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Thread: nipple confusion

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default nipple confusion

    Due to separation from my lo at night for 5-6 hours, we've been supplementing formula at night. I am now pumping and building a freezer stash & my goal is to switch to EBF for his night bottles very soon.

    We are having a problem with nipple confusion--he now only nurses "fuss-free" first thing in the morning when my milk is super abundant & easy to get. As the day wears on, he is less and less willing to "work" at the breast & I end up with a screaming frustrated lo & I turn to a bottle of formula.

    My supply is adequate--if I do give him a bottle for the feeding, I go ahead and pump.

    How do you get baby to prefer the breast to the bottle without getting him totally frustrated?

    I use the "slow flow" nipples with the Playtex drop-ins system--are there better, slower nipples out there?>

    my lo is 6 weeks old

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Default Re: nipple confusion

    Hi liebchen77 -- I remember reading some of your earlier posts, and I understand that a nightly medication makes it necessary for you to be sleeping and separated from your baby for that 5-6 hour nightly stretch. I think it's wonderful that you, your DH, and your baby son are all working as a team to support your breastfeeding and your other health needs. We'll try to help you figure out this latest challenge.

    A baby who has developed a preference for the faster/easier flow of milk from a bottle nipple can get really frustrated with breastfeeding. What we usually suggest in this situation is that the mother stop offering all artificial nipples, so that the baby must satisfy his sucking needs at the breast. Since your husband needs a way to offer those nightly feeds, you might consider other "delivery" methods, such as a syringe or a finger-feeding system. A local IBCLC should be able to help set you up with the necessary equipment.

    There may be slower-flow nipples available; I can't recommend a particular type, but if you post that specific question on the infant breastfeeding board, you'll probably get responses. I have also heard that it is wise to replace the slow-flow nipples with new ones every so often, as the holes tend to expand with use.

    For the daytime feeds, when you are with him and he begins to fuss and refuse the breast ... I do understand how hard it is to struggle with a screaming, frustrated, non-nursing infant, and of course you have to do what you feel is best for your baby and your breastfeeding relationship. But it is important that you understand that every bottle of formula is both reinforcing his nipple/flow preference AND undermining your efforts to protect your milk supply.

    It is true that your milk output will naturally be a bit lower later in the day. This is also the time of day when young infants are commonly fussier and nurse more frequently. When you add in concerns about having enough milk, nipple-confusion, and the stress of struggling to nurse a screaming frustrated baby, this can compound the problem, as stress and tension may interfere with your milk letdown reflex.

    One way to approach this, therefore, is to try to counteract some of the stressors. Could you try spending the whole afternoon/evening relaxing in bed with your baby, just cuddling skin-to-skin? Keep your son in just a diaper, and nestle him on your bare chest. Let him hang out there and be very relaxed and non-pressured about nursing. If he has easy, immediate access to the breast anytime he feels like nursing, and if you are also as relaxed as can be, that might defuse some of the frustration and slow-letdown or slow-flow issues.

    My next comment may sound very harsh, but it is meant to support your desire to reach your next breastfeeding goal of three months: There is no law that says you have to fix a bottle every time your nursling gets upset at the breast. You can soothe him and comfort him and try nursing again a bit later when he is more receptive. Watch his diaper output to reassure yourself that he is not getting dehydrated (minimum 6-8 wets per 24-hour period). Over time, if you are consistent, he will learn that when he's with Momma, the food comes from the breasts.

    How do these ideas strike you? Good luck and keep us posted!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Re: nipple confusion

    Thanks, Rebecca! That's what I needed to know--that I could allow him to fuss without him starving or getting dehydrated. When he starts getting so frustrated, I just feel so helpless & I go for the bottle very quickly. I think that I'll go ahead and invest in a Haberman (sp?) feeder for the night feedings. I am having sucess with pumping & freezing a stash, and I'm working to pump enough during the day for fresh night feedings. I'm also going to try a "nursing vacation" this week--just hanging out with him in bed.

    I'll keep you posted!

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