Help! My baby roots but won’t latch! (Top 5 Tips For Nursing Moms)
Mothers struggling to successfully latch their baby can feel like that is all they do. It’s frustrating, time-consuming, and, for some moms, even painful. It can be especially tough for first-time moms, moms of preemies, or babies with a medical condition that impacts their ability to latch correctly. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health, 70% of mothers who exclusively nurse say they experience pain. What’s more, research shows that mothers who struggle with latching often give up sooner than they should. That’s why it’s so important to know how to overcome these challenges fast!
Why does my baby acts hungry but won’t latch?
The frustration of having a baby who won’t latch can be overwhelming. But before you decide breastfeeding is not for you, try to approach the situation with an open mind. A baby who is hungry but has a weak suck might be unable to draw your nipple far enough back into their mouth to latch. This can also happen if you have a large areola (the dark area around your nipple), making it more challenging to get your baby to latch. In addition, premature or low-birth-weight babies may have difficulty latching because their mouths are smaller.
Does rooting always mean a baby is hungry?
No. Rooting is a normal (although adorable) behavior that occurs in newborns, especially premature ones. Rooting is a way for your baby to learn about their body, as well as a way for them to regulate their temperature and comfort themselves when they are upset. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it, though. If your baby is rooting, you should offer him a more appropriate source of comfort, like a soft swaddle, a pacifier, or your chest. Rooting is a good sign that your baby’s suck reflex is intact, which is essential in breastfeeding. Rooting can also help your baby build the muscles they need to latch correctly.
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Can you still breastfeed if the baby doesn’t latch?
Yes. You can still breastfeed even if your baby doesn’t latch. For one, breastfeeding is about more than just the latch. In fact, the latch is just the first step. What matters most is that you can get milk to flow through the nipple. That said, you may have to resort to pumping and/or using a supplemental feeding method, such as feeding your baby formula or feeding tube.
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My baby used to latch but won’t anymore. What changed?
If your baby was latching just fine at first but now won’t latch at all, there are a few reasons why this could be happening. First, it could be normal regression. Many newborns will latch only a few times a day at first, then latch more frequently as they get more comfortable breastfeeding. Alternatively, your baby may be experiencing discomfort because of a change in their mouth (such as a growth spurt or a change in their teeth). It could also be a result of changes in your breasts. They may have changed due to hormonal shifts, a decrease in milk supply, or the introduction of a supplemental feeding method.
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So, what can you do to make things a little easier?
Try a Nursing Pillow
Nursing pillows are designed to help mothers get baby latched properly. The headrest of the pillow cradles your baby’s head while you position him in the “football” hold, with their chin tucked and their ear below the nipple. Once baby has latched, the soft, flexible breast pad of the pillow keeps your nipple in the proper position for baby to latch. It can be challenging to get a good latch if you keep needing to adjust your baby’s position. A nursing pillow can help keep baby’s head in the right position so he can latch.
Bring in a Pro
If you’re not feeling confident about your ability to get your baby latched on correctly or struggling with breastfeeding, it’s best to bring in a pro. Bringing in a lactation consultant (or LC) is not an indication of failure; instead, it’s about getting breastfeeding off to a good start, which can be challenging for any new mom. In addition, bringing in an LC can help you troubleshoot any issues related to latching and identify and correct any underlying problems contributing to your discomfort (such as an improper latch or a low milk supply).
Try a Different Position
Try a different position if you’re having trouble getting baby to latch correctly in one position. Each breastfeeding position has its own set of pros and cons. If you’re having a hard time, try switching positions to see if one works better than the other.
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Unfortunately, the challenges that come with breastfeeding don’t end when your baby latches. And while it’s important to know how you can overcome latch challenges, it’s also important to understand how to deal with the challenges that come afterward. You’ll likely notice that breastfeeding affects how often you’re able to feed your baby, how often you burp them, and how often they sleep. Remember that all of these challenges are normal, and it’s important to be patient with yourself.
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