Shallow latch woes

After weeks and weeks of painful breastfeeding and dealing with a shallow latch, a lactation consultant helped me figure out that LO is pulling herself off to get a shallow latch! She is almost 6 weeks. Now I have to retrain her to take and hold a deeper latch. I'm not feeling very hopeful. She cries and struggles if I try to keep her from moving back. 

I have a pretty strong let down and firmer tissue behind my nipples/areola. I'm wondering now if the stronger let down has been causing her to want a shallow latch. 

Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice on how to manage a strong let down and how to teach a baby how to take a deeper latch? I'm so sore and disheartened by the whole breastfeeding experience. I don't enjoy it and I really want to.  

Re: Shallow latch woes

  • My DS has always had a pretty shallow latch and I had the same problem where I had a strong let down and he would back off.  I honestly don't have advice because I had a lot of difficulty trying to correct it.  I just wanted you to know, however, that as your LO grows, her mouth will grow and the latch should slowly get better on its own.  Even just a couple of weeks can make a big difference. 

    I had to use a nipple shield because the pain was so bad, but then around 8 or 9 weeks, his mouth got bigger and his latch became almost pain free.  As he grew more, it became completely pain free. I just had to wait it out.  Also, don't be afraid to keep in touch with your LC and keep asking for advice, even if it's always the same questions, lol.  My LC kept reassuring me that his mouth and latch would change and it helped me stay sane.

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  • pnutgpnutg
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    I'm sorry youre going through this. Im only on day 8 but have been in a lot of pain the entire time. I met with an LC and found his latch is good but my pain may be related to scar tissue. A nipple shield helps me a little but may really help you.
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  • latching isn't something you train infants are born with that instinct look up infant led bfing
  • AmyG*AmyG*
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers

    with an overactive letdown baby may slide off a deep latch toward the end of the nipple then they can clamp down and slow the flow to keep from drowning.

    So you come at this problem from a couple of different directions.

     trying to lower supply a bit so the spray will be less at let down,

    teaching a deeper latch,

    reinforcing that with nursing in a position so that gravity doesn't speed the flow even more,

    in addition you may need to unlatch when you feel let down and have the spray go into a towel or bottle and then relatching once the spray is not so hard for baby to handle.

    Lowering supply a bit means you'd nurse primarily on one side per feeding.  making sure baby fully finishes side #1 as their main meal.  They may not even need side #2 except occassionally as dessert or during a growth spurt.  Start by leaving baby on side #1 longer and longer, use breast compressions and massage to keep them interested longer, burp and reoffer side #1.  Then start the next feeding on side #2.  do not pump as you want your body to get the message to lower supply to meet baby's needs not exceed them.

    You may find that you already do that mostly and you need to lower supply even more with a short time of block nursing 2 feedings on one side and then 2 feedings on the other side.

    Latching, well if latching were as natural and instinctive as the prior poster claimed, there would be little need for lactation consultants and there would not be so many posts on the breastfeeding board.  lol

    Babies can and do learn how to latch better.  their mouths grow and they usually get better just from that.  They have an instinct to latch and to nurse nurse nurse for their survial but they aren't born knowing exactly how wide to open or how to hold their tongue.  Google latching videos certainly--lots of moms can correct latch by seeing what someone else does and copying it.

    Try to squish boob flat with fingers underneath and thumb on top, hold nipple higher, closer to baby's nose than mouth.  When baby opens up, they should reach upward, the top of the head goes backward (so hold closer to the neck/base of skull so head can move), so they can open wider.  squish boob, stuff it in, touching the bottom lip first and closer to the areola.  If you hold nipple low in line with lips, baby reaches out and downward and their chin runs into their chest and they can't open as wide and will have a shallow latch.

    also try laid back nursing, with baby up on top of you, where gravity will pull them deeper onto the breast, as well as gravity working to slow the flow of the milk. 

    or a football hold with baby's head up higher than the breast a bit, so gravity doesn't speed the flow of milk ad you can really see how baby is latching. 

    some have good luck with side lying to slow flow, but may have difficulty with a deep latch or milk still spraying everywhere.


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  • Do your nipples also come out lipstick shaped or creased?  I have a baby with a shallow latch, too, and my nipples are always creased/lipstick shaped. It is so irritating. We tried a nipple shiels earlier and I'm considering trying one again. We are actually having dd evaluated for a posterior tongue tie but not for another two weeks. It feels like forever away!  Ugh. Anyway, my dd will strongarm me to get a shallow latch even though I've been working so hard to get a deeper latch. So, I can relate.

    Good luck to you! 

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