Q&A: Painful Latching?

I just started nursing, and it hurts so badly when my baby latches on. Is this normal? Will it hurt forever?
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By Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Specialist
Updated January 30, 2017
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The most common cause of painful breastfeeding is a shallow latch, which causes your baby to compress your nipple against his or her hard palate. Feel the roof of your mouth with your tongue and notice that it’s softer farther back: That soft palate is the area in your baby’s mouth that some have nicknamed “the comfort zone.” If your nipple reaches this area during breastfeeding, there is no undue friction or pressure on it, making breastfeeding comfortable. One way to get a deep latch is to try a “laid-back breastfeeding” position. Lean back into a semi-reclined position and hold your baby so his tummy rests down your body between your breasts. Contact with your body triggers your baby’s inborn feeding behaviors and can help him or her get to the breast and latch on. Plus, with the help of gravity, many babies easily achieve a deeper latch without you even having to work at it. Give it a try.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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