1) Effect of poor positioning on the mother:
Mothers may struggle to hold themselves or their babies in uncomfortable positions. They may feel tense and develop body pain in one or more areas (Charette 2019).
Poor positioning can also mean the baby’s mouth is not lined up with the nipple or is too far from it, causing pain and damage. The baby may:
- Stretch the whole nipple, causing pain and damage to the sides or bottom.
- Pull the nipple to one side, causing pain and damage to one of the sides or the bottom (Douglas 2017).
- Not bring the nipple deep inside the mouth causing compression pain and damage to the face.
- Need to use more suction to stay latched.
Babies may breastfeed with one arm in front of the chest instead of circling the breast. This can result in baby's body being twisted or too far from the mother's body. In addition, older babies can use the arm to quickly push away from the mother while still latched and cause nipple pain (nip-lash).
2) Effect of poor positioning on the baby:
The baby may be more likely to choke if the head is not in the sniffing position but rather is twisted or bent. While choking is normal in many breastfeeding babies, it is not enjoyable for them and it is reasonable to try and minimize it.
The baby’s breathing while breastfeeding can be affected if the nose is covered.
Babies in a poor position often need to use more suction to stay latched. Premature, sleepy newborn, or sick babies may have trouble creating and maintaining adequate amounts of suction. This causes latching problems and can result in poor milk removal from the breast and in the baby not getting enough milk.