First time parents are often surprised by the feeding noises that come with breastfeeding a baby. Breastfeeding and parenting books don’t usually mention the sounds, photos are silent and many expectant parents have never spent time with a breastfeed baby. So, what are the sounds of breastfeeding and what do they tell us?
In the first 3-5 days when mother’s milk volume is small to match baby’s tummy size, baby may suck several times before you hear a swallowing sound. As the milk volume increases , at the beginning of a feeding, baby will suck a number of times to trigger the milk ejection reflex and then will usually suck once or twice for each swallow.
A baby who is getting a good mouthful of milk with each suck makes a small grunting/gulping noise with swallow. Some people describe it as a “K-AH” sound. When the milk is letting down strongly, there is a suck, swallow, breath, suck, swallow, breath pattern that results in a rhythmic grunt/gulp.
Sometimes mum will hear a sound that is more like a click. Often babies who are clicking may also have noticeable dimples in their cheeks with each suck and mum may have sore nipples. These signs, together or individually, suggest that baby has not achieved a good latch. A click indicates that baby doesn’t have a good seal on the breast and his tongue hitting the roof of his mouth. The dimples (while cute) show that his latch isn’t deep enough and he doesn’t have adequate breast tissue in his mouth.
When you feel that baby hasn’t latched on well, it is important to deal with it right away. Unlatch baby from the breast by slipping a finger in the corner of her mouth to break the suction and try latching her on again. If the clicking, dimpling or sore nipples persist contact a La Leche League Leader or other breastfeeding supporter to review your latch. In most cases, an adjustment to the positioning fit between mum and baby quickly resolves the problem. Persistent soreness or poor latch may need further investigation to ensure baby doesn’t have a tongue or lip tie.
Sometimes mothers describe the sounds they are hearing as “it sounds like my milk is hitting the back of his throat” or “he sounds like he is drowning when my milk lets down”. Some mothers have a strong milk ejection reflex and baby can be getting a high volume of milk with each suck. A newborn may find this amount of milk hard to deal with and he may pull away from the breast when the flow is strongest. Adjusting your position so you are laying back and baby is on top of your breast can help him manage the milk flow better. This is another situation in which the help of a La Leche League Leader or other breastfeeding supporter can help you work out the best positioning for you and your baby.
The most important thing to remember when trying to decide if baby is latched on properly is that breastfeeding should not be painful. If you are experiencing nipple pain something is not right no matter how good the latch looks from the outside. The next thing to consider is whether baby is producing adequate wet and poopy diapers for his/her age and gaining weight appropriately . If you are pain free and baby is growing well then the noises of breastfeeding are just funny noises and you will probably learn to love them.
If you would like to hear some well latched baby breastfeeding sounds here is a YouTube video example:
- A good example of positioning and feeding sounds with an older baby can be seen here .
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