Zephy didn’t latch at all when the nurse facilitated “Unang Yakap” when she was delivered due to her difficulty of breathing that necessitated admission to the NICU. So when she did latch it felt magical! I was so ecstatic because finally after 9 months of waiting, I finally saw my baby face to face and she was getting her nourishment from me!
From then, I was positive and I was so adamant to feed her again. Since she had to stay in the NICU for 7 days and due to me being discharged already on the 3rd day, I had to go to the hospital every day for the remaining 4 days to see her. However, the next day, her latch wasn’t the same and it was so bad it left my nipple bleeding. It hurt a lot! The kind of toe-curling pain that makes you want to punch the wall and pull your hair out! It even hurt more than labor did for me! And so it hurt even more each time my baby feeds because my nipple was grazed, cracked, and had a raw wound!
Most of the people who knew of my suffering said that the pain, really, is part of the process and that I have to get used to it because eventually it will go away. I was not convinced. I was definite there was something wrong. I was so sure breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt like that, so I did my research.
A quick search online revealed that if done correctly, breastfeeding should not cause you any pain. There are actually a number of reasons why it hurts:
Babies should be latched on correctly and deeply into your nipple. Otherwise, if the nipple is not correctly positioned deep into baby’s mouth, it will be very painful for you.
Signs of a good latch include:
- baby’s mouth is wide open
- bottom lip turned out
- less bottom areola should be seen.
Signs of a bad/shallow latch
- clicking sound when baby feeds
- no swallowing sound
- milk leaks on the side of baby’s mouth
It is very important that baby is correctly latched on so that it wouldn’t hurt for you and so that your baby gets all the milk.
2. Nipple confusion
When your baby gets used to feeding using feeding bottles with artificial teats before breastfeeding has been established, your baby might confuse your nipple with the teats so that when your baby feeds, it results in shallow latch. Breastfeeding requires much more effort compared to feeding through a bottle. When baby feeds directly on your breast, she/he has to work to get your milk to ‘letdown’ whereas not much effort is needed with bottle feeding because gravity is on baby’s side. This leads to baby becoming lazy and ultimately results in a shallow latch.
3. Lip and Tongue Ties
The tongue and lips have a huge role in ensuring that your baby is able to empty the milk from your breast. When your baby feeds, the tongue works to “squeeze” the milk out. If the tongue does not move properly because it is “tied” to the floor of the mouth, then the resulting latch will be a shallow one. In order to ensure that breastfeeding is a success, have your pedia check your baby’s mouth as soon as possible. This will hopefully save you from the trouble and stress due to a baby who can’t feed.
4. Engorgement, Mastitis, and Clogged Ducts
Ever had tender boobs just before you have your menstruation? Imagine feeling the same five times over. That’s how having too full breasts feels like. It’s even worse when it’s coupled with clogged ducts. Obviously, the least you want to have is mastitis which is inflammation of boobs and milk ducts. These already feel painful on their own but the resulting incorrect latch from your baby could cause you even horrible pain. Make sure that your boobies are emptied by having baby latch on as needed.