Here’s everything you need to know about lipstick nipple latch, why it should be corrected (and when it’s ok), plus 11 easy ways to fix it.
Breastfeeding can be challenging for the first time mom. And one of the most difficult aspects can be getting a good latch.
If you’re having issues with a proper latch, you’ll likely experience sore nipples and you may even develop open wounds. Another common side effect of improper latch is what’s referred to as lipstick nipple.
This is a condition where the nipple temporarily changes form during nursing because of misplaced pressure. The nipple will appear slanted or tapered like the tip of a newly opened lipstick tube.
While it’s a common occurrence, If you notice this nipple shape after a round of nursing, you’ll want to take steps to correct it. Doing so will help you avoid needless breastfeeding pain and prevent insufficient milk supply.
Luckily, there are easy things you can do to reverse and prevent lipstick nipple and each involves finding a proper latch. Below are 11 tips to fix a shallow latch, plus other helpful breastfeeding tips to nip lipstick nipple latch in the bud!
How to Fix Lipstick Nipple Latch
Regardless of what technique you use, the main focus should be encouraging your baby to get a deep latch. Each of the methods below or a combination of a few can help you correct lipstick nipple. Try what works best for you and your unique child.
If you have continued issues, be sure to speak to your pediatrician or a lactation consultant.
1. Unlatch and try again
If you feel discomfort when your baby latches or notice an irregular shape after a few minutes of nursing, unlatch and try again.
It’s okay to pull baby off the breast if you feel you have a bad latch (be sure to break the suction with your finger first). Your baby might get a little fussy, but it’s worth figuring out a better latch before continuing to feed.
2. Make sure baby’s mouth opens wide
A proper and comfortable latch happens when your baby’s mouth fully covers the nipple and areola and their lips are curled outward. Baby’s lips should not be secured around the base of the nipple. If you need to, gently pull baby’s chin down to encourage them to open wide.
Try to get your nipple to bypass your baby’s gums so you can alleviate excess pressure.
3. Aim your nipple to the roof of baby’s mouth
When your baby has a wide-open mouth (at least a 90 degree angle), point your nipple to their nose so it ends up near the roof of their mouth. This will help to bypass their gums and get more of your breast tissue into their mouth.
4. Focus on the lower lip
To avoid lipstick nipple latch, make sure baby’s lower lip is the first to make contact with the breast. Try to align their bottom lip with the edge of your areola, as far from the base of the nipple as possible. Then bring the rest of their mouth upward and onto the breast.
5. Make sure baby’s chin touches the breast
Tuck baby close to your body so their chin touches the breast. This helps them get more of the breast into their mouth. It’s okay if their nose touches your breast, too. Babies can breath around the sides of their nose.
6. Make a U shape to compress your breast
Cup your breast between your thumb and fingers to make a U shape. This will help your baby get more of your nipple and areola in their mouth. Over time, this can help correct lipstick nipple or prevent it from occurring.
7. Check baby’s body position
Make sure your baby’s body is supported and oriented correctly. Their shoulders, back, and neck should be in a straight line and they shouldn’t need to turn their neck to nurse.
8. Try a different feeding position
There are multiple positions that are effective for nursing a baby. You may need to try a few different options to find what’s best and most comfortable for you. A laid-back breastfeeding position or football hold can be especially helpful in preventing lipstick nipple latch.
9. Use a nursing pillow
You can also use a nursing pillow to help you try out different feeding positions. These pillows help to support baby’s weight and get them closer to the breast. A good nursing pillow will also alleviate back pain and excess strain on your body.
10. Make sure your baby doesn’t have a posterior tongue tie or lip tie
Your pediatrician should check your baby for a lip or tongue tie in early postnatal appointments. But, sometimes this can slip through the cracks. If you develop lipstick nipple and have repeated issues with getting a good latch, bring this to your pediatrician’s attention so they can check.
A tongue tie is where the strip of skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter than usual.
Babies with a tongue tie have an especially hard time with nursing and often have a lipstick nipple latch. Lip ties frequently accompany tongue ties, so check for that, too. This can occur in both the top lip and lower lip.
A pediatric dentist can correct these issues with a minimally invasive procedure when the baby is young.
11. Try using a nipple shield
A nipple shield can protect your breast and allow the lipstick shape to correct. If your baby has continued and consistent latching issues, use a shield to alleviate pressure and prevent further trauma to your nipple.
