18 answers

Help! Wider Latch-on Needed

Hi,
My baby is feeding really well (she's 5 days old now) and has already surpassed her birth weight, but her latch is so narrow that its killing my nipples. Anybody have any suggestions on how to get her to latch-on more widely? We've been to the doctor and have been assured that there aren't any physical or other kinds of problems, it's just that she wants to latch very narrowly. I didn't have any problems BFing my son in the beginning, so I'd love some advice (even if it's just for a lactation consultant).

Thanks!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hi, I appreciate all this support and advice! In the end, I decided I wanted some one-on-one advice from a lactation consultant, and am SO happy that I took the advice of one poster and called Peggy at the Art of Breastfeeding ###-###-####). She took the time to help me work with my baby and restored my confidence and joy in breastfeeding. I understand better the advice I'm reading here after talking with her, and appreciate the tips to call someone with experience!

Featured Answers

Doctors are not the best for this -- call the Art of Breast Feeding, ###-###-####.
I've used them for both of my daughters and they are great!

More Answers

I had the same issues with my second. I really recommend picking up Breastfeeding Made Simple. It really helped me the second time around. The website has some really great animations that may help as well.

Couple tips:
1. Try making a "sandwich" out of your breast so there is a smaller area for her to have to get into her mouth

2. Try to get her to open really really wide by tickling her cheek with your nipple and then watching for that reflex and pop it in. Know that you will most likely have to do it over and over. Make sure to break the seal with your finger before pulling her off if her latch is too narrow.

3. Know that her mouth is tiny and it will get bigger and it will get easier. It's great that she's gaining so she's getting milk.

4. Try doing the "roll on technique"- where you lead her to latch on with the bottom of her mouth and roll her mouth to latch the top last.

5. Use lots of support-- pillows- boppies.

6. Be patient. You are BOTH learning this. Even though you've done this before-- you haven't done this before with HER!

7. Maybe the most important of all. CALL A LLL leader. Go to a meeting. Call a lactation consultant. There's one who frequents this board.

Get help NOW before you get yourself into trouble. Painful nipples are not necessary and you risk mastitis (I've had it and it's NO fun).

Where are you located-- I'd be happy to help you find resources.

Most drs. are not helpful when it comes to these things as they are not trained for this!

1 mom found this helpful

My second child did the same thing and it about killed me. For a few weeks I had to continually pop her off and hold her back until she opened her mouth wider and then allow her to re-latch. She would often narrow down again, but after a few weeks of the constant do-overs she got the hang of it. I would hold her back and she would open that little mouth wider and wider trying to find the goods. Then I would kinda squeeze my breast to bulge it and then insert in the wider mouth. It took awhile but it worked finally....or maybe she just did it better as she got older on her own...who knows. Kinda hard to ask her.

1 mom found this helpful

With my second son, I had to really "teach" him how to get the right latch. This is difficult because you're still holding their head and it seems like you need another hand or something but what helped him was to literally place a good amount of the nipple and areola in his mouth after stroking his cheek a little. If he did not have a good latch I would gently break the latch by inserting my finger and then try again. Also, it doesn't hurt to have a lactation consultant check his latch as they may have other ideas and information. Congrats on your new little one!

Try holding the breast in one hand and the baby's little head in the other hand. Tickle her mouth with the nipple and as soon as she opens wide, very quickly push her onto the nipple. If she doesn't get all or most of the areola in her mouth, you might want to try again. Slip your finger into the side of her mouth and pop her off. It sometimes takes a couple of tries especially when they are so tiny. Another trick when she is already latched on is to push down gently on her little chin to open her mouth wider, rolling her lower lip out into a pouty lip. You can also try and roll her upper lip out a little while she is latched on. It can be painful if their little lips are rolled in instead of out. Don't worry if you have to re-latch a few times each time you feed her. She is learning and eventually she will do it on her own.

I used a lactation consultant at the Art of Breastfeeding. I don't remember her name - maybe peggy. She was great. She came to the house. It cost $200 I think but was worth every penny.

M.:

I would be happy to see you and help you ..

