I got an email from Courtney, our Lactation Educator here at Mummies Nummies. Here is her situation:
Hey! Ok, so the educator needs a teacher:) I have a nursing question. "Squish" (oldest son) never nursed, he just took bottles that I pumped so I never had to address the "problem" of nursing a child with teeth. "Bear" (current Nummie Lover) is still going strong, which I couldn't be happier about, except that it's starting to hurt. He isn't biting me, but it hurts while he's nursing and I have teeth marks when he's done. It could be the way he's latched, but in my line of work I deal with newborns so I haven't addressed a lot of toddler latch issues. Have you had this problem, and if so is there a way to fix it? Or do we just grin and bear is, as mothers do with so many other things:)
First off... I want to mention that I LOVE her first comment..... "Ok, so the educator needs a teacher:)"
What a wonderful comment! Just goes to show that we all need some help once in a while!
So here is what I think...
My first thought was that his latch is not correct. I have not had this problem myself, but I have had to deal with biters when they first got their teeth. The best way that I found was to un latch them and firmly say "no." Luckily for us, that worked. But to me.... a latch problem could be treated the same way.
I also found this forum, at La Leche League International. It seems to be addressing the same issue as Courtney.
Here is this Mummie's situation:
I love breastfeeding my toddler, but lately, it hurts! It seems to be something about her suck. She doesn't nurse often, but when she does, she is really insistent about it. I had the same problem with my older son, but then I thought it was because I was pregnant. I know I'm not pregnant now, but breastfeeding sets my teeth on edge, almost like fingernails on a chalkboard. I will have her latch on several times in an effort to make it more comfortable. We've enjoyed a wonderful breastfeeding experience, but I'm starting to dread it when she gets that look in her eye. Does anyone have any ideas about what could be causing my discomfort or about how to cope?
I came across this response and thought it was wonderful:
Nursing a toddler can be really different from nursing an infant. I have nursed four children into toddler hood, and at times, I have had that antsy, I-just-want-to-get-away feeling during nursing sessions. Sometimes toddlers change the way they suck, maybe because their mouth is getting bigger (and your breast probably isn't!). If your toddler's latch is painful, check for teeth marks or blanching of the tissue. If there appears to be damage, then her latch does need to be adjusted. Changing positions might help, especially if she tends to move around. Changing the places where you nurse might also be necessary. Even in your favorite chair, your toddler might not fit in your lap the way she did when she was smaller.
If there doesn't appear to be any physical damage, try distraction. I have had good luck with this-for myself, not the toddler. Making sure I have a book to read or something else to do while nursing helps to keep me from focusing on the sensations that are annoying. Reminding myself of the reasons that I am choosing to continue breastfeeding this still very little person helps me to adjust my attitude and stay positive.
As babies move into toddler hood, we also set more limits for them. Often, a quick nursing, say the length of a familiar song, is enough for them to feel connected and is easier for mother to cope with. I have been known to tell an older toddler that I just can't breastfeed any longer right now, but I'd be happy to try again in a little while. I think nurslings understand mothers' feelings in an intuitive way, and they are more cooperative when mothers are honest, but clear and firm.
Remember, just as you think you're stuck in this stage forever, and you can't stand it any longer, your child gets a little bit older, and everything changes. Good luck finding a solution that works for you and your toddler!
We all know that breastfeeding a baby and even a toddler can be stressful...... but it helps when we are able to face an issue with a plan and have support while doing it!
Do you have any tips for Courtney and other Mummies in her situation?