Breastfeeding can be a beautiful journey for mothers and their babies. But if breastfeeding is causing discomfort and pain, a baby’s latch could be the problem. Nipple pain that lingers beyond a slight tenderness with initial latching might be a sign that there is something wrong with latch, position, or suck.
A painful latch occurs when a baby does not grasp enough breast tissue (this is called a shallow latch) or his/her tongue is positioned improperly. Good positioning and latch on are especially important the first week of a newborn’s life. Some common positions to help with latch include football hold, cradle, and cross cradle positions. It is important that your baby’s mouth is open wide to ensure a good latch, with the tongue cupped and forward in his mouth. When your baby’s mouth is open wide, cup your breast like a C and latch. Baby should be able to compress the breast tissue in his mouth with the nipple positioned deep in his mouth. Make sure the lower lip is fanned outward, which can be done by gently pulling down the corner of your baby’s mouth. If the latch feels painful, unlatch and re-latch.
Other causes of painful latch could include:
- Tongue tie
- Flat or inverted nipples
If latching your baby is still painful, please talk with your CPCMG pediatrician or CPCMG lactation consultant. You can also find more information with La Leche League International.