The most common cause of nipple pain while breastfeeding is a Poor Latch. If you have sore nipples and you see any of these 11 sign of a poor latch, you need to see a certified lactation consultant (ICBLC). Ask your pediatrician for a referral to a lactation consultant ASAP. Most hospitals have them on staff. You can also look for one near you at the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. The best treatment for a poor latch is positioning the baby correctly at the breast. You may need hands on help from a lactation consultant or lactation specialist.

Poor Latch Signs:

Your baby is latching on to just the nipple.
• You do not see or hear your baby swallowing.
• Your baby is sucking in her cheeks as she tries to breastfeed.
• baby does not have her lips flanged or one is tucked in as she sucks
• You hear clicking or smacking noises
• Your nipples are sore
• Your nipples are cracked or have broken skin
• Breastfeeding is painful for more than the first 10-15 seconds of the feed.
• Your baby seems unhappy and frustrated, and continues to show signs of hunger after feeding.
• Your newborn is losing too much weight. Normal weight loss is 5-8% of their birth weight.
• Your baby is not gaining weight at the recommended rate or hasn’t regained their birth weight by 10-14 days.

Poor latch causes:

The most common cause of nipple pain is caused by a poor latch. 

  • Poor latch can be caused by positioning of the baby. 
  • Babies must be tummy to tummy with their moms; nose opposite the nipple; chin coming to breast first; mouth open as wide as a yawn for a deep latch. 
  • The nipple needs to go all the way back to baby’s soft palate. 
  • The lips are flanged out and the bottom lip will cover most of the areola and the upper lip will cover less of the areola. 
  • In many cases women are told to keep the latch for only a short time. This is a good suggestion if the mother is getting frustrated or is having a hard time getting started. But in most cases, limiting the time at the breast is not necessary.
  • Sometimes nipple pain can be caused by problems in the baby’s oral structure. ie: tongue or lip tie. Baby is not able to thrust the tongue long enough to milk the breast or open the mouth wide enough to flange the lips.