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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Infant Feeding Problems: Poor Latch

Infant Feeding Problems Poor LatchAfter my son was born, I was very eager to start breastfeeding. Since it was my first time, I was not aware of the obstacles that many mothers face at the beginning of their breastfeeding journey. For me, among the infant feeding problems I faced, the most stressful was a baby with a poor latch. I received a lot of help from the lactation consultants at the hospital. They showed me different nursing positions to see if a certain one would help.

Using a Nipple Shield

Regardless of the position I was nursing in, I was in pain. My son’s latch would not improve. He was only latching on to the nipple which caused extreme discomfort. This also led to cracked, bleeding nipples. Finally, the lactation consultant brought me a nipple shield and explained to me the correct way to use it. The nipple shield helped tremendously.

There are two types of nipple shields:

  1. Regular – It covers the entire areola.
  2. Contact – It has a cut-out designed for skin-to-skin contact.

I have tried both and preferred to use the contact nipple shield.

The Inconvenience of the Nipple Shield

Infant Feeding Problems: Improper Latch

While the shield did help with the latch problem, it also was a burden. I constantly had to wash it after each feeding. I felt trapped at home because I couldn’t breastfeed in public. The shield did not make it a quick and easy process. If I did go out grocery shopping, I would nurse in the car.

After a few days of using the nipple shield I started to hate it. I just wanted to breastfeed without having to worry about putting it on.

I tried nursing without it, but my son would have such a hard time latching on that I had no other choice. Some days I would even cry. It was that bad.

Despite feeling defeated, I never once thought about giving up breastfeeding. I also got advice from a breastfeeding peer counselor who was always available to talk to. It’s important to seek guidance when facing infant feeding problems, whether it’s through a lactation consultant or from other moms who have experienced the same issue.

Tongue-Tied Baby

During one of his check-ups, the pediatrician noticed that he was tongue-tied, also known as ankyloglossia. I was unaware of what a tongue-tie was at the time. It was the main reason why my baby’s latch was poor. The tongue-tie prevented him from latching on properly. It was recommended to get the frenulum clipped to improve his latch.

We never got around to getting the procedure done because the location was too far for us to travel. I continued to use the shield for about 3 months. I asked myself, “Will I be able to nurse someday without this?”

Progress: Moving Beyond the Shield

As my son got older, I knew his latch would improve. One day, I decided to try to breastfeed again without the nipple shield. He didn’t immediately like the idea but with lots of encouragement and patience, I was finally able to get rid of the shield! It was a very proud moment for both of us. I felt great relief just being able to nurse him with no barriers!

I’m so happy I didn’t stop breastfeeding when facing the issue of a poor latch.  A year later, I am still breastfeeding with no feeding problems at all. My son is right on track with his health.

It was a difficult journey but we made it through.

Kelly is a stay-at-home mom and takes pride in being a Navy wife. She is a first time mom living in California and has over a year's worth of breastfeeding experience. When she's not out exploring the new place she's in, thanks to the military life, she is keeping up with her blog Hiccups and Sunshine. You can also follow Kelly on Facebook.


  1. My daughter is 4 months old and also has a minor tongue tie. Our pediatrician said it wasn’t pronounced enough to do the procedure, but I’ve had constant issues with her latch. She just doesn’t have a deep latch, and gets around the nipple like you explained. I’ve never tried a nipple shield. Is it something I could try now? The lactation consultant recommended pushing through if I could and see if it got better as her mouth got bigger. It IS better, but nothing like it was with my son. I had very few problems with him. Thanks for your post. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!

    • Hi Megan,

      My son’s old pediatrician diagnosed him with a severe tongue tie. Although I never had the procedure done to correct it, his latch did improve as he got older. His latch was not perfect (and it still isn’t perfect today) but he is able to get enough milk! Occasionally, I will have to uncurl his lips so he doesn’t suck in any air or I’ll have him unlatch and start over. I prefer this over using the nipple shield any day!

      Is your daughter having trouble getting enough milk to the point where the nipple shield would be your last resort? Does she fuss a lot because of her poor latch? Is she gaining weight?
      You are certainly not alone! We are here to give you advice and support. 🙂


      • Hi Kelly! She is getting enough milk as far as I know. She’s in the 47th percentile in weight and 95th in height! I do need to uncurl her lips sometimes too and have had her re-latch as well. The last feeding in the evening is the hardest because she is more tired. I don’t think she’s draining me, though, because I wake up in the middle of the night engorged and she is sound asleep. She sleeps 12 hours! I know a lot of people would say it’s not a bad problem to have, but I’m not getting any sleep because I’m engorged. I pumped this morning at 4am to get some relief and got 10 ounces of milk! I’m just not sure what the issue truly is or what to do. Thank you so much for responding!

        • That’s great that she is getting enough milk! You’re on the right track.

          About engorgement: Your breasts could take a bit to adjust to your daughter sleeping through the night. Breastfeeding Place author Rhiana suggests you to stop pumping because your body will continue to produce more milk, causing more engorgement. Try feeding your baby before she gets too tired – 15 minutes before getting her ready for bed. Hope that helps you! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any more questions.

  2. This is wonderful encouragement for other women! Thank you so much for sharing with the Tuesday Baby Link Up Community!


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