Latching Problems

Breastfeeding, Positioning, and Latching

breastfeeding, skin to skin contact, lathing on issues

Latching problems can interfere with the amount of milk that the baby receives, and it can cause nipple pain.

Please read the following, if you are worried about your baby's milk intake:

Main Causes of Latching Problems

Signs and symptoms of latching issues

bonding with baby, bonding, mom and dad with baby
  • The baby’s mouth is at an angle of less than 160° when breastfeeding. 
  • The baby’s cheeks are dimpled. 
  • You can hear clicking sounds while the baby is breastfeeding.
  • The breast keeps slipping out of the baby’s mouth. 
  • The mother has pain in the areolae area, as well as nipple pain. 

Latching Problem Tips

  • The mother and the baby should be positioned tummy to tummy (skin on skin is always best.)
  • The baby should not have to extend or arch his/her back. The baby’s shoulders and hips should be aligned. 
  • The mother should make sure that her baby’s mouth is open wide before trying to latch him/her onto the breast. 
  • The baby’s lips should be turned out, not sucked into the mouth while feeding. 
  • The baby should take in some of the areolae as well, especially at the bottom lip. 
  • The mother can hold her breast for support and compress it to encourage her baby to latch on. 
  • The mother can tickle her baby’s lips with her nipple, to encourage him/her to open their mouth. 
  • If the baby has tongue problems, such as tongue tie. This can cause a weak suck
  • If the mother has inverted, flat nipples or any other nipple variation, it can cause breastfeeding problems. 
  • A nipple shield can be used as a last resort to try and shape the nipple, allowing the baby to latch on more easily. 
  • If the baby is not drinking enough during feedings, the mother can pump in-between feeding to increase milk supply. The mother can give the supplements of breast milk to her baby with an SNS (supplementary nursing system). This is a bottle containing pumped milk, that is attached to the breast with a little tube running into the side of the baby’s mouth, while he/she is breastfeeding. This will help the baby learn to breastfeed while being supplemented with the mother's milk/donated milk or formula. This gives the mother and her baby a way to learn how to breastfeed, even while supplementing. It also prevents the mother's milk supply from dropping. 

Preventing Newborn Latching Problems

  • Avoid unnecessary birth intervention such as elective C-sections, suctioning, medication or being separated from your baby.
  • Avoid giving your baby a pacifier or artificial nipple before 6 weeks of age. 
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Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)
Reference: Course information through childbirth international on the physiology of breastfeeding/breastfeeding problems/latching problems.

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