P., RLC, IBCLC, CST
Breastfeeding and Parenting Solutions
www.breastfeedingandparentingsolutions.com
800 LACTATE(800 822 5253)

I also had issues and really the best help you can get is hands on help. I would really encourage you to go see or have a lactation consultant come to your home. It takes some practice and you don't want the baby getting into bad habits. It can get so painful, so for the sake of your nipples have a LC watch and give you feedback ;)Good luck!!

When I had problems breastfeeding at the beginning I had Peggy Healy come to my house. She is a lactation consultant with The Art of Breastfeeding. She works in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

http://www.artofbreastfeeding.com/?page_id=2.

She was amazing and helped me so much. I bet she'd have some great suggestions. And a friend of mine called her on the phone once to ask some questions, and there was no charge for that, and according to my friend it was really helpful.

Good Luck and congratulations on your new baby!

My toddler had that exact problem, though I didn't know it until I had my twins. One had a perfect latch and the other's was narrow, as you called it.

One way to get the baby to open up more is to stroke her upper lip with your nipple. There is a highly sensitive bundle of nerves there that respond beautifully by making the baby open up. Most books will tell you to stroke their chin or nose, which can work as well. Also, turning the baby's body so that her hips face up, forcing her to turn her head can work (again, the books say differently, but it worked for my narrow-mouther, so....)

But what ultimately solved the problem for my baby twin was taking him to a cranio-sacral/physical therapist (she treated all ages, not just babies, so it may be VERY easy to find one in your area) who assessed him and worked to loosen the muscles in his upper back, neck and, believe it or not, his head. One visit, $50, and my kid is a pleasure to BF. I followed up by giving him a back massage daily, but that was really just to reconnect us!

Good luck!
A. P

You've gotten good advice here, I just wanted to add that to help give you some relief in between nursing, you can try softshields. They keep your nipple from rubbing against your bra and let it stay in a natural shape rather than squishing it in your bra....and let it stay dry so it can heal. They were a life saver for me.
http://store.nursingmothersupplies.com/cgi-bin/store-moth...

I had similar latch problems with my son....it is so hard when you can't get them to eat/eat properly. Another product that helped me ALOT was a My Brest Friend pillow. It positions the baby just perfectly to help you out with latch....boppies and regular pillows can't do that. You can't mess it up when you use a My Brest Friend.

Bravo!! She sounds like she is doing well, but it is Momma that is having trouble.I successfully nursed my first child well past his 2nd birthday. I thought I knew it all. My second child didn't latch well and eventually began losing weight. I spent time with a lactation consultant from our hospital. She worked with us over a few days to teach us both how to nurse better. I learned how to pull her chin down and push her on to my breast for a better latch. My painfully sore nipples healed and she gained weight. It was worth the struggle and the tears. It is a challange in the beginning but working with someone in person can resolve the problem more quickly. My advise is to contact your hospital for a resource. Good Luck!

my lactation consultant recommended pointing my nipple at her nose this made her tilt her head back more which opens her mouth more

M.-
The best group to contact would be LaLeche League. Most towns have a local chapter with a group support meeting. They should be able to go over techniques and positions or refer you to your local pediatric chiropractor to be examined for jaw and cranial alignment.
J.

This is a tricky time for the two of you. You both are learning together.
You can call La Letche League or a lactation consolante .

My son had a small latch too, although I was able to get him on wide enough so it wouldn't hurt. The advice I've always heard is to unlatch her if she's not on properly and keep trying until she's got a good latch. It will be frustrating at first for both of you but she will learn that she needs to open wider to get milk!

Doctors are not the best for this -- call the Art of Breast Feeding, ###-###-####.
I've used them for both of my daughters and they are great!

I breastfed for 6 months and helped a few of my fiends. You know the little bird that searches for food beek wide open?

when she starts to "root" for your breast try gently tickling the side of her mouth to make her open wider and then offer her your whole nippple. Does that make sense?

Lainey

Medela makes a product called "nipple shields"... They're silicone guards that go over your nipples and protect them from inexperienced eaters. I used them for 5 weeks with my little one and they helped her figure out how to eat politely w/o killing me! You can get them at Target or Be By Baby (if you're in the city, I recommend this store at the corner of Lincoln/Roscoe/Paulina as a FANTASTIC resource for breastfeeding support). Good luck!

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