Biting during Breastfeeding: Tips and Advice from a Doula

So you’ve made it this far, way to go! You’ve overcome the sleepless nights, the tender nipples, the cluster feeds, and any other challenges that your milk-filled, leaky breasts have presented to you. Everything is going well, you and your baby have figured each other out, and then it happens. You are happily nursing when you feel the most unbelievable pain! You swear your entire nipple is gone.

The truth is, it may or may not happen to you. But if it does, know that biting does not need to be your reason to stop breastfeeding. There are many things that you can do to protect your supply, end the biting, and thereby continue nursing your precious baby. The following are tips you can try if you experience biting during breastfeeding.

1. Be mindful of your tone: High-pitched tones are associated with positive emotions while lower tones are associated with negative emotions. Listen to your tone of voice when you are happy versus when you are not; I promise you will notice the difference. And so will your baby. Your tone of voice must match the words you are speaking.

2. Speak firmly: You would not sweetly tell your child not to run in front of an oncoming car, you would sternly yell NO, STOP! Now, I’m not telling you to yell at your baby, instead, speak firmly and sternly and raise your voice slightly if needed (which will likely be one of your first reactions anyways). Your baby will know you mean business.

3. Pull baby into breast: It sounds mean, but keep in mind that it will only last a second… and babies are much tougher than we give them credit for. When your baby bites, pull his/her face into your breast immediately. Your baby will associate this sense of panic with the biting. 

4. Do not reward: Continuing to nurse immediately after your baby has bit will send the message that what he/she did was okay. Taking away the food temporarily will tell baby that it is not okay for he/she to bite you. Continue your next feeding as normal.

5. Unlatch when finished feeding or falling asleep: Sometimes your baby will remain on the breast even after he/she has finished feeding. This is a good time for baby to bite as he/she is simply playing around and experimenting. When baby is biting, he/she is not latched correctly, which explains why your baby may bite as they fall asleep.