Severe Pain from Shallow Latch - Help!
My 3-week old apparently is compressing my nipple and not getting much breast into the lower jaw. Her latch looks uneven ... alot of areola into the top lip, 1/3 as much into the lower. My nipple is pointed into a line after every feeding no matter what I do (I've tried different positions, laid back breastfeeding, taking pumping breaks and finger feeding, on and on), and she always goes back to the breast the same way. Needless to say, the pain becomes so great I'm just in tears all day. Fortunately, she is doing ok and weight gain and bowel movements are all good.
Lactation consultants have looked but see no tongue-tie. She has a bit of an overbite which may be contributing. Also, after pumping I notice the nipples turn white - what is this? I really want to continue to breastfeed, but am getting close to the breaking point.
Re: Severe Pain from Shallow Latch - Help!
Oh, mama, I feel your pain. I was in a similar situation when my LO was that age, only at 1 week an LC diagnosed him with a tongue-tie and a pediatrician clipped it. That helped, but like you, I still had problems with a shallow latch. He did have a bit of an overbite and wouldn't get as much breast into the lower jaw as the top. What really helped me was to contact my local LLL leader and have her come take a look. Do you have an LLL leader you can call? Mine showed me better positions I could use to make the feeding more comfortable. Also, she showed me how to adjust his lower jaw once he was latched--putting a finger in the middle of the chin and pulling down. This worked sometimes, but not others. For me the best "position" was the cross-cradle: for ex, if you are feeding on the left side, support baby's head and neck with your right hand, body with right arm, while supporting the left breast with the left hand, making sure baby is "tummy-to-tummy" and her head is level with the breast. This might require you to use several pillows, or "props" as my LLL leader calls them, to position her correctly. My favorite, which I still use, is the My Brest Friend Pillow, available for purchase at amazon.com (your LC might have the hospital version of this in her office, mine did). I find that I also need a small rolled up blanket to put under baby's head to get him high enough to the breast. So, holding baby and breast, move baby's head towards the breast (not breast towards baby), making sure the nipple is pointed slightly up to the roof of baby's mouth, so that the breast goes in baby's mouth at the lower jaw first, to try to get as much in as possible, then gently push/pull baby's head close in on the breast so the rest goes into the top of the mouth. I've probably not described this very well; I'm sure there are some videos out there that you could watch--might try googling.
The other thing that helped me, unfortunately, was time. Once my LO was about 2.5 or 3 months, his mouth had grown big enough so that he could fit more breast into it. I know that this is probably not what you want to hear, but it may just take some growing. Maybe not--I'm not an expert, am a first time mom. But I did suffer through about 2 months of painful feedings and was very committed to breastfeeding because that is what is best for babies.
Continue seeking help--return to the LCs as much as possible. They should be able to help you position baby so that it is at least tolerable to breastfeed. You might check around in your area for a pediatrician with experience in tongue-ties to get a second opinion. Less obvious ones are often hard to diagnose. And, try to get some one-on-one help from a local LLL leader. You might also see if there is a LLL group you can attend, or another mothers' group where you can talk about your problems with more experienced moms.
About the nipples turning white--this is a vasospasm, like the LLL book "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" (you should buy if you don't already have) describes, it's the nipples' way of saying "ouch". I got these too, especially after baby's mouth caused creases. If this is happening only after pumping, you may want to turn down the suction level of the pump. I have a Medela double electric and use it only on the lowest setting possible, which is enough to pump the milk I need. If you're not working right now and are at home/with baby all the time, I might hold off on the pumping for now until you can resolve some of the breastfeeding issues. Then, when there is less pain and injury to the nipples, try the pump again.
Best of luck, mama. Hang in there. You can do it. People said that to me when I was in tears over the whole mess, and I didn't believe them at first. I had a lot of pain, was miserable, and almost gave up on it. But I stuck it out, kept talking to different people, read everything I could on the net, joined this forum, and more. Now, after 8 months, I am so glad I stuck with it. It does get easier. Just don't give up if breastfeeding is what you want to do.