Breastfeeding: How To Handle Nipple Biting While Nursing
Nipples are one of the most delicate parts of a woman’s body. Thus, imagine getting bitten on them by a tiny baby who probably doesn’t even yet understand the meaning or intensity of pain their little growing and sharp teeth are causing their mother. Nipples biting is usually a passing phase and doesn’t last beyond a few days or, at max, a few weeks. But understanding what leads to breast biting will help you stop this from happening. A little persistence is all you need, and you will not have to yelp in pain due to nipples biting anymore.
Why Do Babies Indulge In Nipples Biting
Babies cannot communicate; thus, you cannot just directly ask the little brat at the moment, “Hey, why the nipple bites, baby? Mumma is getting hurt!”. If only that were possible. But don’t worry. We are here to help you understand the reasons behind nipples biting. Here are some reasons why your baby might be giving you those painful nipples bite:
- - Teething babies usually bite everything they can probably put in their mouth to soothe the paining gums. So, if your baby is teething, the chances are that is the reason they are indulging in nipples biting.
- - If your baby needs your attention on them while they are nursing or are bored and want some eye contact, they will bite your nipples to have their attention on them.
- - If your milk flow is low and your baby is not feeling satisfied with the amount or the milk flow, they might bite your nipple out of frustration.
Should You Stop Breastfeeding Once Your Baby Has Teeth?
So, if teething is the main reason kids do nipples biting, should you stop breastfeeding once your baby has teeth? The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT! There is no difference or hindrance in latch due to the growing or grown teeth because babies suck the same way we adults do. Imagine sucking juice from a glass using a straw. We never use our teeth for that. The only issue is if your baby is biting you, which can be stopped with a bit of persistence.
In fact, many mothers continue breastfeeding till or beyond toddlerhood. Nipples biting should not be a reason for you to wean your baby off and stop breastfeeding them.
How To Stop Your Baby From Nipples Biting
Now we come to the topic of interest. Your baby is biting your nipple, and you want that to stop. Here is what all you can do to make that happen –
- Avoid any dramatic reaction – Your dramatic or surprising reaction might amuse your child, and they might like it. However, this will result in them biting even more to get that reaction out of you. So, keep yourself calm and avoid any loud responses.
- Remove your baby from the breast – Your baby must know and establish a connection that the milk will be taken away from them every time they bite. So, remove them from the breast, look directly into their eyes and say NO in a stern voice. Do this every time they indulge in nipples biting.
- Interact with your baby – If the reason why your baby is biting you is to get your attention, there is an easy way to handle this. Interact with your baby while nursing, talk to them, sing to them, and narrate a story to them.
- Offer a teething alternative – If teething and irritated gums are why your baby is biting you, give them something else to chew on. Refer to this Guide For Baby Teething to know more about teething and how to soothe a teething baby.
What To Do While Breastfeeding If Your Baby Bites
A bite on the nipples can be extremely painful if it comes unannounced. And if it is not just one nibble and then the pressure released, the pain can be excruciating for you. Try the following if your baby is biting you while breastfeeding:
- - When you know that your baby is in the biting phase, be mindful and keep a finger ready to break the suction if and whenever required.
- - Pulling back when your baby has a proper latch, and complete suction can damage your nipples too. Instead, put a finger in their mouth between gums, break the latch first, and then pull your breast out of their mouth.
- - Pulling your baby closer so that their nose presses against your breast can also break the latch as your baby will not be able to breathe correctly using the nose.
- - Sometimes, you will see and realise a pattern in their biting behaviour. If you can anticipate this, pull your breast out and give them a break or something to chew on before resuming the breastfeeding session.
What To Do If Your Nipples Are Damaged
The pain that nipples biting brings is not just momentary. At times this can lead to nipple damage and long-term pain. Here is what you can do if your nipples are damaged due to biting:
- - Until your nipples are not healed, you can pump or express milk and feed your baby using a bottle or a spoon.
- - If the damage is only on one breast, you may express from that breast and still breastfeed from the breast with no tears or damage.
- - Apply a cold pack to the nipples. That will soothe the pain and help you heal faster.
- - There are many nipple creams available in the market that are safe for breastfeeding mothers. Ask your doctor for a prescription and use nipple soothing creams for faster recovery.
Do You Need Feeding Support
Nipples biting is not something that you ideally need support for. But in case you think that the phase has gone beyond a few weeks and you cannot stop this behaviour, or your nipples are damaged because of this, you may speak to a lactation consultant. A certified and trained lactation consultant can help you through this phase and develop strategies to stop the nipple biting phase.
The phase might be painful and upsetting for you, but please remember that you are dealing with a little child here who probably does not even understand the implications of what they are doing. Losing your patience or being upset about it will bring no good. Keep yourself calm, work on stopping this habit and soon, breastfeeding will again be the happy and bonding experience that it is supposed to be for both of you. Happy breastfeeding!