Latching problems and nipple pain

Will my baby’s latching problem cause nipple pain?

Even though the baby's latch is frequently blamed for causing nipple pain, babies with a true latching problem generally can’t stay on the nipple long enough to cause it. Occasionally, babies may clamp onto the nipple or latch onto the areola while trying to breastfeed. Nipple pain and damage can, however, be caused by a large number of other reasons.

A) The relationship between nipple pain and latching problems

One of the misconceptions in breastfeeding is that nipple pain and damage is always caused by latching problems. However, mothers suffer nipple pain and damage for a large number of reasons. These can develop shortly after starting breastfeeding or after a pain-free period. Such pain will often happen as the baby latches. The latch is blamed but the problem lies elsewhere.

For example, abnormal nipples and nipple roots can result in the nipple not being in the right position in the baby’s mouth and pain with breastfeeding. Soft nipples are especially likely to be painful when starting to breastfeed. The problem lies with the mother’s breast and not the latch per se and to fix the problem, the mother’s breast, not the latch, needs attention.

Babies who have a true latching problem and can’t get on or stay on the breast usually do not cause a lot of pain. Occasionally, they will clamp and pull on the nipple as they try to create a vacuum. They may also latch onto the areola. However, they generally can’t stay on long enough to do a lot of damage.