When I was in the hospital with my first baby, he would not latch. There is nothing more stressful than not being able to feed your hungry baby. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to look into finding a lactation consultant who can watch you nurse and help diagnose what the problem may be. Yes, it is super weird to have to have someone watch you attempt to breastfeed, but I think it is worth it to end the stress of not being able to do it. If your baby won’t latch, you’ve probably already researched all the different techniques for varying positions, etc. Because you can find those all over the internet, I am going to skip that and just focus on what helped me.
Here are some suggestions if your baby won’t latch:
You know YOU best! If you are having trouble with getting your baby to latch, then you have probably already received a massive amount of advice. It can be overwhelming and frustratingly contradictory. So, I think the first step is to follow your intuition. Do what feels right. I had three different lactation consultants tell me three different things. They essentially advised the exact opposite of each other. This is not helpful for a new sleep deprived mom. Therefore, I think the most important step is to follow advice from one person, or one train of thought and ignore the rest.
Get Comfy! You are going to be spending a lot of time nursing, so find a position that is comfortable for both you and baby. I had carpel tunnel during and after my pregnancy, so the Boppy nursing pillow was a huge lifesaver in my being able to hold my baby for an extended time during nursing. Make sure you have a comfortable chair, couch, or bed where you can reach the things you need as you may be there awhile!
Keep Trying! I would try several times a day, every day until my son was able to latch. It was often disheartening and sometimes I would need a break from trying because I felt like I was failing. But the best advice I can give is to just keep at it and take care of yourself, taking breaks when you need them. Know that this frustrating phase won’t last forever, you will get there eventually!
Purchase Breastfeeding Gear! If you keep trying and it isn’t working, look into some breastfeeding gear that might help. Our lactation consultant had us get a Medela Finger Feeder. I didn’t love it. It was difficult to attach and I felt weird feeding my baby from my finger. However, it was nice for my husband to get to help feed the baby in the early days like this. What I preferred and what actually worked for us were nipple shields. Because my son’s issue was that he wasn’t opening his mouth wide enough, these allowed for him to latch on easier. I know that sometimes these are discouraged as they might be hard to get rid of once baby gets used to them. We didn’t have a problem with that though.
Be Kind to Yourself, Mama! If baby won’t latch and you are feeling defeated, know that you are still a wonderful mother and that you are doing a great job caring for your baby. Baby will be fed one way or another. Don’t beat yourself up over something that is largely out of your control.
I hope these tips are helpful! Enjoy all those extra baby snuggles that come with breastfeeding and bottle feeding alike!