Have you experienced difficulties with infant latching whilst breastfeeding? Although latching problems can be discouraging and frustrating, it’s important to remember that this is completely normal for a lot of new moms. In fact, one study from UC Davis suggests that 92% of new moms have trouble breastfeeding in the three days after giving birth, and half experience latching problems.
If you’re unsure if this applies to you, there are several ways to determine if your infant may have difficulty latching.
For mothers, examining your nipples may be a good place to start. Telltale signs of ineffective latching include constantly bruised and sore nipples, red or chafed nipples, and misshapen nipples (i.e. creased or flattened). You may also notice a lack of fullness in the breasts before nursing and a lack of softening once finished.
There are also ways to tell if there are latching problems by noticing your infant’s feeding cues. If your baby does not wake to cue for feedings, or cues less than 8 times or more than 14 times during a 24-hour period, this may indicate ineffective latching. The length of feeding can also be useful to observe. Infants who feed for more than 30 to 40 minutes on one side, or for more than 45 minutes without seeming full may not be sufficiently feeding due to difficulty latching.
If this sounds familiar to you, there are ways to improve the process!
If your baby has not yet mastered feeding cues, wake them every 2-3 hours to feed. Whilst feeding, gently massage your breast in downward strokes to help your little one latch. Research suggests that skin-to-skin contact may help shorten the time it takes to resolve latching by reducing stress in the infant. Some products such as a nipple shield, which can help encourage better latching or a feeding tube system from which the baby can suck, may also be useful.
If latching difficulties persist or if your baby is not maintaining growth, you may want to consider seeking help from a healthcare professional or a certified lactation consultant.
Tracking your infant’s feeding patterns, nappy output, and growth are helpful in determining if there might be a problem. This can easily be done through the Onoco app and shared with practitioners so that you can work together to find a solution.
Most importantly, remember that this is completely normal for new moms and you are not alone.
There are ways to help and it will get better!