Lipstick Nipple Latch: Cause and How To Correct Baby Latch

If you are experiencing compressed and angled nipples, resembling a tube of lipstick, while nursing or after, it is referred to as a lipstick nipple latch.

This results from an improper latch and can occur with or without pain. Correcting your baby’s latch should solve the problem.

To help correct your baby’s latch, the Office on Women’s Health offers these tips:

  • Tickle the baby’s lips with your nipple to encourage him or her to open wide.
  • Pull your baby close so that the baby’s chin and lower jaw moves in to your breast.
  • Watch the baby’s lower lip and aim it as far from the base of the nipple as possible so that the baby takes a large mouthful of breast.

How To Correct & Avoid Lipstick Nipple

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid lipstick nipple. Once you notice it’s an issue, you can help your baby latch properly and soon see signs of change.

  1. Rule out any medical issues, such as tongue-tie, that could be impacting your baby’s latch.
  2. If you notice lipstick nipple latch, gently remove your baby from the breast using your finger, and help him latch properly. 
  3. Gently place pressure on your baby’s chin to encourage him to open his mouth wide. 
  4. Aim your nipple past the gums and toward the roof of your baby’s mouth. 
  5. Have your baby’s lower lip be first to touch your breast at the base of your areola.
  6. Guide the rest of your baby’s mouth over your areola.
  7. Ensure your baby’s chin is touching your breast and the lips are curling outward as opposed to inward.
  8. Switch up your baby’s nursing position. It’s easier for some babies to latch in a football hold as opposed to a cradle hold. Experiment until you find what works.
  9. Try a nursing prop, like a nursing pillow or boppy (this one worked for me). When used properly, these can take weight off your arms and keep you from letting your baby pull down on your nipple while nursing. 
  10. Reach out to a lactation specialist. They have amazing tips to help your baby latch and may recommend using a nipple shield.

Lipstick Nipple When Breastfeeding

Your nipple should not look like lipstick when breastfeeding.

If it does, that means your baby isn’t latching properly and the latch isn’t secure or deep enough to boost your milk supply or keep your baby full. 

Lipstick nipple is common because helping your baby latch properly can be difficult.

Many moms assume that as long as their baby latches and they aren’t feeling an abundance of pain while nursing, everything is fine.

However, evidence of lipstick nipple proves it’s not.

Your child should be securely latched to your entire areola, not just the nipple.

Lipstick nipple is not permanent. Your nipples will go back to their normal shape after a period of time.

However, your breasts and nipples may look different after breastfeeding for months or years, and that’s perfectly normal even if you do have your baby latched properly.

Why It Happens

Lipstick nipple happens when your baby’s latch isn’t secure enough.

They aren’t latched to your whole areola, so the weak, shallow latch leaves your nipple uneven and slanted.

It can also leave your baby feeling hungry after a feed, and your milk supply may suffer.

Is Lipstick Nipple Latch a Sign of Baby Tongue-Tie?

Lipstick nipple latch can be a sign of baby tongue-tie. Though it’s not the only reason this type of latch occurs, it’s worth talking to your child’s pediatrician if you always have lipstick nipple during or after nursing.

The doctor can check for a tongue-tie and help correct it so your baby can latch properly with ease.

Associated Pain

While you can experience pain with lipstick nipple, you won’t always.

Whether or not you have pain, you need to take steps to remedy the situation so your baby gains the proper amount of weight and you don’t end up with a low milk supply or clogged milk ducts. 

Short-Term Impacts

  • An improper latch can cause nipple soreness, discomfort, and pain during and after breastfeeding sessions.
  • An incorrect latch may lead to inefficient milk intake during breastfeeding, potentially leading to poor weight gain and growth.
  • Both the mother and baby may experience frustration and stress due to difficulties in breastfeeding, which can impact the overall breastfeeding experience.

Long-Term Impacts

  • Prolonged improper latch can lead to more severe nipple damage, such as cracks or fissures, which may require time to heal.
  • In some cases, ongoing issues with latching can contribute to a decrease in milk supply over the long term.
  • Persistent problems with latching can result in ongoing challenges with breastfeeding, potentially leading to the use of alternative feeding methods.
  • Long-term difficulties with breastfeeding can have emotional implications for both the mother and baby. It may affect the bonding experience and create stress or feelings of inadequacy.

Lipstick Nipple With a Good Latch

Although lipstick nipple is most often the result of a shallow latch, it can occur even when your baby is latched properly. 

If your little one dozes off toward the end of feeding or is interrupted mid-feed, his latch may slip further down your nipple, applying excess pressure on the nipple and resulting in that tapered lipstick look.

What a Nipple Should Look Like After Nursing

Basically, your nipple should not look like a lipstick tube after nursing. It should look the same way it did before nursing, though it may appear fuller.

If it’s compressed or smashed, that means your baby only latched to the nipple and not your entire areola. This is not a good latch.

What a Good Latch Should Feel Like

A good latch should definitely not hurt and shouldn’t really even be uncomfortable.

When your baby is latched properly, it should feel like your entire nipple is in his mouth with his chin against your breast.

The movement of milk will be consistent, and your child will be swallowing contentedly instead of being agitated because he can’t get enough milk.

Lipstick Nipple After Pumping

You can experience lipstick nipple after pumping.

The reason for this is that pressure on your breast during pumping isn’t balanced, meaning the breast shields are basically not on properly.

You can avoid this by turning off your pump and making sure you have the right size attachments for your breast size.

You can also change the pressure of the pump, possibly turning it down a notch.

It’s also important to center the breast shields and make sure they aren’t lopsided on either breast.

If you notice your nipple is pulling with each tug of the breast pump, you need to readjust so milk is being drawn from your entire areola.

Common Signs of an Incorrect Latch When Breastfeeding

A correct latch is crucial for successful breastfeeding, and an incorrect latch can lead to discomfort for the mother and difficulty for the baby in obtaining enough milk.

Here are some common signs of an incorrect latch:

  • Painful breastfeeding: Pain can indicate that your baby isn’t latched on properly, and their sucking may be causing discomfort or even damage to your nipples.
  • Shallow latch: If the latch is shallow and the baby is mainly sucking on the nipple, it can lead to nipple pain and may result in insufficient milk transfer.
  • Lip flanging: Your baby’s lips should be flanged outward, not tucked in.
  • Clicking sounds: Clicking or smacking sounds during breastfeeding can be a sign that the baby is not maintaining a secure latch. 
  • Frequent feeding or inadequate weight gain: If your baby is not gaining weight adequately or seems hungry all the time, it could be due to an inefficient latch. 
  • Engorgement and plugged ducts: An incorrect latch may prevent your baby from effectively draining the breast, leading to engorgement and potentially plugged milk ducts. This can be painful and may increase the risk of mastitis.