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Thread: Latching Problems

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Unhappy Latching Problems

    I'm having problems breastfeeding my daughter, born only a few days ago. She never seems to open her mouth wide enough to get a good latch, and it gets frustrating for both of us. I'm trying to bring her in toward the breast instead of the other way around, but she wiggles and turns her head or puts her hand in the way, so I can't see what she or I are doing--much less get her successfully on to the breast.

    I thought maybe swaddling her would help, but again...she wiggles too much to get her swaddled very well. It's frustrating enough without feeling like I'm having to fight her at the same time. She's surprisingly strong, and I don't want to hurt her or turn her off to breastfeeding, but it's becoming increasingly stressful for both of us. Both of my nipples are now sore with blisters and have bled a little. I know she isn't getting a good latch because it HURTS when she feeds, and the tip of the nipple is white and creased when she comes off, instead of elongated and round. I'm trying so hard to get her to latch on well, but she just doesn't open her mouth wide enough most of the time. I'm going to call my lactation consultant again tomorrow, but I'm certainly open to additional advice and suggestions. I'm quite desperate. I just want to feed her.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2008
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    Smile Re: Latching Problems

    Well hang in there!!! I had many problems with my lo when we first started but he is 7 months now and we are still going strong. But I had alot of latch issues, bleeding and cracked nipples. DS even had a moutful of blood once!!! But i found out, on my own, that he was latching on to the nipple and not getting his mouth open wide enough to get the areola too. No matter how much I tried and how many weeks I struggled through, he wouldnt keep his mouth off my nipple. Sometimes he would get latched on perfectly but eventually work his way just to on the nipple. I eventually had to use a nipple shield to help with the latch issue and sliding down on the nipple only.

    Most women can wean the baby off these eventually as well. My DS has refused to nurse unles the shield is on. But like I said it has been 7 months and counting with no problems. Please keep your head up I understand how hard it is. Definitely get intouch with a Lactation person, I had to teach myself everything. Many hugs

  3. #3
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    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Latching Problems

    I would second the idea of the nipple shield. I wish that they had been available here when I started BFing. We had major latch problems for a while. It took 2 1/2 months for my son to latch on properly and nurse for at least 10-15 minutes!
    You definitely need an LC to come in and see what's going on but it does sound like your LO is not taking in the areola. You could tickle her chin to get her to open wider.

    Just don't give up. We were able to establish a very successful BFing relationship in the end - I am positive you will be able to do the same!
    Andrea - mama to Laith 02.20.07 and Sommer 01.21.11
    'Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune.' - Noam Chomsky

  4. #4
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    Nov 2006
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    Default Re: Latching Problems

    Can you describe what happens when you try and latch in greater detail? What positions are you using? What sort of breast support is needed, do you have a pillow? Are you using your hand to support the back of baby's neck? Explain your hand placement. There is a startle reflex that can be triggered by touching the baby's head. If you balance the base of the skull with your thumb and middle finger there is less contact. Having a relaxed mama and baby, will help the latch. Get yourself comfy first and try latching techniques when baby is not already starving. A hungry student is a slow learner!

  5. #5
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    Apr 2008
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    Default Re: Latching Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by QuillWriter View Post
    I thought maybe swaddling her would help, but again...she wiggles too much to get her swaddled very well. It's frustrating enough without feeling like I'm having to fight her at the same time. She's surprisingly strong, and I don't want to hurt her or turn her off to breastfeeding, but it's becoming increasingly stressful for both of us.
    Well, seeing as how I'm a guy, I can't offer too much advice with breastfeeding, but I can offer my 2 cents wrt swaddling. My son is 10 days old, and swaddling really seems to help when he's agitated. We had the same experience of his hands getting in the way of breastfeeding when he's really fussy, but tight swaddling pretty much nips that in the bud (no pun intended). I've found that when he's really cranky, he'll resist me swaddling him like a madman, but the second I get him wrapped and am holding him on his side, he usually settles right down. In general, the fussier he is, the tighter I swaddle him. I wouldn't worry about hurting her; they're pretty tough.

