Hi, my baby is now 3 weeks old and has been breastfeeding exclusively from day one. I think her latch is shallow as I always feel pain when she latches on and for a minute or so and then when she's finished my nipple comes out in a funny shape, like a new lipstick. My nipples feel sore after she's finished feeding. Both my nipples cracked and were bleeding for the first 2 weeks since her birth. Now they've healed but I don't think I'm supposed to feel pain still? what can I do to improve the latch and lessen the pain? Her weight gain is fine and she's a very healthy baby. Also she feeds for a very long time, 45 minutes sometimes. After how long does the breast become empty? Sometimes my breasts feel empty and sh's still suckling, but if I make her come off the breast she cries and does not fall asleep. Is she using the breast as a dummy?she only falls asleep at the breast
Re: latching problem
Regarding sucking for a long time..,that can be normal, but it can also indicate a milk transfer problem. How is weight and wets/stools?
The shape of your nipple and the pain indicate you have an ongoing latch problem, which are much easier for hands-on help with an IBCLC watching to fix.
If the pain is only the first 30-60 seconds, that is within the realm of normal, but...IME, by 3 weeks, it is usually just right at latch on when you might go ouch. If the pain is the whole session, there is a problem with the latch or thrush is present.
Work really hard to get a deep latch by getting her to open super wide.
Has she been checked for tongue tie? That can contribute to a shallow latch.
Do you have a lot of milk, or is your letdown forceful? Sometimes babies have shallow latches to cope with that. Try laying down or back to nurse, or start the milk flowing and let the excess go into a towel.
It is OK for her to suck at an empty breast ;)
And you are also dealing with the three week growth spurt. Make yourself comfy and nurse ;) It will be OK.
Re: latching problem
:ita with the PP. The fact that your cracks have healed means that your baby's latch is improving, and that's great even though you are still seeing lipstick nipples and have pain. A baby's latch almost always gets better if mom can just hang in there through the rough early days. Newborn mouths are tiny and can't latch on deeply, but babies grow and their mouths grow! So if you can just be patient, I think your issues will work themselves out.
Lipstick nipples mean that your baby's latch is too shallow, and as she feeds your nipple is getting compressed between her tongue and hard palate (most likely). Sometimes babies compress the nipple because it slows the flow of milk, which often happens when mom has a ton of milk and it comes out really fast. If you are frequently engorged, see milk spray or squirt from the breast when baby comes off the breast during a feeding, if you leak a lot, if you can pump multiple oz of milk after nursing (if you are pumping), if your baby ever chokes, coughs, gags, splutters, clicks, or clucks during nursing- all those things could point to an oversupply issue and fast letdown.
Often, however, a shallow latch is not a letdown issue but rather a problem with the baby not getting deep enough onto the breast when she latches. When baby has a shallow latch and mom has an average milk supply, long feedings can be the result, since baby has to feed for a long time to make up for the slow trasnfer of milk. Tongue-tie, a small mouth, or a positioning issue can be the root problem- so it really makes sense to seek hands-on help from a lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC. Meanwhile, you might want to google the words "nipple sandwich technique" for descriptions of a way to get more breast into the baby's mouth.
Regarding breast emptiness, the breast is actually NEVER empty, because milk is produced as the breast is drained. The faster the breast is drained, the faster milk is made to replace what was taken out. You can't empty a cup that's always being refilled! It's usually best to allow a baby to set her own time limits at the breast. However, if you feel like your baby has thoroughly drained both breasts and still seems unsatisfied if you take her off the breast, you can always switch her back to the breast you started the feeding with, and then to the second breast if she still seems hungry after that. Switch nursing is great for supply.
Falling asleep at the breast and using the breast as a dummy are totally normal for such a young baby, and are not indicative of any sort of problem. In fact, having your baby use the breast as a dummy is a good thing- it's good for supply, and good for her to be warm and close to mom. This phase won't last forever! Best thing you can do right now is to just accept that right now your baby's entire world is your breast, and just let her spend as much time as she wants there.
You're doing a great job, mama!