Common Latching Problems Faced By Women During Breastfeeding

Mother’s often face latching problems during breastfeeding; here are some common conditions which can affect latching.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Aug 11, 2021Updated at: Aug 11, 2021
Common Latching Problems Faced By Women During Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the first nutrition a baby gets from his mother. Breast milk is very important for the baby for good health and proper nutrition demands of the body. A breastfeeding latch is a term that is used while breastfeeding, it reflects how the infant is attached to his mother’s breast at the time of breastfeeding. Proper latching of baby to his mother’s breast can help the baby to get consistent milk from the mother. However is some cases mother’s face problems latching their baby to their breast. It is quite common and can happen to anyone, there can be many factors which can be responsible for an unsuccessful latch. Today, with help of our gynaecologist Ms. Bindiya Khera from Fatima Hospital, Lucknow, we will know about factors that result to poor latching.

What is a Proper Breastfeeding Latch?

Ms. Bindiya Khera says that proper breastfeeding latch is when the baby gets attached to your breast in a good position for breastfeeding. In this condition, it should have your entire nipple and little than an inch of areola in his mouth. Position of his tongue and lips should also be turned against your breast. If proper breastfeeding latch is established, then the baby is able to swallow the milk properly and does not cry in between. Whereas a poor latch can result to pain or having difficulty in breastfeeding. This will indirectly affect the baby and can lead towards slow weight gain or weight loses which is not good for infants.


Conditions and Problems Leading To Poor Breastfeeding Latch

Most of the problems that result to poor latching of baby to mother’s breast are because of 3 major conditions. Either baby is having some general issues, problems related to breast or prematurity. Sometimes there could be multiple reasons which can result to latching problems.

Issues Related to Baby

1. Your Baby is Fussy

Sometimes poor latching can occur when the baby is constantly crying or fussy about things. When a baby is too fussy, he may not latch properly to mother’s breast which results in poor latching. It can be due to reasons such as hunger, tiredness, and overstimulation. In this case, you need to understand the cause and calm the baby first before breastfeeding. Try changing position of deviating his mind.

2. Sleepiness

Infants and new born babies need long sleeping breaks and in initial days, they spend most of their time sleeping. If their sleeping needs are not fulfilled, then it can result to breastfeeding problems. It is quite common and can be handled by knowing their sleep schedules and accordingly trying to have breastfeeding latch. You can wake them up after every 2-3 hours and then breastfeed them, it works in most conditions.


Problems Related to Breast and Nipples

1. Having large nipples

If you have large nipples, it can make it difficult for the baby to latch properly. Sometimes even an average sized nipple can be big for the premature infant or newborn baby. This is very common condition that is faced by women. It does not have any cure, but you need to be extra careful while latching the baby. They need to take the entire nipple plus areola in this state too; hence you may use a nipple shield. Nipple shield helps in fitting the mouth of the baby to the shield because of which he is able to latch properly.

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2. Severe Breast Engorgement

Breast engorgement is a quite common condition in initial days of breastfeeding. In this condition, the breast milk increases and your breast can get swollen and turn hard. This can cause pain in your breast and you may have difficulty in breastfeeding. Breast engorgement occurs because of transitional stage when the colostrums is turning into mature breast milk. All this creates problems in latching baby to mother’s breast. You can soften up your skin around the nipples and areola pumping a little breast milk before you latch your baby to breastfeed. This makes it easier for the baby to latch in this condition.


3. Flat or Inverted Nipples

This problem may or may not affect the latching and breastfeeding for the baby. This is because inspite of inverted or flat nipples, some babies are able to latch to their mother’s breast properly whereas some infants are unable to do so. If your baby is unable to latch because nipples do not stick out of your breast, then you can try pumping for a minute before breastfeeding. Other than that you can try nipple shield with guidance from your doctor.  


A premature baby has a smaller mouth comparatively and thus it makes it harder for him to latch. Also premature infants have lower energy to such and draw milk from their mother’s breast. Hence the latching process is much more difficult for them than normal babies. They get tired soon and are unable to get enough breast milk. In most cases doctors recommend nipple shield to the mother so that premature baby is able to latch on more efficiently. 

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Breastfeeding latch is important for proper breastfeeding and nutrition of the baby. Poor latching can result to delayed growth, weight loss etc. Latching problems are common among women because of different conditions which make it difficult to breastfeeding latch. Some of these issues are related to baby whereas others are related to some conditions occurred in women. Breast engorgement and flat nipples are most common among them. Prematurity can be a big factor that can affect latching. In these conditions, according to the problem, the mother needs to pump some milk before breastfeeding or apply nipple shield for proper breastfeeding.

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