The number one aspect of breastfeeding is the latch. It ensures an effective milk transfer which results in a happy well-fed baby. It allows the mother to breastfeed in peace without any pain or issue. It ensures a successful breastfeeding relationship for both mother and baby. When the latch is not correct then the entire breastfeeding experience is thrown off track.
That being said, there are quite a few myths out there when it comes to breastfeeding and they often surround the latch. Below are some of the myths surrounding the latch in breastfeeding and what is the real truth.
Myth #1: Breastfeeding is supposed to be painful in the beginning, your nipples are building up callouses from the baby sucking on them.
Truth: Breastfeeding is never supposed to be painful ever! When breastfeeding is painful for the mother, it means the latch is off and needs to be corrected. Nipples do not build up callouses and if I ever saw a nipple that did I would actually be very concerned! Babies do not just suck on the nipple. When properly latched, the baby takes in the mother’s nipple and some of the areola. A baby simply sucking on the nipple alone will cause painful breastfeeding and inhibit an effective milk transfer.
Myth #2: Cracked and bleeding nipples are just a part of breastfeeding. They will eventually go away as the baby gets the hang of nursing. Just give it time and breathe through the pain.
Truth: Cracked and bleeding nipples are NEVER just par for the course with breastfeeding. They are a major sign that there is something wrong with the infant’s latch and it needs to be assessed and corrected immediately. No mother should have to bear through this because it is not supposed to be happening when the baby is latched properly. When the nipples are cracked and bleeding, the mother is at risk for developing an infection and needs to be seen by a lactation consultant or her primary doctor as soon as possible. These do not just go away on their own. Sometimes the baby is able to work out the latch on their own but in almost all cases some form of intervention is needed to fix it.
So, to all the breastfeeding or soon to be breastfeeding mothers out there, don’t wait to get a latch corrected. You do not need to suck it up and you are not less of a mother for seeking out lactation help! One seeks out their primary doctor when they are sick or a specialist for specific issues, so why not a lactation consultant for breastfeeding related concerns?
If you are experiencing the frustrations of low milk supply, schedule an appointment with Kerry, our Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant.