Breastfeeding benefits both mother and child in many ways. Experts agree that breast milk is the safest and healthiest food you can give your baby since it provides all the nutrients a baby will need during their first month on Earth. Moms and their kids also benefit from the skin-to-skin contact that occurs while nursing.
But while breastfeeding seems like something that moms can instinctively do, many mothers can run into issues that require trial and error. Besides, mothers are not the only ones doing all the work. Babies also play a significant role while breastfeeding.
A good latch is a sign that your baby is getting nutrients. Breastfeeding should not be painful, and you should see your baby swallowing milk while nursing them. You should also notice that your baby no longer shows hunger cues after feeding.
Your baby latching and unlatching while breastfeeding is worrying (and painful!) Fortunately, there are solutions on how you can help improve your baby’s latch. Here are some reasons why your baby latches and unlatches and how you can remedy these issues.
Why is My Baby Latching and Unlatching Repeatedly
A baby latching and unlatching is a common issue many moms face. There are also many factors to consider why this happens. The good news is that most of these problems have simple and quick solutions.
Your Letdown is Either Too Fast or Too Slow
Many moms agree that they cannot control when or where they produce breast milk. Instead, moms experience a letdown reflex, an automatic response while breastfeeding. Letdown occurs when your baby latches and triggers crucial hormones. These hormones, prolactin and oxytocin, will cause the breast to release milk and trigger letdown.
Signs of letdown vary from mom to mom, but most feel a tingling sensation in the breast and milk leaking from the nipple. You might experience leakage even while you are not breastfeeding.
A fast or slow letdown can affect your breastfeeding session. A rapid flow of milk can overwhelm your baby. Meanwhile, a slow reflex can frustrate your baby and leave them hungry after nursing.
Your Baby is Teething
Babies grew their teeth at different rates. On average, babies start teething at 6 months, but some might experience growth as early as birth or as late as 12 months.
Teething can somethings occur with no discomfort. But for many babies, teething can leave their mouth feeling sore and aching. They experience gums soreness, rashes, dribbling, and temperature changes.
Teething can dampen your baby’s mood and make it more difficult for them to breastfeed. Their mouths can get too sensitive, so they cannot latch properly.
Your Baby is Gassy
Air can sometimes get trapped in your baby while nursing. Excess gas can make your baby uncomfortable, especially since their digestive system has not yet fully developed. Excess air might mean they need to fart or burp.
Something is Distracting Your Baby
Have you ever experienced losing focus on something and forgetting what you were doing in the first place? Infants can experience distractions just like we do.
You might have seen your baby lose interest in breastfeeding because they heard something on the TV or saw family members passing by. Distraction can cause your baby to put aside nursing and focus on their environment instead.
Your Milk Supply is Low
Some mothers experience true low breast milk supply, a rare phenomenon caused by an underlying health issue. Causes include weight issues, breast cancer, medication, and conditions like hypothyroidism.
Babies experience frustration while breastfeeding when they are in low supply. They might latch and unlatch to get more breast milk.
Your Baby is Sick
Nobody likes to have the sniffles, including your baby. A stuffy nose can lead to problems in feeding since your baby will have difficulties breathing through their nose. Nasal congestion might cause them to latch poorly or unlatch while nursing.
How Do I Help My Baby Latch Properly?
Many of the causes listed above have solutions you can easily do at home.
You can change your breastfeeding position to help support your baby and alter your milk supply speed. For mothers with a fast letdown, pumping before nursing can also push out the foremilk and provide your baby with nutrient-dense hindmilk.
Teething usually goes away in a few days. But you can consult your doctor if you can apply Tylenol or other painkillers if the discomfort is too much.
Likewise, if your baby is feeling gassy, stop breastfeeding and help them get rid of the excess air. You can try out different positions to help your baby burp. The traditional burping method is over your shoulder, but you can also burp them on your lap.
If your baby is distracted by something or someone, move to a different and more quiet room. Turn off distractions like TVs, game consoles, or phones.
Finally, if you or your baby are experiencing medical issues that affect breastfeeding, consult your doctor on what can be done. Early intervention can help prevent further problems in the future for you and your child.
How do I know if my baby’s latch is correct?
A correct latch should not be painful or uncomfortable. Your child should be touching your breast, and you can see them gulping while nursing.
Does my breastfeeding position affect my baby’s latch?
Your breastfeeding position can impact how your baby latches onto you. Some positions might push more milk out, while others do not.
Breastfeeding can call for trial and error for both mom and child. Babies can experience problems trying to latch onto their mothers.
Common issues that cause repeated latching and unlatching include fast or slow letdown, teething, or stuffy nose. Whatever the reason might be, there is always a solution to it.
Whether you have been breastfeeding for years or have just started, there is no denying how nutritious and helpful breast milk is. So do not be disheartened if you do not get your baby to latch immediately. Sometimes, a tiny adjustment can go a long way.