Four Reasons your Baby Bites While Breastfeeding and How to Stop it
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There's nothing worse than peacefully breastfeeding your baby when they suddenly clamp down on your nipple? The truth is that babies bite while breastfeeding for different reasons but we can help you stop it!
Biting and breastfeeding doesn't mean it's time to stop nursing your baby
Many moms endure an older nursing baby biting at the breast at some point. While it is normal, it hurts like hell and you may not want to breastfeed anymore. I've breastfed four babies so I completely understand and I'd say that's a normal reaction.
But here's the thing: when your baby bites while breastfeeding, it's NOT a sign that your baby wants to end your breastfeeding journey. But, it's time to teach your baby that it it hurts!
Why your baby bites while breastfeeding
I can totally understand why some moms take this as a sign that their baby wants to quit breastfeeding, but that's not the case. Babies usually start this behaviour once breastfeeding is already well-established, so it can come as a serious surprise to you!
Obviously your baby can't just use words to tell you what's going on, but it may seem aggressive to you when they chomp down on your nipple while you're nursing. In fact, some women even experience a breastfeeding bite injury- OUCH!
So what is your baby trying to tell you? Check out these four reasons your baby bites while breastfeeding and how to stop it.
1) Baby's not actively feeding
If your baby is latched well on the breast, it’s impossible for her to bite you because your nipple is waaaay at the back of her throat. Biting happens when the baby isn’t actively feeding.
What to do when your baby isn't actively breast feeding:
As soon as you notice there’s no “suck, suck, pause, swallow” remove your baby from the breast and re-latch or end the feeding altogether, depending on your baby's behaviour.
If you're still pregnant and not too sure how this breastfeeding thing all works, DO NOT miss this post:
It's no joke how important those first couple of days are. I've even included a printable guide to a proper latch AND a guide to hand-expressing your breastmilk!
2) Your baby may be teething
Teething is often painful for babies and pressure on the gums may relieve the pain. What’s more convenient for pressure on the gums than your nipple? But you're not a teething ring, mama.
How to help your baby with teething pain:
Offer her a clean, frozen washcloth soaked in breastmilk to freeze her gums, then try to continue the feeding. When the baby's gums are frozen, they're less likely to feel the urge to bite.
3) Your milk is flowing too fast for the baby to keep up
Babies are born with some pretty cool instincts. If your breast milk flows too quickly for her to keep up, her instincts tell her to clamp down to stop the flow from choking her. So fucking amazing, right?
How to slow down your breast milk flow:
If you notice that you have a heavy milk flow and your baby is biting you, stop breastfeeding and hand express or pump your milk into a cup until you notice that your flow is slowing down. Put your baby back onto the breast and carry on.
The Willow Pump is is really cool and innovative!
4) Your baby is distracted or wants your attention while nursing
Yes, sometimes your baby will bite you to get your attention. And sometimes she may become distracted by something and unknowingly bite you.
How to stop your baby from being distracted while breastfeeding:
If you find your baby is easily distracted while breastfeeding, try to breastfeed in a darkened, quiet room. If you're out in public and you need to help your baby pay attention while nursing, this is a great option!
If you try these four solutions to your baby biting during breastfeeding and the biting doesn't get any better, get some help from an international board certified lactation consultant IBCLC , join La Leche League for peer support or hop over to Mamasoup and follow the hashtag called "Breastfeeding Support Group".
Good luck on your breastfeeding journey, Mama!
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Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!