongue tie: A tongue tie is a condition where the baby’s tongue is attached to the bottom of the mouth, making it difficult for the baby to latch onto the breast properly. The baby may struggle to maintain suction and may become frustrated or unsettled during feeding. If you suspect that your baby has a tongue tie, speak to your healthcare provider, who may refer you to a specialist for evaluation and treatment.
3. Flat or inverted nipples: Flat or inverted nipples can make it challenging for the baby to latch onto the breast properly. Mothers with flat or inverted nipples can use a breast pump to help draw out the nipple before latching the baby. Alternatively, using nipple shields can help create a better latch for the baby.
4. Engorgement: Engorgement occurs when the breasts become overly full, making it difficult for the baby to latch properly. The breasts can feel hard and swollen, making it challenging for the baby to latch on. To overcome engorgement, the mother should try expressing a small amount of milk before feeding to help soften the breast. Warm compresses and massaging the breast can also help.
5. Cracked nipples: Cracked nipples can be a result of a shallow latch or engorgement, and they can be painful for the mother. To overcome this issue, it is important to ensure that the baby is latching on properly. Applying a chadan lepa or ghee after feeding can also help to soothe and heal sore nipples.
Breastfeeding can be a challenging experience for some mothers, but with the right support and guidance, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience for both mother and baby.
Additional tips to help overcome Latching Issues
To help new mothers with the most common breastfeeding latching tips, I would like to provide some solutions. The following steps can help ensure a successful and stress-free breastfeeding experience for both mother and baby:
1. Positioning: It is essential to have the right posture for breastfeeding to make it easier for your baby to latch properly. The mother should sit in a comfortable chair or use pillows to support her back and arms, and hold the baby close to her chest, ensuring that the baby’s ear, shoulder, and hip are in a straight line.
Make sure that the baby is positioned correctly, with their head and body aligned. Wait for the baby to open their mouth wide before latching
2. Latching: A baby may find it hard to latch onto the mother’s breast, and this can cause stress and anxiety for the mother. To help with this issue, make sure that the baby’s mouth is wide open, and the baby’s lips are curled outward, like a fish. Once the baby is in position, the mother should bring the baby close to the breast, aiming the nipple towards the baby’s nose. The baby should latch onto the entire areola, not just the nipple.
3. Supply: Many new mothers worry about having enough milk to satisfy the baby’s hunger. To increase milk production, the mother should drink plenty of water, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of rest. The more often the baby feeds, the more milk the mother will produce.
4. Express some milk: Expressing some milk before feeding can make the breast softer and easier for the baby to latch onto.
5. Support the breast: Use your hand to support your breast while your baby latches on.
6. Avoid using artificial nipples (such as pacifiers) for the first few weeks
7. Seek help from a lactation consultant or healthcare provider if you are experiencing persistent latching issues.
In conclusion, latching issues are common in breastfeeding, but with the right support and guidance, they can be overcome. As we’ve discussed, there are several reasons why a baby may struggle to latch properly, including tongue ties, poor positioning, and inverted nipples. But there are also many solutions available to help mothers overcome these challenges and experience the many benefits of breastfeeding.
If you’re a new mother who’s struggling with breastfeeding, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Speak to a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider, and they can offer practical advice and support to help you and your baby get the most out of the breastfeeding experience.
And if you’re a friend or family member of a new mother, be sure to offer your support and encouragement. Breastfeeding can be a difficult journey, but with the right support network, it can also be one of the most beautiful experiences of a mother’s life.
In conclusion, I would like to urge you to educate yourself during your last trimester in order to prevent this pain and enjoy this time of feeding.