Some babies may suck incorrectly or may struggle with a weaker suck than others. A weak suck can lead to nipple pain and/or a low intake of milk.
A weak suck may also result in a lower milk supply, which contributes to less interest in the breast and therefore, the baby spends less time at the breast, to practice the art of breastfeeding.
Problems that may Cause a Weak Suck
• A sleepy baby: A baby may be extra sleepy due to medication given during labor, illness
or Jaundice. Some babies are overstimulated during certain times of the
day, leading to lethargy during feeding times.
• Tongue problems: There are a range of tongue problems that can cause sucking problems. For example: Poor latching technique, Tongue thrust, Tongue tie, short or long tongue, retracted tongue and tongue curling or sucking.
• Jaw clenching: Clenching of the jaw can also cause problems. Often called gum-biting or clamping.
• Sensory integration problems: This can cause “sensory overload” and makes it difficult for a baby to concentrate on feeding alone.
• Oral aversion:
Oral aversion is when a baby resists anything that touches the inside
of their mouth. This is usually the result of procedures done during and
after labor, such as forceful suctioning.
• Floppy baby:
A floppy baby may have low muscle tone or may have suffered from lack
of oxygen during birth. These babies struggle to move at all, and
usually have a weak suck.
• Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome:
Babies who were exposed to drugs in the womb may have problems sucking.
These drugs may include: Alcohol, marijuana, antidepressants, methadone
and many others.
Signs and Symptoms of a Sucking Problem
• Mom has sore nipples that are obviously the result of the hard palate rubbing on the nipple, because the nipple is distorted after feeding.
• Mom has engorged breasts for longer than one week after birth; this means that her baby is not removing enough milk from the breasts.
• Baby cries excessively because he/she is hungry.