What You Need To Know About Suck Blisters

What is a Suck Blister?

Suck blisters form on your baby’s lips due to friction from breastfeeding. To effectively transfer milk, your baby must create a proper seal when latching onto the breast. A deep latch involves relaxed and flanged lips, which allow a large portion of the areola tissue to enter the baby’s mouth. When your baby incorrectly uses their lips to hold onto the breast, suck blisters can develop.

These blisters can appear on the top and bottom lips, either in one spot or spanning the entire lip length. The affected skin may look two-toned or swollen. Suck blisters often indicate a deeper issue that needs addressing (the blister is the symptom, not the cause.)

Causes of Suck Blisters

Oral Restrictions: These can prevent your baby’s lips from flanging wide around your breast, causing them to compensate correct feeding muscles and leading to suck blisters.

Body Tension: Tension in your baby’s body can make it difficult for them to achieve a deep latch. Premature babies are more prone to suck blisters as they haven’t fully developed an effective suck-swallow pattern or the muscle strength needed for a deep latch.

Cranial Nerve Dysfunction: This can disrupt the communication between your baby’s nerves and muscles, interfering with their ability to feed properly.

It’s important to understand that muscles influence the growth of facial and jaw bones. Restrictions from oral ties and body tension can limit a muscle’s range of motion. Over time, an incorrect latch can cause noticeable differences in jaw growth, leading to further complications.

How to Resolve Suck Blisters

Bodywork: Bodywork can be highly beneficial for infants with body tension. Feeding is a full-body activity, and if your baby isn’t using every muscle as intended, they may show symptoms such as suck blisters. Bodywork helps your baby become more comfortable in their body, making feeding more manageable and more effective.

Positioning & Latch: Proper positioning during feeds is crucial. Ensure you align yourself to provide your baby with maximum stability. Laid-back breastfeeding is particularly effective as it allows your baby to control the pace of feeding and achieve a better latch. During the latching process, ensure your baby’s neck can move freely in all directions. A good position and latch help your baby use their whole body to feed, not just their lips.

Release Procedure: Various factors can contribute to feeding difficulties and suck blisters, with a restricted frenulum being just one. If your provider recommends a release procedure, work with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) on muscle exercises before the procedure. These exercises target unused muscles and relax overused ones, ensuring greater success during and after the release.

If you notice your baby developing suck blisters or have concerns about their latch, our IBCLCs are here to offer personalized support and guidance. Remember, the symptoms always point to the causes, so if your baby is showing symptoms of ineffective feeding, it’s always helpful to meet with a team of professionals who can help you identify the root issues!

Your and your child’s unique feeding journey is always our top priority, and our team will be there for you every step of the way.