The Trouble With That Latch

After laboring for 26 hours and pushing for another 3 hours, the doctor puts baby to your chest and she starts to nurse.

Or not.

We as a society seem to think that breastfeeding is this thing that every mother can do, but some just choose not to.

That’s not entirely true. Some moms intend to breastfeed but for varied reasons, they are not able to. A big one is the latch.


Getting baby to latch correctly is no small feat. There could be any number of impediments to a good latch. Here are just 4 of them.

  1. Tongue-tie. If the membrane called the frenulum that attaches from the underside of the tongue to baby’s mouth is too tight, it can restrict movement for suckling. A lactation consultant or doctor can easily diagnose this problem and the solution is relatively simple. Baby will need to have the tongue-tie snipped.
  1. Inverted nipples. If mom has inverted nipples that do not reverse themselves during pregnancy, all is not lost. There are things she can do to enable breastfeeding. First of all, ask a lactation consultant for help. The LC will be able to provide various devices to try, like nipple shields, which can help the nipple come out and/or make latching easier.
  1. An epidural. If you had an epidural, baby might feel the effects of the labor meds much longer than you. This can sometimes result in her inability to latch effectively. A study published in the Journal of American Board of Family Practice found that administering an epidural during labor had a negative impact on breastfeeding in the first 24 hours of baby’s life. But fear not, a lactation consultant can help mom and baby get the hang of breastfeeding.
  1. Outside pressure. If your mom and sisters (in law) and friends have all breastfed and you put baby to your breast but he doesn’t latch, human nature will likely cause you to feel inadequate. Perhaps even like a failure. Try to shut out the noise around. And then there’s the modesty part. You were probably a modest person when you came in to deliver your baby. Even though you’ve been poked and prodded while wearing a barely there hospital gown, the idea of having your breasts touched by someone you’ve just met (not the baby) may terrify you. It may make you uncomfortable when an “expert” walks in to show you how to breastfeed. Why are they touching my breasts? You might wonder, cringing. That fear will also make breastfeeding baby tough. Once you relax though and realize that the LC can truly help you, you and baby will become nursing pros.


The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant. 

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