5 Signs Baby Isn’t Breastfeeding Properly and What You Can Do

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Solutions for Common Breastfeeding Woes

Breastfeeding is a beautiful way for mothers to bond with their babies and give them the best nutritional start to life during the first year. But as natural as breastfeeding is, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy!

It’s normal for moms to experience complications when nursing their babies, especially if it’s their first time breastfeeding. The good news is the sooner you notice a problem, the sooner you’ll be able to help your baby and get them back on track with healthy growth.

Here are five examples of what you might notice if your baby is having trouble breastfeeding.

1. Your baby isn’t gaining weight, despite frequent feedings.

If your baby is losing weight or gaining weight at a slower pace than normal, this could point to a breastfeeding issue. Babies will often also show signs of lethargy, frustration while nursing, or even seem hungry despite a long nursing session.

Healthy infants should gain between 5 and 7 ounces of weight per week at a steady pace. Babies born with health complications may gain less than this amount, so their pediatrician should closely monitor their weight to ensure they’re still on track.

Babies with trouble nursing don’t always show signs of slow weight gain or stunted growth, but if your child is having problems with low weight, a pediatrician must get involved. 

2. You’re experiencing pain and breast pressure after feeding.

Breastfeeding takes some getting used to, but experiencing constant pain in your breasts or nipples isn’t normal.

Nipple pain is often caused when a baby is having difficulty latching properly, and it can lead to cracked skin and sores. Breast pain usually feels like pressure or hardness in the breast tissue. It’s normal to feel slightly engorged before feeding, but if you nurse your baby and your breasts still feel this way, it could be a sign that your baby isn’t feeding well.

A visit to a lactation consultant can be really helpful in figuring out what’s causing your pain. Sometimes changing your position while nursing is all that’s needed. We also recommend having your baby evaluated by a pediatric dentist or pediatrician to ensure their oral anatomy allows for proper latching.

3. Your baby has too few wet diapers for their age.

As the saying goes, what goes in must come out. Keeping an eye on your baby’s bowel movements provides you with important information on how well they’re feeding.

After about a week of age, your baby should have a fairly regular bowel movement “schedule.” Of course, this can vary a bit, but if your baby is having too few wet diapers, this is a warning sign of a digestive issue. Infants should have six or more wet diapers (urine) and four or more bowel movements (stool).

If your baby is having fewer than these, or their bowel movements or urine is an odd color or consistency, consult a pediatrician right away.

4. Your nursing sessions are much shorter or longer than average.

Babies that have trouble latching and getting enough milk will often feel frustrated and will pull away from the breast in less than 10 minutes. Similarly, a baby that isn’t latching well may want to breastfeed for longer than 45 to 50 minutes in an effort to get a full feeding. Low milk production is another cause of long nursing sessions. 

Your GP or a lactation consultant can help you figure out if the cause is low milk or if your baby is having trouble latching.

5. Your baby has a tongue or lip tie preventing them from latching.

You’ve probably noticed a pattern… many struggles with breastfeeding can be caused by a baby having trouble latching. Without a proper latch, nursing can be frustrating and leave your baby reluctant to want to feed. So, what exactly causes latching problems in the first place? Often it can be due to a tongue or lip tie.

Tongue and lip ties occur when a baby’s frenulum restricts movement of either their tongue or lips. The frenulum is that tiny flap of skin you can see under your tongue. Your lips also have frenulums that connect them to the mouth. When these flaps are very short and tight, it leaves the baby unable to latch well because they don’t have a full range of motion in their mouth.

A pediatrician can spot a tongue tie or lip tie, but another solution is to see a pediatric dentist experienced in frenectomies, the treatment option used for revising these two problems. A frenectomy is a very simple procedure done in-office, usually with a simple topical anesthetic. 

If your baby does have a tongue or lip tie, it’s important to get treatment. Even if your baby is able to manage to feed, these two issues can cause trouble later in life as your baby learns to chew and speak.

Gentle and Effective Frenectomies in Vancouver, WA

The Must Love Kids team provides complete dental care services to children of all ages, from infancy to their 18th birthday.

Our pediatric dentists often see infants suffering from a tongue tie or lip tie impeding their ability to nurse. We offer gentle frenectomies with a special diode laser that allows us to quickly revise these issues. Laser frenectomies also have the benefit of minimizing swelling and bleeding since these tools cauterize the tissue. The result is a frenectomy that’s far more comfortable for babies to experience. If you suspect your baby has a tongue or lip tie, schedule a consultation to have their oral anatomy evaluated. You can book your visit by calling our office or requesting one online.