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Thread: Please help - latch issue with a toddler, lots of pain

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default Please help - latch issue with a toddler, lots of pain

    Sorry I have not introduced myself before posting, I'll do it later, as I am writing from somebody else's computer and the Internet connection is very unreliable and I want to post my question before it goes down again.

    I would be grateful if anyone could help with the problem that we've been having in the last couple of weeks. We are visiting relatives abroad, and due to sporadic Internet connection/only occasional Internet availability the time that I can spend searching is limited and also because of our set-up and the time differences I would really struggle to contact my local LLL Leaders or a breastfeeding counsellor, and the only one in this country that I know of is a good couple of hours flight away. So that's why I'm asking here - I hope it's OK.

    My nearly 2.5 year old daughter has strated latching on with her teeth in these last two couple of weeks, to the extent that she leaves bite marks around the tip of my nipple, which I can see every time after she latched off. It got so bad that I had infected wounds twice on the upper side of one nipple and have just started developing it on the upper side of the other.

    I think the reason for it is hers having had on a Chupa-Chups lollipops (CCs) binge in the last couple of weeks. A few times well-meaning strangers and relatives gave those to her all out of a sudden, without asking me, and since then she recognises the nasties and since they are sold everywhere, it is very difficult to keep them out of her site when we are out and about. So please do not flame me for DD's having had Chupa-Chups, especially that at home she never has those or anything of a kind normally and our diet is fairly healthy anyway. Anyway, hers continuing to have them is not a problem as I managed finally to explain to her that the sugar in those is what makes her teeth hurt, so I told about it only to explain how it came about. The relevance of the above is that I think she confuses the 'latch' she'd make on CCs (the actual lollipop further in her mouth, her teeth around the stick) vs that on my nipple (she started putting her teeth out, i.e. cover up her lower teeth less with her tongue and clamp the top teeth on the tip of my nipple). She started taking less of my areola into her mouth too.

    What I have tried to do so far is, firstly, obviously to have eliminated the culprit (now after many explanations she seems to understand that the sugar in them is what makes her teeth hurt so she took the decision not to have them or so it seems). Secondly, I have tried to explain to her that her latch will be pain-free for me if she puts her teeth away, takes in more of my areola into her mouth (I showed her how much) and opens up her mouth wide to take it in rather than clamp on the tip of my nipple straight away. But, I have not got far with my explanations, so would be grateful if anyone could share ideas an experience on how to correct toddler's latch.

    We have been enjoying breastfeeding so far (after initial problems and such), and the benefits of it for my toddler and myself. We've been hoping for full-term breastfeeding/natural-term/child-led weaning, and I feel really frustrated that the problem that we are having now has happened when I am physically away from my resources and support network. My DD feeds anything from 3 to 10 times during the night, and I do not count how often but closer to 10 than 3 times during the day, and I hate to see it diminishing rapidly in the last week and her sucking on her fingers instead, and her distress from that, as her biting and the condition of my nipples deteriorates.

    And, personally, I'm really at my wits end because of the pain - starting the morning with a painful bite on my nipple does not set me well for a day that often turns out to be too stressful as is, and I hate to fear the pain every time that my DD latches on (however much I think I've braced myself for the pain, it makes me jump or yell sometimes when she bites during feedings and on latching off).

    I'll get in touch with my local LLL councellor as soon as I am back home but I have another seven days (can you tell I am counting, LOL) between now and then,, and the pain and the bite wounds inform everything that I do and how I communicate with my daughter so badly that I hope to have some suggestions on how to make it easier in the meanwhile.

    Many thanks for your wisdom in advance, ladies and sorry it was such a long post.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    1,168

    Default Re: Please help - latch issue with a toddler, lots of pain

    Your explanation about the lollipops confusing her latch makes a lot of sense to me, so I'm sure the most important step is already done -- no more of those lollipops.

    It sounds to me like you are communicating well with your daughter, to gain her cooperation. My son and I sometimes had slight problems with his teeth -- just to the point of discomfort for me, never so severe as to break the skin -- and I would unlatch at the first discomfort, show him the teeth marks, show him how to open wide with his tongue extended well over his bottom teeth. Keep encouraging her and be sure to praise her every time she latches well.

    You need to treat those wounds on your breast -- especially if you are in a more remote location, you don't want mess around with infections. Skin trauma can lead to thrush as well as to bacterial infections (including mastitis). Can you apply a broad spectrum antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin, after every nursing?

    I'm so sorry you're dealing with this; it sounds very frustrating and painful, especially when you are away from home. Good luck and keep us posted as your situation allows.

    --Rebecca

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: Please help - latch issue with a toddler, lots of pain

    Sounds like the stress of travel and disrupted routines may also be playing a part. Is it possible to slow down a bit? Make things more like home?

    Hang in there!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    1,064

    Default Re: Please help - latch issue with a toddler, lots of pain

    I have faced some latch/biting issues with my DS on a couple of occasions over the last year or so (he's 2). For us, it was related to teething, and he seemed to go back to his normal latch and suck after the teething was done. I'm not sure I have any good information for you on correcting the latch , but a couple things were helpful for me in relieving some of the pain and helping healing (I ended up with cracks a couple times, too.) When nursing, it was a little less painful if I tried to position DS at a slightly different angle than usual so that his teeth/strongest point of pressure didn't line up with the cracks on my nipple. At night this meant sitting up to nurse rather than remaining lying down. I also always nursed on the least sore side first to give the other side more of a rest. I ended up a little lopsided on supply, but that can easily be remedied later. Finally, I used Lansinoh as well as some antibiotic ointment to avoid infection. Even better would be some of the all purpose nipple ointment (I think by Dr. Jack Newman??) that includes both antibiotic and antifungal and helps healing. Hope you're feeling better soon!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Please help - latch issue with a toddler, lots of pain

    Thank you Rebecca, momuvseven and llowe !

    We are back home now and during our away, things have actually got better since I posted here . DD went from biting less frequently to biting infrequently, and now she bites very lightly, only occasionally, only sometimes when she is falling asleep or is nursing when waking up (she did bite me BAD a couple of times when she was falling asleep or waking up though - and because she is half-asleep during those times, breaking the latch results in her getting really distressed and crying for ages ). When she is awake, she seems to have a firm hold of the idea that the way that she latches can leave teeth marks and make mommy hurt (she even asks 'mummy's booby alwight, yes?' sometimes when she nearly nips my nipple, no pun intended). Do not ask me how many repititions of the same it has taken to get the idea accross to her, LOL .

    Even the bite marks on my nipples have almost gone.

    I am glad that I am home, as apart from the whole biting saga, it was a very stressful stay, with my mother bashing my breastfeeding of a 'grown-up girl' non-stop. She would try to sneak an occasional lollipop all the time, and when I'd catch her at that, she'd tell that lollipops are good for my DD and that she developed those teeth problems (during our stay with them, no less!) not because of boiled sweets but because my milk is not good enough with me being a vegetarian (OK, I have that LLL link and all the research citations about vegetarian mothers' milk, but it does not make a slightest difference to my mother, but I digress)... and all the blaming and shaming that went on about my DD BFing.

    Anyway, all's well that ends well, and I'm really glad to be home , and thank you again .

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