Have you ever heard of a lipstick nipple after nursing? Read on to find out the causes and cure of lipstick nipple all in one place here in this article.
What is a ‘lipstick nipple’?
Breastfeeding moms and their newborns find the first few weeks tough till they initiate and establish a proper breastfeeding technique and pattern. Lactation experts explain that a good latch is a key to hassle-free breastfeeding. One of the problems associated with an improper or shallow latch is a lipstick nipple.
A lipstick nipple is characterized by a flattened nipple that appears slanted on one side like a tube of lipstick when it comes out of your baby’s mouth after s/he finishes nursing. This shows that your nipple is being pushed up against the hard palate of your baby’s mouth.
The Proper Latch
A good latch is when your baby is able to take the nipple and the areola into his/her mouth and gently suck the milk out of your breast by massaging the breast with their gums. You know your baby has a good latch if their chin touches your breast first, the lips are curled outward, and if their lower lip is further from your nipple base than their upper lip.
Ideally, the tip of your nipple must touch the roof of your baby’s mouth. If s/he latches on only to your nipple, it will result in painful, sore nipples for you, and your baby won’t be able to get at the thicker hindmilk.
Improper latching can lead to your baby getting insufficient milk and decreasing your milk supply because of inadequate stimulation. It could even slow down your baby’s development in the long run. When your baby’s latch is not deep enough, you will observe that your nipple appears slanted and flat after nursing, hence the name lipstick nipple. Though it does not cause pain in most cases, it still needs to be addressed to ensure that your baby gets sufficient milk.
How do you fix your lipstick nipple?
Rest assured that you can rectify this problem. The remedy lies in encouraging your baby to get a good latch. Hold your baby comfortably, with your hand supporting his/her shoulders and head. Keep your baby’s face turned toward you, with their head held a little higher and the chin tilted up. With your other hand, hold the base of your breast, compress it between thumb and forefinger, and point the nipple towards your baby’s nose.
This will make your baby lift the chin and open the mouth widely and take in the nipple and areola well inside their mouth.
If you notice that your baby is having a shallow latch mid feed, insert a finger into the corner of his/her mouth that is closest to you, break the latch and help him/her get a deeper latch again. A proper latch makes your breastfeeding pain-free, and you should only feel gentle tugging sensations at your breast.
If your breast is too full and your baby is unable to take the areola into his/her mouth, then expressing some milk manually or with a breast pump will help. It makes the areola less turgid and easier for your baby to take into their mouth. Also, check if your baby suffers from a tongue tie, which will not allow him/her to get a good latch. If so, seek treatment for tongue tie first before trying any of the above recommendations.
If your baby still struggles to get a good latch, try laying on your back and place your baby over you, their mouth touching your breast. This will help your baby open their mouth wide and latch on deeply. Wearing a nipple shied is another option.
This will reduce the pressure of your baby’s gums on your nipple. But this must be used only as a short-term remedy till your baby gets the latch right.