First of all, what exactly is a lipstick nipple, and why is it an issue? This is when after your baby latches, your nipple comes out from their mouth flattened and looks like the tip of a brand new lipstick, a little slanted hence the name. Not only does it look weird for mom, but it also means that your baby isn’t getting a deep enough latch, a poor or lousy latch as some call it. That’s why it needs to be corrected as soon as possible because it may lead to more serious problems with your baby’s milk intake.
Cause and effect of lipstick nipple
The cause/s may vary from one mother to another, but ultimately, it goes down to one main reason: a poor latch.
A poor latch also has different possible causes, including the wrong position, baby latches on the tip of the nipple or a shallow latch, insufficient milk supply, and many more others. This could be corrected though, with a little help to your baby, they should latch properly.
The effects of lipstick or slanted nipple are like a domino effect. You might think that it’s just a day of a poor latch, and it shouldn’t be a cause of concern, but it could eventually affect your milk supply if this happens frequently or daily.
A decrease in milk supply sounds alarming now because once it decreases, your baby’s milk intake will decrease, leading to your baby not getting enough nutrition based on their age and needs. But, of course, we don’t want any of that, do we? So here’s how we can fix it.
How to fix lipstick nipple and why?
The main objective is to fix the lipstick nipple to get a good latch, and for you to do that, we have to make sure that you and your baby are both relaxed and comfortable.
Here are some tips that might help you and your baby to get a better latch.
- Keep Calm – Make sure that you and your baby are in a comfortable space where you can focus on each other. Different ways work for different babies; some might want a completely quiet room while others might want calming music playing while they latch. This is a case-to-case basis, do what works best for you and your baby.
- Skin-to-skin – I can’t give enough emphasis on how the skin-to-skin of a baby and a mother (or even a father) could do wonders. Let your baby feel your warmth, hear your heartbeat and your breathing. It helps them relax and calms them down, knowing that they will be safe, just like it was when they were inside mom’s tummy.
- Let them lead – Know when your baby is up to snuggle in your chest and when they are actually hungry. Pay attention to small details; sometimes breastfeeding moms tend to go on “autopilot” and don’t pay much attention to what their baby really wants to do. We get it, we’ve been there too, you’re not a bad mom, we are humans, and we get tired. Our intentions are always towards what’s best for our babies, but our minds and bodies don’t always cooperate accordingly.
How to make sure the baby gets a deep latch
Here are some tips that you might want to do with your baby while latching to ensure they are getting a deep and full latch.
- Find your position – There are different types of holds or positions that work for different babies. You might want to play around them until you and your baby finds which one is the most comfortable for the both of you.
- Clutch or football hold – Best for moms with C-section delivery, or if you have flat or inverted nipples, large breasts, or if your baby prefers to be in a more upright position when they latch.
- Cross-cradle or transitional hold – Helpful for babies with a weak suck or for premature babies because this position gives extra head support.
- Cradle hold – It is the easiest and most common hold which works for most mothers and babies.
- Laid-back/straddle hold – This is a more relaxed, baby-led position where gravity and an instinct to nurse will guide your baby to latch.
- Side-lying position – Also useful if you had a C-section and a chance to rest while your little one feeds.
- Check baby’s mouth – Encourage your baby to open his mouth wide open by holding him close. Your nipple should level with his nose; touch your nipple gently against his upper lip, which should make him open his mouth. Make sure that your baby is not only sucking the nipple because that would be a poor latch and could also be painful for the mom.
- Keep your baby close while latching – Every few minutes, check if they are still on a good potion; it’s important that they get a good latch for a minimum of 15 minutes for you to make sure that they are getting a good amount of milk that they need. Some babies are effortlessly on lock when they start to feed, they will stop once they are full or when mom’s breast runs out of milk, but for other babies, you need to closely monitor or else they will lose their position and not get the milk that they need.
- Look for the signs – Once your baby gets into its comfortable position and is ready to feed, you will see movements with his jaw and sometimes ears; you’ll even see or hear them swallow. It is also important to note that a deep latch is not painful or uncomfortable; it’s more of a tugging sensation. After your baby feeds, you might also want to check if they are producing enough wet diapers within the day to make sure that they are indeed taking in milk.
The sooner your latch is corrected, the better, both for you and your baby.
We might have focused mainly on your baby’s side in this article, but let’s not forget how having a lipstick nipple could cause a huge amount of pain to breastfeeding moms, but that will not stop them from feeding their babies, even if it means crying while their baby latches, the things we do for our little humans huh.
If all else fails, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor or your lactation consultant. Don’t prolong your pain and your baby’s possible lack of milk intake. Feel free to share your personal experience with us in the comment section below; we would love to hear and learn from another super mom! Stay healthy and happy!