Print Friendly and PDF

“I’m really scared of breastfeeding.” Pregnant with her first, my friend subconsciously rubbed her 34 week belly as I made dinner and we chatted. Puzzled, I asked her why. She said she googled and learned that it can be so painful—particularly if they don’t have a good latch.


“How do you get a good latch?” she asked me.

She went on to explain that she had read different blogs and forums about how hard it was to get a good latch—women with bleeding nipples, and babies not gaining weight. She wondered what was the secret to a good latch and what if it didn’t happen for her. It’s true that these issues do happen (and probably far too often) but here she was—weeks away from having her little baby, scheduled to take a breastfeeding class in the next couple of weeks, and worried that she was facing a world of pain if she couldn’t get this elusive latch.

FEATURED VIDEO

Earlier that same day I had coffee with a good friend—an IBCLC at a local hospital. The topic of this elusive perfect latch came up and she surprised me by telling me that she thinks we make too big deal about the latch.

“If mom isn’t in pain and baby has plenty of soiled and wet diapers, why do we need to mess with anything? Sure, if there’s a problem such as pain or a dehydrated baby then we need to fix what we can, but so what if that bottom lip is curled in if it’s not bothering anything.”

In other words—if it’s comfortable and it’s working, it’s a good latch.

There is a wide range of normal. In general, if everything is working right, babies are ready to breastfeed and mom’s breasts are ready to feed them. It just works and we really don’t need to mess with it—it doesn’t have to be this complicated endeavor. Maybe it will be difficult, but we don’t have to expect trouble. More often than not, women simply need support.

Join Motherly

If mom is experiencing difficulty with pain or ineffective milk transfer for her baby, she may not even realize that the way her baby is latched could be what’s causing the problem or that it may even be a fairly simple fix. When there are issues such as poor weight gain for baby or bleeding nipples the first thing to consider is a poor latch. If you are ever experiencing pain with breastfeeding that is more than a brief moment of discomfort or lasts beyond initial latch please seek out help, pain is usually an indication of a problem than can be corrected. This doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, it just means you probably need help.

I talked with my friend Star Rodriguez, IBCLC of Lactastic Services and WIC peer counselor to get her best tips on improving your little one’s latch.


When do you need to consider latch issues and improving your nursling’s latch?

—When breastfeeding is painful beyond the initial latching.

—When there is tissue damage to your nipples.

—When there are weight gain issues for the baby.

What latch pointers can moms try?

—Mom is in a comfortable position and has brought the baby to her level to her instead of leaning down to the baby.

—Baby has wide open mouth.

—Baby’s body is facing yours and baby’s arms are not pushing away at you.

—It is best to let the breast fall naturally if possible.

—If large breasted or when milk first comes in, it may be helpful to hold your breast with your hand.

—Aim baby’s nose toward the nipple; if necessary to encourage a wider mouth, tickle the very top of the baby’s upper lip with your nipple.

—Latch should be asymmetrical. Chin will touch the breast, nose will be unobstructed. You do not need to push your breast away from your baby’s nose in a good latch.

—You will hear or see baby swallowing—short sucks/swallows at first, longer ones as milk starts to let down.

—If using a nipple shield, ensure that the nipple and surrounding tissue is being pulled into the shield.

What can a mom do to try to improve a painful or ineffective latch?


—If baby isn’t opening mouth wide enough, attempt to show baby by opening your own mouth wide. Many babies will subconsciously mimic this.

—Make a “breastwich” with your hand in the shape of a C behind the areola to help baby get a bigger mouthful.

—Get baby as naked as possible for skin-to-skin or lightly dressed.

—Hold baby securely, a snug, close hold will help.

—Pull baby in quickly when mouth is open wide.

—It is common to experience some discomfort at latch in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. It should go away as the feeding continues. If it does not end after around 30 seconds, you may need to remove the baby from the breast and reposition the baby. Break the suction by placing your little finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth and trying to latch again. Some lactation consultants can show you ways to fix a latch without taking the baby off the breast, but those are easier to learn from being shown rather than told. You may need to put the baby in a different nursing hold or position.

When should a lactation consultant be called?

—Repositioning doesn’t work

If there is sudden soreness after there has been painless nursing.

—If you feel stabbing or burning pain in breasts or at latch.

—If you have cracked or bleeding nipples.

—If your latch is not painful but your baby is not having a good amount of wet and dirty diapers.


A version of this article was originally published on The Leaky Boob.

Join Motherly

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.
Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Thanks for subscribing!

Check your email for a confirmation message.

There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.

FEATURED VIDEO

"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!

News

In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.

FEATURED VIDEO

Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]

Life

Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

FEATURED VIDEO

Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

News

Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

FEATURED VIDEO

Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.