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.
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 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.
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.
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.