5 Reasons A Baby Can’t Properly Latch That'll Explain Your Breastfeeding Woes

by Olivia Youngs

Many moms intend on breastfeeding long before they give birth. It's a great goal to have but, unfortunately, most new moms aren't prepared for the inevitable bumps in the road they'll encounter along the way. Mastering the art of latching, for example, is hard to accomplish for some moms. Although it sounds small, latching is actually one of the most fundamental steps to effective and healthy breastfeeding. Luckily, there are a few common reasons a baby can't latching properly that can explain the root of your breastfeeding woes.

If you're dealing with a shallow latch, you're well aware of the issues it can cause for your own body and your baby's ability to breastfeed correctly. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a proper latch is the most important part of breastfeeding and, if not mastered, can cause engorgement, mastitis, under supply, and poor weight gain. Breastfeeding USA also explained that experiencing difficulty while breastfeeding increases a woman's likelihood of developing postpartum depression.

Fortunately for moms who suspect a shallow latch, the issue can be solved and breastfeeding can be the beautiful experience it is meant to be. Spotting the problem is the first step to correcting it, so if you're experiencing any of these situations that lead to poor latch, you're one step closer to correcting it and nursing pain-free.


Poor Positioning

Poor positioning is a leading cause of shallow latch. According to La Leche League International (LLLI) some nursing positions actually get in the way of a proper latch. If you're struggling to get your baby to latch on deeply, try the laid back technique or the football hold, as explained in Fit Pregnancy's video.


You Have Inverted Or Flat Nipples

According to the Dr. Sears website, mothers with inverted or flat nipples usually don't encounter issues with breastfeeding, but it can lead to difficulty with latch in some cases. The article suggested using the deep latch technique to ensure your baby has most of your areola in their mouth to help draw it out. This practice both "creates" a larger nipple for them to suck and ensures that they're feeding on enough of the breast to get the milk they need.


Your Breasts Are Engorged

Engorgement and getting a proper latch can seem like a vicious cycle, since poor latch often leads to your breasts being engorged, which makes it even harder for your baby to latch on. Nipping engorgement right in the bud is the best way to stave off poor latch and the pain it can cause as a side effect. Medela suggested feeding your baby as often as possible to decrease your chances of engorgement, as well as getting help from a lactation consultant if your baby's latch isn't deep enough to decrease the pressure.


They Have Tongue Or Lip Tie

Another LLLI article noted that the tongue is a major player in mastering a proper latch. Although tongue tie isn't common, babies who have the condition often have a more difficult time latching on to nurse. Luckily, the article also stated that even babies with severe tongue tie are usually able to learn to nurse effectively with the help of a lactation consultant without undergoing invasive treatment.


Your Baby Was Premature

If your baby was born prematurely, your breastmilk is even more essential for their growth and maturation. But according to Baby Center, many preemies have a difficult time latching on the breast even after they've come home. Enlisting the help of a lactation consultant is a great way to tackle the issue before it worsens.