Breastfeeding and Teething

Posted by on Sep 10, 2010 in Breast Feeding - Before Delivery | 2 comments

Breastfeeding and Teething

Breastfeeding and Teething

If you have been breastfeeding your baby, you know it is a great bonding experience, but also comes with some problems. Some people overcome issues gracefully and quickly while others struggle. One problem that most face if they breastfeed for more than three or four months is dealing with teething. When baby has painful teeth coming in and they are always looking for a way to stop that pain, your tender breasts could become a target if you do not know what is going on and what you should do if they do decide to take a bite out of you. You do not have to quit breastfeeding your child just because they have decided to bite.

One thing all mothers should remember about getting bit when they are breastfeeding is that if the baby is able to bite you, they are not latched on correctly and they are not feeding. They may be just messing around with some random suckling or looking for a way to get your attention because they are in pain. According to the La Leche League, this is normal for babies at teething age. Their web site says, “When your baby is latched on correctly and nursing actively, getting milk from your breast and swallowing, it’s physically impossible to bite. This is because your baby needs to stop sucking in order to bite. When latched on properly and nursing, your nipple is far back in your baby’s mouth. In order to bite your baby has to adjust his tongue and allow your nipple to slide forward towards his teeth.”

In other words, any baby that is actively eating will not be able to bite you so you can relax. When they seem to let go of a nipple a bit, you may be in for some nibbling if not a downright hard bite. Teething hurts babies a lot, and they do get some measure of relief from biting down on anything they can get their little hands on. That is why frozen teething rings are so popular. When they have been feeding and pain strikes, your breast is a very convenient thing to bite as it is already right there.

Some experts warn that if you startle too much, baby may refuse to feed for a while. This happens with very sensitive babies. They do not like the negative reaction from you and they will then decide they do not want to eat at all. Instead of jumping and pulling baby away from the breast, those at suggest the following: “You do not want to pull him off your breast, although that is your natural reaction. Instead, pull him in close to you. His nose will be pressed against your breast and he will open his mouth so he can breathe. This is better than pulling him off, because then the nipple is stretched out while he is clamping down on it, and you may cause more pain and damage to the tissue than the bite itself. You can also slip your finger in between his gums or teeth to get him to open his mouth and let go of the nipple.”

Though you may not know when baby is going to bite, there are some signs that you can look for that indicate that teething is underway. Once you know baby is teething, you can take measures to make sure baby does not bite you – though it may be impossible to stop them from doing it at least once or twice. Heidi Murkoff of the What To Expect series lists possible symptoms or signs that baby is about to or has started teething. These include drooling, rash on the face near the mouth, coughing, biting, pain, irritability, refusal to eat, diarrhea, low grade fever, wakefulness, gum hematoma, and ear and/or cheek pulling.

Once teething symptoms appear, remember to keep an eye on baby to see when they are relaxing on the nipple or being distracted. If baby is not actively suckling in the correct latch on position, you may be in for a bite if they are seeking relief. If they seem to be looking around a lot or are distracted by others quite easily, they may be near the end of their feeding as well. That is prime time for you to get bit. Once it appears they are done, ease them from your nipple. If they do not protest the feeding is done and no biting has to occur, at least that time. Remember the temperament of your baby when choosing your course of action when they do bite so that you don’t have a baby on hunger strike and don’t feel as if you have to stop breastfeeding if you do not want to.


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