When you're preparing to breastfeed your baby, one of the things that you'll frequently read about is nipple confusion and artificial nipples. Nipple confusion can be a HUGE factor to the success of your breastfeeding journey and should not be taken lightly if you are hoping to nurse your baby frequently.
Why You Should Avoid Artificial Nipples
Artificial nipples are any other type of nipple other than the mother's breast; mainly coming from a bottle or pacifier. While many new mothers register for cute noopies with monogrammed pacifier straps and beautiful bottles, the use of both of these items should be avoided for quite some time.
When a baby latches on to their mother's breast, there is a different sucking motion that takes place compared to when a baby feeds from a bottle. In many cases the bottle is easier for a baby to get the milk out, especially in the beginning. Pacifiers are used solely for their namesake -- to pacify. Both bottles and pacifiers can cause a huge threat to your breastfeeding success if introduced too early to your baby. If a baby prefers the flow and ease of the bottle nipple, then there is a chance that they will prefer this over the mother's breast. This can result in a baby who eventually is not anxious to nurse.
When Baby Prefers Artificial Nipples
The problem with a baby, who rejects the breast in favor of the bottle, is that they may hurt the mother's supply by not nursing enough. While pumping is a great way to get mother's milk to baby, a baby can extract more milk than a pump can. Some women may see a dip in milk production if the baby is not feeding enough and emptying the breasts as they should. On the other hand though, if a mother pumps frequently enough she should be able to keep up with her growing baby. Whether you are pumping or nursing, both take a lot of effort to maintain a supply. Having a baby who frequently nurses helps to not only bring milk in during those first few days, but also to keep the supply up and steadily increasing.
Another reason why breast rejection due to the early use of artificial nipples harmful is because of the emotional side of it. Having a baby reject your breast can be a heartbreaking moment and can cause a lot of emotional distress and frustration for the mother who was desperately hoping to nurse her child frequently and for a certain period of time.
When You Should Introduce Artificial Nipples
Most breastfeeding literature and experts recommend waiting four to six weeks before introducing an artificial nipple. For most mothers, this should be at your discretion and should be based on whether or not you are experiencing breastfeeding success. If your baby is nursing wonderfully and has no problems latching on, you can start with a pacifier and then eventually work in a bottle. Make sure not to introduce the bottle terribly late because then there is a chance the baby will never take the bottle; leaving mother as the only source of food (this is okay for some mamas, bad for working mamas).
For best results, try to have daddy or grandma feed the first few bottles while you are out of the room. This will make the experience much more successful and less confusing for the baby. If you are in the room while the baby is feeding, there is a chance that they may smell you and become confused as to why they are getting milk from a bottle rather than your breast. This tactic will show them that when mama is not around, they can still eat. Also, try to search for bottles with a natural flow and natural shape to match a mother's nipple (there are many, many brands out there). Eventually mama should be able to give baby a bottle herself as well. The beauty of all of this (as exhausting as it can be to delay bottles) is that you and your nursling should still have a beautiful breastfeeding relationship!
What was your experience with a bottle and/or pacifier?
We cracked down and did a noopie at two weeks. Daddy gave the first bottle at five weeks
and I didn't give a bottle until several weeks after that. We were blessed with
a great transition between bottle and breast (she actually rejected the bottle a few times).
Thanks for reading, Sasha