How to improve your baby’s latch
Persistent nipple pain is one of the main reasons women discontinue breastfeeding. First time moms are more likely to experience nipple damage. Inappropriate positioning, latching, tongue tie, and oversupply are the most common causes of nipple damage. One way you can help improve your baby’s latch is by suck training. It saved my nipples, and it might save yours, too.
My daughter was a chronic tongue thruster which led to a lot of nipple damage early on. There's a video I posted on instagram of me saving my nipples by teaching her how to suck correctly. Instructions on how to do this are located at the end of this post.
First, transient nipple soreness is different from nipple damage caused by an improper latch. Here’s how you can tell the difference:
Transient soreness that does not indicate a problem:
Latch-on pain, mild pain, that lasts no more than 30 seconds into the feeding. The pain should NOT continue through the entire feeding, and there should not be pain between feedings.
Pain usually peaks around the third day after birth, and is gone within two weeks.
There are no cracks, blisters, or bleeding on the nipple.
Your nipple should look the same before and immediately after the feeding – not flattened, creased or pinched.
A newborn can have an abnormal latch because of a tongue tie, lip tie, high palate, or from a 'bad' habit formed in utero. If your baby has incorrect sucking habits or an intraoral restriction that interferes with normal breastfeeding, you might have:
Intense nipple pain during a feeding.
Visible nipple damage.
Pain between feedings.
Pain that persists beyond 2 weeks.
Incomplete draining of breasts with clogged ducts or mastitis.
Infant who isn't gaining weight.
If you fit any of those descriptions, please reach out for additional support!
In this post, I want to focus on infants who practice tongue thrusting without a tongue tie. If this is your baby, you will need to train your baby’s tongue how to relax. If your baby has tongue thrust, breastfeeding is the best choice as it helps with the proper development of your baby's teeth and jaw.
Here's how you suck train (head over to instagram for the video demonstration!):
Let your child suck your finger and apply gentle pressure to the palate.
Once the baby starts to suck on your finger, just press down with the back of your nail into the tongue. This usually interrupts the sucking motion while the baby pushes back against you. Listen for a seal break and then put your finger back up into the palate to re-stimulate sucking. Repeat as tolerated.