My Latch Looks Good, Right?

One of the most common and unhelpful things mothers are told by well-meaning nurses, doctors, and friends is that their baby’s latch “looks good” when the mother does not feel confident that nursing is going well. The way the latch looks to the outside observer is completely unimportant. In breastfeeding a full-term healthy infant, only two things matter:

Is everyone comfortable?
Is the baby getting milk?

If you said YES to both, then nurse on proud mama!

Unfortunately, many mothers go on experiencing pain in the nursing relationship because they are told breastfeeding hurts and the latch “looks good.” Pain is not normal. Pain is your body’s way of communicating that something is wrong.

Unfortunately, many babies who are not getting enough milk aren’t evaluated to understand why. The latch may “look good” from the outside, but be ineffective at drawing milk from the breast.

So what’s going on here?
The range of reasons why a “good looking latch” is painful and not effective at transferring milk is wide. Sometimes it’s size, shape, positioning, or maturity. Some babies are born with oral anomalies that make successful latch-on difficult or impossible. These oral anomalies are tiny things that require a skilled health care provider to detect like a tongue tie, lip tie, or bubble palate. These sorts of conditions can make deep latching and adequate milk transfer very difficult. Babies like this nurse frequently, often painfully, and have low diaper count and poor weight gain is any gain at all. Breastfeeding is not working, but it can be fixed.

When the baby doesn’t transfer milk well, the common answer is “low milk supply.” It’s common to assume the mother is not making enough milk rather than check the baby thoroughly. Most experts agree that lactation failure and low milk supply are very rare, but it’s cited as the reason for breastfeeding troubles time and time again. The health care provider says, “The latch looks good! There must not be any milk there.” Again, looking at the latch from the outside tells nothing.

So what does a mother do when breastfeeding hurts and babe isn’t getting milk?

Babies with “hidden” latch problems most often can breastfeed beautifully with a little help from a trained LC, ENT, pediatric dentist, or pediatrician. Mom and baby should work with one of these specialists to identify the cause of the latch-on problem. The specialist will feel inside the baby’s mouth and evaluate the anatomy and sucking. The specialist will do much more than just “look” at the latch. Until the cause can be determined, mom can work with an LC to create a temporary breast-milk feeding plan to feed the baby and protect mom’s long term milk supply. It’s important to remember that oral anomalies are fairly common and most babies can go on to breastfeed full term.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

 

“20years ago, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) launched its first World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) campaign with the theme: “Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative”. So much has happened in these 20 years, it is time to celebrate but also to look back, understand what has happened and why. Then plan what more can be done to support all women to be able to optimally feed and care for of their infants and young children.” — for more info visit worldbreastfeedingweek.org

You can find a Latch On event where your baby can be part of the many babies around the world who are simultaneously nursing. In the Atlanta Metro:

The Big Latch On in Catersville:

Saturday, August 4, 2012
9:30 am – 12:00 pm
(Big Latch On time begins at 10:30 am)
Location: LifeSong Montessori School
324 West Cherokee Avenue
Cartersville, GA 30120

The Big Latch On 2012-Gwinnett County Peer Counselors

Friday  03 August 2012 10:00 – 11:00

Motherhood Maternity @ Discover Mills @ 5900 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Lawrenceville, GA 30043, USA

 

Big Latch On 2012 Cobb County

 Friday 03 August 2012 10:00 – 11:00
Tramore Park @ 2150 East-West Connector, Austell, GA 30106, USA

The Big Latch On – Metro Atlanta

 Friday 03 August 2012 10:00
Henry Family and Sports Chiropractic Clinic @ 2290 Ben Hill Rd, Atlanta, GA 30311, USA

 

%d bloggers like this: