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Thread: Still having latch problems at 4 weeks!

  1. #1

    Default Still having latch problems at 4 weeks!

    Hi all!

    My DD is now just over 4 weeks. She was born 2 weeks early. I am writing as I need words of encouragement or advice. It seems like nursing has been one problem after another, or perhaps all related to the same problem, since the beginning. Nursing has been very painful since first latch, and has not much improved since then. The first problem is that I have very large breasts and small nipples, but I know this is not a huge problem so long as the baby is conditioned, but we are having a hard time getting there.

    Looking back, I did not do much research on breastfeeding before birth, as I felt like it would be something that came natural. Little did I know!! I hired a doula who told me she was experienced in lactation, but I learned quickly she was not. She didn't advise me properly on getting enough of my areola in her mouth, and have always had a very shallow latch. My nipples were severely injured that first week, badly bruised and bleeding all the time. The hospital LC was mildly helpful in telling me about basic BF techniques, but not specifics.

    Because of the bad latch, my LO did not get enough colostrum in the beginning and lost over a pound (she was just shy of 7lbs at birth), plus my milk did not come in for more than 5 days, even though it was a vaginal birth. Since my milk has come in we have struggled each time we nurse to get a good latch. I spend all my free time researching and watchng videos on how to do this but I still can't get a pain free latch. Maybe every 12 nursing sessions I will get one. I also had a painful blob on my nipple since then that my MW had to pierce with a needle, and several clogged ducts. I suspect it is all related to the fact that my LO is not getting milk out efficiently due to her latch. But then again, I am not that educated in BF.

    We can't afford a private lactation consultant, but we found a wonderful woman at Boston Children's Hospital who agreed to see us with no charge briefly. She was able to get my my baby to latch on correctly multiple times. It was wonderful. Since then (more than a week ago) I struggle each time to match that latch. Some times it happens, but mostly it doesn't. The LC confirmed our baby does not have a TT or thrush. Our LO also was just seen by doctor and has gained weight appropriately and appears to be getting enough milk.

    So please some words of encouragement, WILL IT GET BETTER eventually with more practice? Even 4 weeks in can I still condition my baby to open wide enough and to get a good latch?

    I so badly want BF to be a pleasant experience instead of the dread I feel for the pain my nipples go through.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Still having latch problems at 4 weeks!

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby, and on making it to 4 weeks of nursing despite some significant hurdles!

    The first thing I want to assure you is that yes, it does get better!!! Your baby is still so very young- even younger than her chronological age, because she was born a bit early. Tiny babies have tiny mouths, and they are weak and uncoordinated. This makes them difficult to nurse even at the best of times. Imagine trying to hold onto a water balloon bigger than your own head using just your lips and tongue, while simultaneously being too weak and uncoordinated to move your head where you need it to be- oh, and you never did it before, either! That's what nursing is like for a newborn. But the awesome thing about babies is that they and their mouths grow, and they get stronger and more able. As that happens most latch problems go away. (I speak from experience- I had terrible cracks for the first 4.5 months of my first baby's life, which is way longer than average. I reconciled myself to dealing with the pain until I could wean her to solids, but then all of a sudden the cracks healed and we went on to enjoy another 3 years of nursing!)

    It sounds like you are definitely still experiencing latch problems, since nursing is still so painful. When baby unlatches, what shape are your nipples- more symmetrical, like pencil erasers, or more asymmetric/ridged/wedged/shaped like new lipsticks? Lipstick nipples would indicate a problem related to a shallow latch. If that's what you're seeing, I would encourage you to go back to the LC and inquire about something called the sandwich technique, which is good for cramming maximum breast into a tiny mouth. I would also experiment with different positions- a lot of moms have good luck with the reclined, down-under (a.k.a. football hold) and side-lying positions. You never know what position will enable baby to gain a better latch.

    Large-breasted moms often have to hold the breast throughout the feeding. Otherwise it drags down on the baby's tiny mouth, causing her to slip up and lose her latch. If your hand is getting tired out, the side-lying position can help, since the bed will support both baby and breast. You can also prop your breast up into a better position using a rolled-up washcloth.

    Blebs are a lot more common when a latch problem is in the mix. They often result not from improper drainage to the breast, but rather from abrasion/compression of the nipple. The bleb is basically a little callous that is forming in response to injury, and is sealing off one of the ducts. Varying your nursing position may help, since the baby's mouth will fall in different orientations and no one bit of nipple will be bearing the brunt of the baby's latch issue. If you get another bleb, I personally feel that the best person to take care of it is you- just sterilize a needle and pick at it until you can get milk out of that duct. You're better equipped than any other person on earth, including the midwife, to know when you have gone too far, because you're the only person with nerve endings at both ends of the needle.

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