Hard Time Latching On

Hard Time Latching OnDear Aunty Tina, My baby is having a hard time latching on and breastfeeding. What can I do?

Was your baby born a few weeks early? From my experience when babies are born at 37-38 weeks the pads inside their cheeks haven’t fully developed, so their mouths don’t create the same suction, making suckling more difficult. I often see in this case that three weeks is a strong period of adjustment but after this time things should get much better.

This can be very trying so make sure that you’re as calm as can be, your baby can feel your frustration. It’s important to be belly to belly, making sure baby’s neck isn’t bent uncomfortably. Tickle his/her lips until they open wide and bring to the breast. Check to see that the lips are folded outward, ensuring a good latch. If not start over, especially if you hear lots of air being swallowed. I also see difficulties arise when the breast milk is first coming in and the breasts are engorged and hard. Here the best thing to do is express some milk to relieve the pressure and soften the breast so it is easier for your baby to create a latch. Be careful not to express too much as your body takes that as a sign to produce more milk for baby. Talking with a lactation consultant always helps, especially if you have inverted nipples. Persevere, it will get better, but keep an eye on your baby’s weight. If they are losing more than 10% of their body weight you may have to supplement.

I like the story about how the Midwest dairy farmers give the new mother cows a foam mattress to sleep on as the farmers realized a well-rested mother produced more milk. I believe this to be the same for humans and a good healthy milk supply will help encourage successful breastfeeding. Try and rest as much as you can. You can also take herbs and roots, such as fenugreek, maca or liquorice root. Eating alfalfa, fennel, oats, hops or brewers yeast also can help increase milk production. I breast fed for 23 years with nine kids, often during pregnancy, tandem breastfeeding, and wet nursing. It is a wonderful opportunity you are giving to your baby and will get easier with time.

Also try and rest as much as you can. You can take herbs and roots, such as fenugreek, maca or liquorice root. Eating alfalfa, fennel, oats, hops or brewers yeast can help increase milk production. I breast fed for 23 years with nine kids, often during pregnancy, tandem breastfeeding, and wet nursing. It is a wonderful opportunity you are giving to your baby and will get easier with time.

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Tina Garzero CPM, LMT. practiced midwifery for 40 years and lived on Maui for over 35 Years. She was the mother to 9 children and lived in Haiku. She is the heart of the Mauimama and will be sorely missed. (Tina Garzero 1951-2015). We love you Tina. This website is dedicated to Tina's life and service on Maui.