Ouch! Baby pulling on the breast or on the Nipple…

Why does it happen and how to handle it?

baby pulling on nipple

What makes a real difference is knowing whether it’s happening at the beginning of a feed or the end of a feed. Or somewhere halfway through? 

This will be a really big clue for you.

If the tugging and pulling is more like pulling off to create a shallow latch during the initial let down (when your milk starts flowing at the beginning of a feed): 

It could be something to do with a fast let down or a fast flow and hence the baby trying to control the flow.

So they would be creating a shallow latch instead of a nice deep latch. Understandable, if you imagine someone trying to pour a pint down your throat while forcing your mouth open, you would quickly try and close your mouth and change the position of your head to control the flow, to stop yourself from drowning.

So this is a defence mechanism and can you remedy it by expressing a little bit of milk at the beginning of a feed – just hand expressing into a muslin perhaps or into a cup, by which method you are letting the first let down do its thing and letting the baby latch onto a softer breast.

Another way to achieve this is by reverse pressure softening. It is the technique of forming a flower shape with your fingers and thumb and pressing against the areola just around the  nipple in a circular motion and by pressing back towards the chest wall.

By pressing and holding and softening this area again to make it a little bit more available and a bit more comfortable for the little I was to latch on to.

If the pulling and tugging is halfway through or towards the end of a feed, it could signal a slowing down in the flow. So maybe the flow is now not fast enough for your baby to take the required amount of milk. So what you can do at this stage is breast compressions: one of the easiest and most versatile tools in breastfeeding.

A short summary of this technique is creating a C shape with your fingers and thumb and holding and compressing, further back away from the areola, towards the chest wall.

Pressing and holding the breast to help squeeze the milk out from the deeper cavities of your milk ducts. This is not a pumping motion. It’s a pressing and holding long hold basically. So you compress when the baby starts sucking and you let go when the baby stops sucking and you could move your hand around the perimeter of the breast, according to where you feel fullness.

And another really quick and easy way of of helping baby with a flow is to switch between breasts. So if he/she is struggling to take milk from a softer, emptier breast.

Remember, your breast is never empty. It’s usually about it can really only be empty to about two thirds, so there’s always about a third milk left, but their fattier stickier milk is just a little bit harder to suck out. So some babies just need a bit of help if they are very young for the oral restrictions or for any other reason. Really, we don’t always know the reason. But you can definitely helf by speeding up the flow by switching breasts as soon as they lose interest in drinking, even with breast impressions. I hope it helps.

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