Your baby puts in as much work as you do when breastfeeding. While you provide breast milk to your child, your baby must have a proper latch to get all the nutrients.
But babies don’t automatically know how to get breast milk when they come out of the womb. Breastfeeding takes plenty of trial and error to get right.
Having a shallow latch means your baby is not getting enough milk. Plus, it also means sore and painful nipples for you.
What is the Ideal Breastfeeding Latch?
When breastfeeding, babies need to latch onto the nipple and the areola. Your infant must compress the areola and milk sinuses to start the flow. Otherwise, you won’t produce more breast milk.
A good latch, first and foremost, is comfortable and pain-free. Other signs of a good latch include your baby’s head positioned straight at you and not to the side, your baby’s chin touching your breast, and you can hear and see swallowing.
How to Spot a Shallow Latch
There are many ways to spot a shallow latch. As mentioned above, a good latch shouldn’t cause pain to mothers. If you’re experiencing discomfort while nursing, then it might be a sign of a shallow latch. You might also notice cracking and bleeding from your nipples. (Try using nipple cream to heal the cracks and provent bleading)
Your nipple might also appear pinched after breastfeeding. A poor latch means your baby isn’t getting enough milk, so they might pinch your nipple to get more. Your infant might also act a bit fussy and hungry since they didn’t get enough milk.
Finally, you might notice your milk production depleting when your baby has a poor latch. Since your breast isn’t releasing all its milk, it signals your brain and hormones to stop making more future supplies.
5 Tips on How to Fix Shallow Latch
Correcting a shallow latch means less pain for you and more milk for your baby. Here are 5 tips on how you can help your baby latch better:
1 Change your Breastfeeding Position
There are a variety of nursing positions to try out. Changing how you nurse can also help reduce pain and discomfort in your breast. Some positions you can try include the cradle hold, football, and crossover. Remember to always support your infant’s head and body while holding them. Use a nursing pillow to gain better positioning.
2 Promote Skin-to-skin Contact with Your Baby
Physical contact has plenty of emotional benefits. Bring yourself closer to your child. Physical touches increase the bond between mothers and babies and may help in milk production.
3 Make Sure Your Baby’s Mouth is Wide Open
A deep latch includes your nipple and areola, so you want your baby to have a wide-open mouth. To encourage them to open their mouth, press your nipple to your child’s lips.
4 Listen Closely to Your Baby
You can hear some hints that your baby is getting adequate milk. A baby with a deep latch will drink slowly and deeply with some pauses. Meanwhile, a clicking sound means their latch is shallow.
5 If the Latch is Shallow, Try and Try Again!
Sometimes, your baby just doesn’t get breastfeeding the first time around. But don’t panic! If breastfeeding is causing pain or your infant is making a clicking noise, just unlatch and try again.
Why is my baby not latching properly?
The most common reason for a poor latch includes uncomfortable positioning, an empty breast, and misshapen nipples.
Can I fix a shallow latch at home?
You can improve your baby’s latch at home by trying out different nursing positions, promoting skin-on-skin contact, and guiding their mouth towards your nipples.
What are the downsides of a shallow latch?
A shallow latch can make breastfeeding more painful for the mother and harder for the infant to get daily nutrients.
Nobody gets things right during their first time, including babies. While babies have an instinct to find their mother’s breast to nurse, they don’t necessarily know how to latch on properly right away. And a poor latch usually ends in a lot of aching and not a lot of breast milk.
A shallow latch is an uncomfortable but fixable problem. You, as a mother, can help your baby by bringing yourself closer and guiding them to your breast. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work.