How to Fix a Shallow Latch When Breastfeeding

This blog post is about how to fix a shallow latch when breastfeeding. It can be difficult for new mothers to figure out what they are doing wrong, but this post will give you some tips and tricks on how to make the adjustments needed in order for your baby to take more of your breast into their mouth. With these steps, you should be able to find relief from breastfeeding pain!

Signs & Symptoms Of A Shallow Latch

Signs that your baby has a shallow latch include:

  • Compressed nipple after breastfeeding
  • Clicking sound while your baby is breastfeeding
  • Pain while breastfeeding
  • The nipple is sore and cracked

If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, it is important to seek help from a lactation consultant or your pediatrician. They will be able to help you correct the latch and make breastfeeding more comfortable for both you and your baby.


Importance of a proper latch

It’s important to have a proper latch because it can have a significant impact on your breast milk supply. If you have an improper latch, it can lead to low milk supply which may cause your baby not to get enough nutrients. If this happens, then your child will start acting fussy and irritable because they are hungry for more food intake.

Having an improper latch can also lead to milk blisters, chapped nipples, and clogged milk ducts. It’s also important for a lactation consultant check if you have a shallow latch because there are certain complications that can arise from it. A low milk supply, mastitis, and plugged ducts may all be caused by an improper latch.

As long as you know how to get yourself back on track with breastfeeding, then these problems should not come into play at all.

Can a Nipple shield help with a small latch?

A nipple shield can temporarily help with a shallow latch. It can help you get your child to latch on correctly and take in more milk.

However, they are not meant to be used for the long-term if possible because it will cause everything that comes with a shallow latch (i.e., low milk supply, blisters). A nipple shield may also make breastfeeding harder when you remove them because your baby will have to relearn how to latch on correctly.

However, it can be a great tool in the beginning. There are some great options made by Medela.


Ways to fix a shallow latch

Think of your breast like a big sandwich

Holding your breast like a sandwich will help compress your breast to get more into your baby’s mouth and prevent a shallow latch.

When you are breastfeeding, put your thumb on the top of your breast and your four fingers underneath. This will help push more milk out and help your baby latch on correctly.


Nipple to nose

Brush your nipple onto your baby’s nose to get your baby to open their mouth wide enough.

You can even hand express some breast milk out beforehand so that your baby can smell the milk and they will know it is feeding time.


Wait for your baby to open wide

It’s important to wait for your baby to open its mouth wide. Let them take the lead so they are ready to start the feeding session.

If your baby is not opening their mouth wide, you can encourage them by tickling or stroking their cheek and lips before feeding time starts.


Try laid-back breastfeeding

Sometimes it’s as simple as changing breastfeeding positions to get a better latch. Try laying down on your back with a pillow under you so that gravity can help get the breast more into your baby’s mouth.

Laid-back or side-lying breastfeeding is also great because it allows for eye contact between mom and child, which helps create even more of an emotional bond while breastfeeding!Shallow latch laid back breastfeeding

Side-lying is a great position to help your baby get a good latch. The baby’s natural ability to seek and discover the nipple, as well as latch themselves by opening wide and extending the head, is enhanced when placed in this position.


Change breasts when needed

If one side seems to be a little more productive than the other, then you can switch to that side when needed.

If your baby is not very interested in one breast, just let them take their time and latch onto it as best they can before moving on to the next one!


Tilt your baby’s head back

Having your baby’s head tilted back before they latch on will allow them to open their mouth more to fit more of the areola into their mouth and get a deeper latch.

If you are having trouble getting your baby to open their mouth wide, try tilting their head back just a little bit by holding them in a football hold and having your index finger and thumb on the back of their head behind the ear. This will give them enough support as you tilt their head back before they latch on.


Flare out your baby’s lips

You will want to check if the upper lip and the lower lip are flared out, almost like a fish. This will help them from nursing on just the nipple and prevent a shallow latch.

If you are having a lot of nipple pain after you are it could be just from the lips not being flared out and be the cause of painful breastfeeding.


Skin to skin

While nursing your baby, it’s important to hold your baby close to get a deep latch. Make sure your baby’s chin is touching the breast tissue and not being pulled away.


If the latch is shallow, unlatch, then try again

There are many different ways that you can help fix a shallow latch when breastfeeding. You don’t have to feel discouraged if this is something that you are currently struggling with. With some patience and determination, you will be on your way to having a successful breastfeeding journey!

If you are still struggling after trying all of these techniques, be sure to speak with a lactation consultant. They will be able to help you and your baby get back on track and have a healthy breastfeeding relationship.


Use a Breastfeeding Pillow

Using a breastfeeding pillow will give your more support when you breastfeed. It’s important to bring your baby to your breast instead of hunching over and bringing yourself to your baby. This will help you maintain a deep latch and prevent a shallow breastfeeding latch.

There are many different types of breastfeeding pillows on the market, so be sure to do your research and find the one that is best for you and your baby.

I used this one for my babies. It was great and I loved that it was gender-neutral so it worked with all of the kids.

I also love the My Breast Friend since it holds your water for you. It also buckles in the back so you can walk around if you have multiple kids that you need to chase after.

Best Bottles For a Shallow Latch

If you are trying to breastfeed and bottle feed, it’s important to use a bottle that won’t sabotage their latch.

A traditional bottle nipple does not match the shape of a nipple and can allow your baby to get lazy when they latch on.

My favorite bottle is the Comotomo baby bottles. They have a wide base and mimic mom’s breast. I owned them for my babies and loved them. They held up for the time and they were very easy to clean.

Correcting a shallow latch will take some time

It can take some time to correct a shallow latch. You are both learning this new skill so it will take some practice and some patience.

Just remember to take it day by day and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. With a little bit of effort on both your parts, you will be able to fix a shallow latch in no time!


Final Thoughts

Lots of new moms deal with breastfeeding struggles, but it’s important to keep trying. It may take time and practice to get a deep latch, but the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh any difficulties you might face along the way. If a shallow latch is preventing your baby from getting enough milk and not gaining weight appropriately, or if they are having trouble latching correctly at all, there are many ways to fix this problem with some patience and determination. Reach out to some lactation consultants for lactation support. Remember that correcting a shallow latch when your nursing baby will take some time so don’t get discouraged as you work through these challenges together!

Be sure to read Pumping with Elastic Nipples and Foremilk vs Hindmilk in Breast Milk

About the author

Lacy Reason is a highly experienced and compassionate lactation counselor, who has dedicated her career to educating and supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.

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