    BTW, most of this is coming from "Happiest Baby on the Block," in which the author believes that it's really not possible to swaddle them too tightly, because they'll be able to wiggle around a little no matter how tight you get them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Latching Problems



    Breastfeeding shouldn't be painful. The crease and white tips are good signs that your baby is not getting a deep latch. The good news is that a minor tweak in latch and position can fix this. Glad to hear that you're getting in person help from your IBCLC.

    Here are some videos that you might find helpful:
    http://www.ameda.com/breastfeeding/s.../latch_on.aspx
    http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastf...uteHelper.html

    And a few print links:
    www.llli.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVDecJan03p123.html
    http://www.kellymom.com/bf/start/bas...resources.html

  7. #7

    Default Re: Latching Problems

    Gentle Reminder: Nipple shields should be used only under the guidance of a LLL Leader or IBCLC
    "Mothers are designed to be available to their babies--to help them make the transition into this big, wide world. To teach them to trust, and love, and feel good about being alive."
    --Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq., So I Nursed Him Every 45 Minutes

    Click here to find your local LLL Group
    How to tell if your breastfed baby is getting enough milk!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    779

    Default Re: Latching Problems

    are you catching her feeding cues? Opening her mouth, wiggling..rem sleep, bringing her hands to her mouth/fists...these cues offer the best time to latch babies. If you miss them and try to latch her, she may already be too frustrated at that point.

    do a google search for dr. jack newman..who offers a video on latching..it helped me a ton.

    hang in there...it gets easier and you're doing he right thing by trying to find support. We're here for you!
    Mom to Colin Robert - Born on January 28, 2007

    Check out my website:
    www.nycbreastfeeding.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    5

    Default Re: Latching Problems

    Hello everyone! Sorry it's taken so long to post again. We've been very busy these past few days. My husband went in with me and the baby to see the LC, and I think that meeting helped a bit. Turns out, it was more than one issue. Part of it was me, part of it was the baby. For my part, I found out that the main problem was that when I held her to latch on, my wrist wasn't straight when I held the base of my LO's skull between my thumb and fingers, and the palm of my hand should be resting on her shoulderblades. Figuring that out helped somewhat.

    However, we still had problems after that because the LC told me that every time she wasn't latched on right, I had to take her off. Well, after one horrible evening where the baby just got tooo upset and mommy similarly so, I stopped doing that. She just kept latching on wrong over and over again, and to be pulled off the breast over and over again and not get any substantial amount of food over the course of several hours....all it did was frustrate and upset her, and I didn't like that. That being said, I compromised. I'll take her off right away if she latches directly onto the nipple itself because that's where it hurts, but for a more shallow latch, I couldn't bear to keep taking her off again and again and making her cry. So, I grit my teeth and bore it for the shallower latches where she wasn't just right on the nipple, but which weren't perfect either. I've made another appointment with the LC about the issue because I have some questions about it. Really, I think her mouth is just too small, for one, and for the other, it's hard to get her to open her mouth wide enough for long enough to latch on.

    All this being said, there has been some progress over this weekend! She rarely latches onto just the nipple itself now, and after talking to my sister and reviewing some of the videos someone here suggested, it's getting easier to get a deeper latch now, even if it's touch and go. I think my LO's mouth is just too small right now to get a really deep latch by just opening her mouth on her own. I'm going back to the LC again, though, just to see if she has any advice/ideas on how to get LO to open her mouth more, as everything I've tried so far hasn't worked.

    he was latching on to the nipple and not getting his mouth open wide enough to get the areola too. No matter how much I tried and how many weeks I struggled through, he wouldnt keep his mouth off my nipple. Sometimes he would get latched on perfectly but eventually work his way just to on the nipple.
    This was the gist of the problem, yes. And it still is, though I'm happy to report that we've made a SLIGHT bit of progress in that she seems to not latch directly onto the nipple as often. I have a feeling this is due to a number of reasons, both on her side and mine. Still, sometimes we can't get it timed quite right for the latching, and she ends up with a mouthful of nipple and I have to take her off again.

