Anybody else look forward to Shark Week on Discovery Channel every summer? I certainly do! One thing I do not look forward to is my tiny, adorable pint size shark who occasionally bites me while nursing. Not. a. fan. at. all.
Biting is one of the not so fun parts of nursing and it can come and go in phases. Most times it is caused by baby trying to relieve teething pain but can also happen for other reasons such as overactive letdown.
- Try not to overreact: Hah, I know. Easier said than done right? I've personally never mastered this one. Trying to stay calm and collected when someone bites your nipple is NOT easy. Thankfully, I have a baby that didn't find me screaming funny at all (actually quite the opposite). But many babies will and it will make them want to keep biting you for the reaction. Or it could scare them and cause a nursing strike. Both bad options. So try to stay calm in the moment!
- Watch for signs that baby is about to bite: Many babies will bite at the end of a nursing session when they've stopped actively nursing. Watch your baby for signs that they are done and their jaw might start closing a bit.
- Push baby into your breast: If baby is biting and won't let go, it's best not to yank their nipple out of their mouth...OUCH! Instead, push them into your breast which will force them to unlatch.
- Relieve teething pain in other ways: It helps to fix the root of the problem instead of the problem itself. Try giving baby a cold cloth or teether before a nursing session to numb their gums. Or a teething necklace to chew on before works great too!
- Take a break from the nursing session: The most effective way to stop biting is to gently and calmly end the nursing session when biting occurs. Remove baby from the breast and tell them "biting hurts mommy and we don't nurse when you bite" or something along those lines. This is also a great time to give baby a cold teether. If baby is upset and still wants to nurse, wait a few moments before trying again.
If you've got a little shark biter on your hands, it does NOT mean you need to wean. It is a normal phase that you can work through and it will pass!