Breastfeeding and cocaine use
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Sally Tedstone
Breastfeeding Expert Midwife and Breastfeeding Educator with UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative
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What do I do if my baby isn’t properly attached when breastfeeding?

If your baby’s attachment to the breast, isn’t right, it can be uncomfortable or even painful to breastfeed. Don't battle on if things are hurting. With expert help, it's possible to correct things quickly, which will make breastfeeding much more comfortable and rewarding for you both.
In Short

Signs that your baby isn't latched on properly include:

Sore or pinched nipples - very long feeds during which your baby falls asleep but wakes again distressed.

A 'clicking' sound due to poor suction - this is because your baby is tired from constant feeding or the baby isn’t latched on properly to start with.

Cracked or bleeding nipples, white or pale nipples due to compression and friction.

What to do when your baby’s attachment isn’t quite right

If this is the case, it’s often uncomfortable or even painful for you to breastfeed. This is because your nipple is getting pinched, probably because it’s not in the correct part of your baby’s mouth. You may notice your nipple comes out of baby’s mouth looking squashed or flattened, with a white line across it or tapered like an old lipstick. If feeding is going well, your nipple may come out looking a bit longer than usual but the end should be round as normal.

Usually, what’s happened is the nipple hasn’t gone far enough back into the soft part of your baby’s mouth, so it rubs on the harder front part every time she sucks or it rubs on the back of baby’s tongue.

If your baby attempts to feed while in this incorrect position, you’ll feel pain and when your baby comes off the breast your nipple will look misshapen. It won’t be long before your nipple gets really sore, and it may even crack or bleed. If your baby’s not attached properly, he might not be getting enough milk and feeds might be longer and more tiring.

Poor attachment can make your baby unhappy, hungry and restless.

If your baby’s not attached properly, it may affect your milk supply over time.

If milk isn’t being removed effectively, you may end up getting and you may even develop blocked ducts or mastitis.

If your breasts aren’t being emptied of milk sufficiently, the next feedback signal your body will send will be to ‘stop making milk’. This means your milk supply will decrease.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s time to ask for help – lots of new mums struggle with this, so don’t feel as though you’re on your own. The video here will help, and is a great place to start – and don’t forget you can ask for breastfeeding support at your local breastfeeding group.

What are the main signs of ineffective attachment in you?

  • Sore nipples resulting in painful feeds.
  • Full or engorged breasts which are not softened by feeding.
  • Decreasing supply of milk.
  • Cracked or bleeding nipples.
  • Suction may feel stronger because your baby is having to suck hard to remain attached.
What are the main signs of ineffective attachment in your baby?
  • Your baby seeming to become tired or frustrated during feeds.
  • Your baby’s pooing pattern may reduce (less than 2 in 24 hours)
  • Your baby’s skin may appear yellow because of jaundice
  • Your baby still seeming hungry and unsettled even after a feed.
  • Very long feeds.
  • You may hear a clicking sound during the feed
Getting your baby off your breast without it hurting

If your breast is already sore, just the idea of removing a baby intent on further feeding can be eye-watering. There is an easy way, however: simply insert your little finger very gently into your baby’s mouth while he’s still attached to your breast. You might need to wiggle your finger in until you touch his tongue. His mouth will open, breaking the latch. When this happens, you can gently ease him off your breast without him pulling hard on your nipple.

Common breastfeeding problems

Ineffective attachment is usually the reason behind the common breastfeeding problems. In the video below, Sally Tedstone explains how you and tell this is happening, and how you can try to sort it out.

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.