If you let improper latch continue you may experience several painful and even dangerous complications. Make proper latch a priority and seek help from a medical professional if you need additional support.
Here are several breastfeeding complications to keep an eye out for and treat immediately if they occur. However, some of these complications can happen even with proper latch.
- Cracked and Bleeding Nipples – While it’s normal to experience nipple sensitivity when first breastfeeding, soreness and cracked or bleeding nipples is not normal. These are sure signs of an improper latch. Breastfeeding should never be painful. If you experience pain, take steps to correct your baby’s latch or check for symptoms that could indicate the other complications below.
- Changes in Nipple Color – If you notice your nipple looks white after breastfeeding (also called blanching), this could indicate loss of blood supply. Your baby is likely applying too much pressure to your nipple and you need to adjust their latch.
- Nipple Blisters – These sores may look like a small, white or yellow pimple on the nipple and may indicate clogged milk ducts which can lead to mastitis. If you develop mastitis, you’ll need to take antibiotics to clear it up. Clogged ducts are common in early breastfeeding and are not always a sign of improper latch. Follow steps from these 20 things to know about breastfeeding to avoid and treat clogged ducts.
- Thrush – This is a yeast infection that can affect both you and your baby. You’ll need to consult with your doctor and use medicated creams for your breasts and an oral rinse for baby. Thrush is a common occurrence caused by an overgrowth of a type of fungus that lives in the digestive tract and on skin.
Should I stop breastfeeding?
If you have problems with improper latch, that’s not necessarily a sign that you should give up breastfeeding altogether. For most women, a little effort and trial and error will fix lipstick nipple latch and any other issues you may have. But, It’s important to remember that breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay.
If you have an especially hard time nursing or any physical limitation that makes it more difficult, know that it’s okay to seek other alternatives. What’s most important is that your baby is well-fed.
Work with your doctor to ensure your baby gets proper nutrition in whatever form that may be. You can try exclusively pumping, switching to formula, or consider purchasing breastmilk from another mother.
Do what’s best for your physical and mental health and what’s best for your baby.
Can you have lipstick nipple WITH a proper latch?
Sometimes! There are instances where you may notice lipstick nipple after a feeding, but it’s not due to improper latch and it’s no cause for concern.
The primary indictor of improper latch is pain and discomfort. If you have a normal feed where 98% of your feed is comfortable and baby seems to be getting plenty of milk, you likely have a good, deep latch and nothing to worry about.
Sometimes, at the end of a feed, baby can start to fall asleep and slide back on the nipple from their properly latched position. This added pressure, just at the tail end of their feed, can compress your nipple into the lipstick shape.
If this happens, there is nothing to worry about. Your baby doesn’t have lipstick nipple latch, they’re just being a sleepy eater! Considering following these proven newborn sleep tips to change your baby’s schedule so they’re more alert during feedings.
An improper latch can cause the nipple to look like the end of a newly opened lipstick after nursing. The misplaced pressure from your baby’s gums can compress the nipple, altering its shape.
Take steps to encourage a deeper more comfortable latch. This will help to avoid painful breastfeeding complications and decreased breastmilk supply.
Generally, yes. Lipstick nipple comes from a shallow latch where baby doesn’t have enough of the nipple and areola in their mouth. However, babies can sometimes cause lipstick nipple as they fall asleep on the breast.
You may have a proper latch throughout most of your feed, but end up with compressed nipples just from the tail end of nursing. If you have lipstick nipple and experience pain (sharp, stabbing, stinging) while you nurse, you have an improper latch.
Here are a few ways to get your baby to have a deeper latch:
-Make sure their mouth is opened wide (at least a 90 degree angle).
-Secure their bottom lip to the breast far away from the base of the nipple and guide the nipple past baby’s gums to the roof of the mouth.
-Make sure baby is properly supported and try different feeding positions to help them take more of the breast.
Speak with a pediatrician or lactation consultant if issues persist.
If this information was helpful to you, check out these additional breastfeeding resources and tips for new moms:
- Must-Have Breastfeeding Essentials
- Important Newborn Baby Items
- How to Deal with Postpartum Body Changes
- Genius Newborn Baby Hacks
Did you learn anything new about lipstick nipple latch? Is there any information you think I should add?
Let me know in the comments!