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But They Said the Latch Looked Good

Categories: breastfeeding & lactation

January 21, 2015

author: Jeanette Mesite Frem

How many times have you heard someone say "well, at the hospital they said his latch looked good" but yet the mom saying this is still having breastfeeding issues?

I hear it all the time. In group. In private consultations. Online. It's an epidemic.


Did you know that hospitals are pressured by the department of public health to have high breastfeeding rates...what that actually means is that a baby latched onto the breast at least one time before discharge. Yup. Once. Check the box, people, the baby latched!


Nurses care. Lactation consultants care. Doctors care. But not everyone you encounter at a hospital knows your whole story nor are they allowed the time to really sit with you, listen and see what's going on with nursing and milk-making. It's not a perfect system. Any nurse or hospital-based lactation consultant will tell you that. Nurses don't get the training they need to be able to provide as in-depth care as may be needed and lactation consultants have to see too many mom-baby pairs each shift. They can only comment on what they see when they are in your room. AND there are pressures from the administration as well. Did you know that one lactation consultant at a Boston-area hospital told me (in person, to me and about 100 others in a room at a conference) that she would be fired if she ever uttered the words "tongue tie" at her hospital again. 


[insert pause here to allow time for your loud gasp.]


What is a latch, anyway? There are long discussions in the lactation world about how to assess a latch. There is even an assessment tool that assigns phrases to each letter of the word LATCH. Here's my interpretation of that acronym.

L: can the infant latch to the breast deeply and sustain the attachment and suckle?

A: can we hear audible swallows?

T: what type of nipple does mom have (everted, inverted, flat, long, large)?

C: is mom comfortable?

H: how much help does mom need to keep her baby in a comfortable position at the breast?


Each aspect is important but ultimately, if the latch looks beautiful (lips phlanged out with mouth wide) but mom is not comfortable and/or getting soreness, cracks and even bleeding OR baby isn't transferring the milk that we know mom has, then there's something not quite right. Period.


If it's not comfortable, ask for help. If you get help and are still experiencing soreness, get more help. If you need to stop nursing for a day or two or three to pump and heal your nipples, fine. Feed the baby. Heal the nipples. Protect the milk supply. And get help.


Too many women start out their life as a mother saying that breastfeeding is important to them but then ultimately I see or hear that they have quit in the first two weeks of their baby's life because their nipples are in too much pain or their baby isn't gaining weight. Hey, if a woman doesn't want to breastfeed, that's her business. But if she does and she doesn't know how to get help? That pisses me off. Yup. Mad. I didn't get into this profession because it's particularly lucrative. I'm passionate about helping moms make milk and love to help babies drink milk.


Were you helped in your baby's first two weeks of life? Did you know where to turn? Did breastfeeding go well for you at first? Is it easy, not for everyone, but neither is learning a new skill...but we ask for help, get training, get second opinions, ask friends, ask those who have done it successfully and sometimes have to hire a coach. And be dedicated. It's a team effort, really, would you agree?




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