Breastfeeding is probably one of my very favorite things about being a mommy. The connection you form with your child is amazing! The benefits for both baby and mom and unbeatable. Now, if only it was easy and natural like everyone says it is! Breastfeeding is tough sometimes, getting baby to latch and everything else doesn’t always come naturally unless everything goes perfectly. But, umm hello…I don’t live in a perfect world and I’m sure you all don’t either.
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So, you’ve read how great breastfeeding is and you know you want to do it. Now, you are home from the hospital with no help from those awesome nurses and your baby just will not latch on! What do you do? Baby is crying and hungry and needs to eat! You can’t get that tiny little mouth to grab onto your boob or stay on. Come on baby, I just want to feed you and my boobs are huge. Please help mommy out! Don’t panic I am going to give you some awesome resources to help you figure this out!
Where to start when your baby won’t latch on…
Take a break and a deep breath – Pass your baby to someone else for a couple minutes or put baby in a safe place and step away for a few minutes. Gather yourself and take some deep breaths. You CAN do this! It may take some work but don’t give up. You are a mom now and that little person deserves your best so dig deep and find that attitude.
Watch a YouTube instructional video – Sometimes it is best to see the real thing in action. Lucky for us we live in a modern day where there are videos about literally everything! I LOVE the videos these women have created they are so informational! Watch and then try changing things with your baby. This deep latch video is also very helpful! Check them out and check out a few more to find some really great tips to help calm your baby and get her/him latched on.
Switch it up – If baby is having a tough time(crying, kicking, clenching, squirming, flailing) try changing your position, baby’s position and breast position too! Lean back and get comfortable and then get baby snuggled in and comfortable too. Don’t worry about the “right” position, the right position is a natural one for your and baby where you are both comfortable and relaxed…seriously go lounge back on the couch and snuggle baby into your body. The more comfortable you are the easier it will be for both of you. Then try to support your breast and get baby open wide and to latch on. Check out the second video above for a calming position to reset your baby.
Express it – Start to hand express a few drops onto your breast to give baby a little taste sometimes that can be enough motivation to get things going and encourage baby to latch on. Not sure how to hand express?(It may seem weird at first but it is a skill you are going to want to learn in case you are ever in a pinch and don’t have your baby or a pump) Check out this video.
Sleepy baby – Sometimes babies are too tired to wake up and eat. They are growing at an insane rate and will need to eat every 2-3 hours in those first couple months. Yes, you may have to wake a baby to eat. If your baby nods off at the breast try stroking under his chin or cheek to stimulate the sucking reflex. Another thing to try is tickling her feet or rubbing her head. If that is not doing the trick you may have to actually undress baby, do a diaper change and get your baby more alert and ready to feed.
Engorged Breasts – Try hand expressing or pumping a little bit to stimulate a let down so that your breast will be softer and easier to latch onto.
If you need baby to nurse right now because he/she is starving…
You are going to have to go to the store or have someone go for you. Or use AMAZON PRIME NOW hour delivery(Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial). I am going to share a little secret weapon that can make the difference in breastfeeding in the early days. It is called a nipple shield. It can be found at many grocery stores, Walmart, Fred Meyer, Target, and baby stores(it will be in the bottle section and is made by Medela, Lasinoh, Nuk, and a few other brands). It is a little shield you use on your nipple to help pull it out and to help give baby something easier to latch on to. You wet it and fold it into itself and pop it back out so that it suctions to your nipple. Here is a how to use the nipple shield video.
If your baby has a tiny mouth, tongue tie, or something else that is making it hard for her/him to latch on then this can save you in a pinch. I have to tell you that a nipple shield is not a long term fix. It is something you need to use as a temporary tool because it can decrease milk supply and not stimulate the breast as much as needed to produce the right amount of milk. But, it will get you through until you are able to get some help figuring out how to correct the problems you are facing.
I promise that it gets so much easier once you get the hang of it! And it just takes a little practice and help to get you and baby comfortable breastfeeding on your own. I also promise that is so totally worth the trouble! It is one of the best things you can give to your baby and to yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally.
How to get help with breastfeeding positions, latch, pumping, and more…
Getting help breastfeeding is so easy to find these days and the best part about it is that it is covered by insurance and if you don’t have insurance there are awesome free options too! I want to lay out all your options and resources so that you can choose the right one for your family.
Lactation Consultant (In-Home) – A lactation consultant is an amazing resource for help with all your breastfeeding needs! They are very passionate about what they do and have such amazing advice. They are trained in all aspects of breastfeeding and are covered by most insurance companies. What you can expect is a woman to come to your home for a feeding time. She will watch baby and you and guide you into better positions, methods, and techniques. She will help you learn how to use those techniques yourself so that you feel comfortable on your own. The lactation consultant can also take a look at your particular breasts, your baby’s mouth and both your body language to help determine what is causing you both trouble and how to fix it!
Lactation Consultant (In-Office) – This will be the same situation only you and baby will go to an office during a feeding time. Whichever you are more comfortable with will be the right option for you.
Breastfeeding Group – Many hospitals and pediatrician offices offer free or small fee breastfeeding groups. The awesome part about these groups is that they are hosted by lactation consultants! Yay! Free awesome advice and you can make some new mom friends. One thing I loved about our group was that it was so nice to hear how other moms did things too! I learned a lot from the moms with babies who were a couple months in age ahead of my baby.
Pediatrician – Your baby’s pediatrician can be a good source for breastfeeding information sometimes. It will really depend on who you get. This is somewhere you have to go with baby anyways for well checks and the doctor will ask about feeding so it is a very appropriate place that you should be able to get help and advice.
Midwife/Doula – If you have used a midwife or doula with your pregnancy/delivery/recovery they often are trained in breastfeeding and lactation as well and may be a great resource to help you.
Other moms – Moms are awesome! We all love to share how we survived the first year. It is tough stuff raising a baby and having a friend to laugh it off with can be great. Even better they can tell you what has worked and what hasn’t worked for them. It may not be the same for your family but it is a good starting point.
Online – My very favorite resource online for breastfeeding information..the deep stuff like studies and all that, is kellymom.com. The information is trustworthy, reliable, accurate, and informational not just a mom giving her advice.
Hopefully, this will help you get your baby to latch on or direct you to the resources that can help you and your baby. If you want a quick reminder of all the great things breastfeeding offers you and your baby check out this post about the benefits of breastfeeding in plain English. I can’t count the times I reread those things and powered through tough breastfeeding moments because it reminded me just how great breastfeeding really is!
If you are wishing breastfeeding was simpler then definitely check out these 8 ways to make breastfeeding easier.
Do you have a question? I would love to help out! If these tips helped you keep going through those early breastfeeding days I would love if you left a comment. Even if you never leave comments I would LOVE if you left one here! I want this to be a place for women to connect and help each other. My other mommies out there please feel free to add in your tips and tricks to getting baby to latch on!