My Baby Won’t Latch!

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I hear this phrase several times a week. It troubles me because it implies that the baby is unwilling breastfeed. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You baby was born to breastfeed! She is hard-wired to seek comfort and nutrition from you breasts. This is, after all, how babies survive! When a baby is unable to latch and breastfeed it  simply means that she is unable to latch and breastfeed—not that she is unwilling!

If your baby does not breastfeed right away, you may feel that there is something wrong with your breasts, or your baby doesn’t want to breastfeed or even that your baby doesn’t like you. None of these things are even remotely true, however. Your baby is most comforted by you—the scent of your skin, the sound of your voice and the rhythm of your heart and breathing.

There is no need for panic if your baby doesn’t latch immediately after birth. Let your baby snuggle skin-to-skin on your chest. Let her nuzzle against your breast. Encourage her as she scoots around searching for your nipple.

If your baby is attempting to latch on and is unable to grasp the breast or maintain her latch, she may be having some simple coordination problems. Seek the help of a lactation consultant. These things usually work themselves out over time, but you will need support and guidance to ensure your baby gets plenty of your milk while she’s learning to breastfeed.

See also: Ten Reasons to Call a Lactation Consultant

Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com

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