Breastfeeding can be a joyous bonding experience for a mother and her child. Unfortunately, it can also be full of difficulties, which can cause some moms to give up entirely on nursing their babies. One common breastfeeding struggle mothers experience is a shallow latch.
Romperwrites that a shallow latch refers to when a baby isn’t opening his mouth widely enough to breastfeed without causing the mom to feel a lot of pain.
What is a shallow latch?
“Sometimes we call [shallow latch] ‘nipple-feeding’ because baby latches onto the nipple instead of taking in a ‘large mouthful of breast’,” Armi Anastacio-Baticados, a breastfeeding peer counselor from L.A.T.C.H. Los Baños, tells SmartParenting.com.ph.
According to a video from Global Health Media Project, in a shallow latch, the nipple lands under the hard roof of the baby’s mouth and gets pinched as the baby nurses, causing the mother to feel pain and even obtain injuries. A shallow latch also causes the baby to not get as much milk as he needs.
In comparison, when a baby is well-attached to the breast, the mother’s nipple is pointed to the roof of his mouth and he can suckle more effectively. Good attachment also helps trigger more milk from the breast so the baby can drink the amount of breast milk he needs.
There are a couple of factors that can cause some babies to struggle with latching deeply, starting with breastfeeding positions. Baticados says, “Moms need help getting into the proper breastfeeding position and should be supported so she could learn to carry her baby confidently. What we observe from our counselees is that most first time parents do not know how to hold a newborn — madalas takot na masaktan nila si baby kaya tensiyonado sa paghawak.”
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She also says that other factors that might cause a shallow latch include engorged breasts due to IV fluids during birth or too much milk, as well as the use of artificial nipples or pacifiers.
A shallow latch and the problems it causes, including poor milk supply and sore or injured nipples, can be part of the reasons why some moms give up breastfeeding early, studies in the journal Pediatrics report.
Aside from a shallow latch, other factors can also make breastfeeding a struggle, like low milk supply and mastitis. Click here to learn about these and what you can do to deal with them.