    You definitely need an LC to come in and see what's going on but it does sound like your LO is not taking in the areola. You could tickle her chin to get her to open wider.
    Well, I tried tickling her chin with my nipple to get her to open wider, but that doesn't seem to work. Neither does running the tip of the nipple along her upper lip, nor resting the tip of it above her upper lip. She doesn't seem to respond to it much, if at all.

    Can you describe what happens when you try and latch in greater detail? What positions are you using? What sort of breast support is needed, do you have a pillow? Are you using your hand to support the back of baby's neck? Explain your hand placement. There is a startle reflex that can be triggered by touching the baby's head. If you balance the base of the skull with your thumb and middle finger there is less contact. Having a relaxed mama and baby, will help the latch. Get yourself comfy first and try latching techniques when baby is not already starving. A hungry student is a slow learner!
    I had been using primarily the football hold until recently, because it seemed to be the easiest way to get her to latch, but when we started having so many latch problems, even that didn't necessarily make much difference. Now I'm using cross-cradle hold or the football hold when I nurse. As for breast support, that's a bit of an issue itself. I don't have a good enough nursing pillow, I think, to allow me to have both proper posture and proper support at the same time. I'm on the lookout for a good nursing pillow, as I've heard mixed things about the boppy one. In the meantime, I'm doing all right if I sit in my husband's recliner, as upright as it allows me to be, and using one of his thickest pillows for support. It's not perfect, but it's the best I can do at the moment. I don't feel so hunched over or tilted to the side, that way.

    As for the hand support, this turned out to be part (not all) of the problem, when I went in to see the LC. I was holding on to her head fine, but my wrist was bent and floppy, and I needed it to be straight, which I didn't know. Makes things somewhat easier. So that helped a lot when I found that out, even if it was only part of the problem.

    Well, seeing as how I'm a guy, I can't offer too much advice with breastfeeding, but I can offer my 2 cents wrt swaddling. My son is 10 days old, and swaddling really seems to help when he's agitated. We had the same experience of his hands getting in the way of breastfeeding when he's really fussy, but tight swaddling pretty much nips that in the bud (no pun intended). I've found that when he's really cranky, he'll resist me swaddling him like a madman, but the second I get him wrapped and am holding him on his side, he usually settles right down. In general, the fussier he is, the tighter I swaddle him. I wouldn't worry about hurting her; they're pretty tough.

    BTW, most of this is coming from "Happiest Baby on the Block," in which the author believes that it's really not possible to swaddle them too tightly, because they'll be able to wiggle around a little no matter how tight you get them.
    Aha! See, I'm glad you replied! I've watched part of the video of "Happiest Baby on the Block," now, and I tried what you suggested. I think I'm getting better at it now, and she does seem to calm right now as soon as she's swaddled tightly, no matter how much she seems like she doesn't want to be swaddled at first. Thank you very much!

    The LC said that her putting her hands in the way like that was a sign of frustration, and I'll grant that. It can be. But what she doesn't know/see day to day is how wiggly my daughter is, period. Even when she's calm, her arms and legs are moving everywhere. They're in the way, period, when I try to breastfeed her. No matter what mood she's in.

    The crease and white tips are good signs that your baby is not getting a deep latch. The good news is that a minor tweak in latch and position can fix this. Here are some videos that you might find helpful:

    http://www.ameda.com/breastfeeding/s.../latch_on.aspx
    http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastf...uteHelper.html
    I've watched the videos, and I'm starting to try to put them into practice. It's hit and miss, still, but things seem to be improving a bit, so I do thank you.

    are you catching her feeding cues? Opening her mouth, wiggling..rem sleep, bringing her hands to her mouth/fists...these cues offer the best time to latch babies. If you miss them and try to latch her, she may already be too frustrated at that point.

    do a google search for dr. jack newman..who offers a video on latching..it helped me a ton.
    I'm watching for her feeding cues, as they told us to/about in my childcare classes, but being as I'm new at this, I'm not sure I'm picking up on all of them all the time, yet--the REM sleep, for example. I usually keep an eye out for sucking motions and opening of the mouth, as well as bringing hands to the mouth. I've gotten pretty good at recognizing those, I think, but it's not perfect yet.

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