How to Get Your Baby to Unlatch Without Hurting You

Breastfeeding may be natural, but it doesn't always come easily to new moms. Getting the baby to latch on properly and then to release the nipple when he's done prevents injury to the nipple.

If breastfeeding causes pain, you may become fearful of nursing. As many as 80 to 90 percent of nursing moms experience some nipple pain, according to Le Leche League International. If you're not sure you're removing the baby correctly, ask a lactation consultant or your pediatrician.

Reasons for Breaking the Suction

Not all babies let go of the nipple when they're done nursing. Some keep sucking, using the breast as a pacifier, which is fine if you have nothing else to do that day. If you want to get up and do something not related to nursing, you have to force the issue by removing him.

If your baby doesn't latch on properly, you also need to detach him and start over. If you don't, your nipples will become very sore. Your baby also may not get the nutrition he needs if he's not properly latched on. If your baby consistently nurses for longer than 30 to 40 minutes, he may not have a good latch-on, the Ohio State University Medical Center website reports.

Use a Finger

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One of the easiest ways to break suction is to insert your finger -- your little finger is easiest to insert -- into the corner of the baby's mouth.

Put your finger between the gums and gently turn your finger about a quarter turn to break the suction. Pull gently toward the breast. Once you break the suction, quickly remove the nipple from the baby's mouth so he doesn't chomp back down on it.

A Little Chin Move

Some babies become wise to the finger-in-the-mouth trick and clamp down harder if you try to remove them before they want to be removed. In this case, pull down gently on the baby's chin to break the latch. When you pull down on his chin, his mouth opens and you can remove the nipple. You can also use this method if you'd rather not stick your finger into your baby's mouth.

Nipple Injury

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Injured nipples can become infected, which makes pain worse. If you develop a yeast infection, you can pass it to your baby, causing thrush in the mouth, which can make nursing painful for the baby. If your nipple becomes red or cracks, he's either not going on or coming off the breast correctly.

Sore nipples may heal best if you simply put a little breast milk on them. Warm compresses can also ease the pain.

Don't put drying agents on your sore nipples, since this can make them worse. See your doctor if you develop symptoms of an infected nipple of if your baby shows signs of thrush.