Painful Nipple Sucking

As educators of breastfeeding, we constantly remind mothers to make sure baby is opening the mouth wide, “like a yawn,” before latching.

Repetition of correct latch-on is vital for processing the brain connectors necessary for developing proper suck. Opening wide allows baby’s gums to bypass the nipple completely and take in a large mouthful of areola. This not only allows for massaging the breast to create a milk flow, but also greatly decreases the chance of sore, damaged nipples.

To illustrate the importance of proper latch-on and the detrimental effects to the nipple without a good latch, have mom put her index finger in her own mouth and insert just until her lips meet at the first knuckle. Have her suck on her finger and feel the potential abrasive effect to her finger. Next, tell her to put her finger in deeper, to the second knuckle, and suck as she did before. This time there should be no rubbing. The tongue comes up under the finger, compressing it against the roof of the mouth, and does not touch the end at all.

This simple trick can help a new Mom better understand why getting the breast further back into baby’s mouth can make the difference between sore nipples and comfortable breastfeeding!