Like many aspects of pregnancy and motherhood, there are a lot of myths out there that can cause you to be nervous of a potential outcome or even put you and your baby through unnecessary issues. Fiction surrounding breastfeeding is especially problematic, like the breastfeeding latch myths you might have heard from well-meaning family members and friends. Your baby's latch is important and believing the myths could lead to you giving up breastfeeding because of pain, inadequate milk supply, or a fussy baby.
But knowledge is power, and you need as much of it as possible when it comes to breastfeeding. It's easy to get caught up in the word "natural." Breastfeeding is natural, sure, but that doesn't mean that it comes naturally to you. Many moms struggle with nursing their child and hearing these seven breastfeeding latch myths along with the idea that it should just happen without any help or intervention can lead to cracked, sore nipples, a hungry baby, and a dwindling milk supply.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the most important part of successful breastfeeding is your baby's latch. With the proper technique, you can make sure your breastfeeding journey benefits both you and your baby without falling into the trap these seven myths provide.
Myth #1: Your Baby Just Needs To Latch On Your Nipple
It makes sense that the nipple is the only part your baby needs to get breast milk, but that's not true. According to Medela, your baby should have a deep mouthful of breast with their lower lip covering the base of your areola and a little bit of the areola tissue showing above their upper lip. The American Pregnancy Association that not only does this help with cracked or sore nipples, but it also ensures your baby is getting enough milk.
Myth #2: Latching Always Hurts
Although it's normal to have some pain when you're first starting to breastfeed, Baby Center noted that persistent pain during your baby's latch is not normal. It can mean your baby isn't getting a deep enough latch, that they aren't close enough to your body, therefore pulling your nipple, and it can lead to cracked and bleeding nipples. If you are experiencing pain every time your baby latches, you should reach out to a lactation consultant for help.
Myth #3: An Imperfect Latch Is OK
Your baby seems to be getting enough milk and no one seems to be complaining, so dealing with a little bit of pain or an awkward, improper latch is OK, right? Not so much. Parenting noted that an improper latch is the most common breastfeeding obstacle and it can cause your baby to not get as much milk as they possibly could and lead to a lot of pain for you.
Myth #4: If A Latch Looks Fine, Then It's OK
Again, an improper latch won't work long-term. According to KellyMom, even if your latch looks fine, experiencing any pain or milk transfer problems means your latch is not OK. Your latch should be comfortable and effective, meaning your baby is able to remove as much milk as possible from your breasts. If those two points aren't meant, then it doesn't matter how great your baby's latch works, it isn't working.
Myth #5: Position Doesn't Affect Your Latch
Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the perfect breastfeeding position, your position can affect your latch. The American Pregnancy Association noted that a good position is crucial to a good latch — your baby should be tummy to tummy with you and they should be nose to breast so that you don't have to lean forward and so your nipple isn't stretched out and in pain. Your baby's ear, shoulder, and hip should also be in alignment to help with swallowing.
Myth #6: Most Babies Have Latch Issues
An improper latch can be an obstacle for many breastfeeding moms, but most babies don't have issues. Parents noted that babies are designed to breastfeed, so they are born with instincts that help them latch on to your breast without much help. The quicker you breastfeed your baby after they are born, the easier it will be for them to latch.
Myth #7: Proper Latch Doesn't Affect Milk Supply
Some moms think they're suffering from low milk supply when really, the problem is their baby's latch. KellyMom suggested that issues like a tongue or lip tie or other latch problems can prevent your baby from adequately removing milk from your breast, messing up your body's supply and demand and leaving your milk supply low.