What follows is my advice and opinion on “Nipple Confusion”. This may not be suitable for all families and all situations as every child and family varies. I can assure though, that the messaging works for ALL families.
Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way. I am not a doctor, lactation consultant or nurse. I am not a nutrition expert or a dentist. I am a Mother. I am a stubborn, strong-willed and independent woman. What follows is my advice and opinion on “Nipple Confusion”. This may not be suitable for all families and all situations as every child and family varies. I can assure though, that the messaging works for ALL families.
As you may have read in my post about Gender Disappointment, we were induced and laboured for 16 hours before a c-section. We spent 5 days in the hospital. As new parents, we were over joyed with our tiny bundle. We had brought a soother with us in our bags. There were so many things we didn’t know about. Our strong-headed daughter latched well and appeared to be nursing, but had a hard time settling. Daddy tried the soother, she latched onto it and seemed to settle after a while. At the end of each day, the nurses asked us if we wanted her “topped up” with formula. What did that mean? Why does she need that? We said no as we felt she had been feeding well.
On the fourth day, we were told she had lost a bunch of weight and likely had not been getting enough milk. The nurses felt that the medication from the c-section and induction had delayed my milk coming in. WHO KNEW!? I sure did not. We had no idea that they had been asking us about formula top-ups because baby was not getting enough to eat. No wonder she went after that soother!
We started combination feeding her. Formula and breastfeeding. Success – weight gain! Truly this is the ultimate goal with all babies. I was utterly exhausted our first night home from the hospital, it had been a crazy week. Thankfully, Daddy could help with feeding a bottle at midnight and I could go to bed at 10pm. We visited with my OB/GYN for our follow-up. She was AMAZING and absolutely instrumental to our feeding strategy. I am forever grateful for this woman and her calm, level-headed advice.
Whatever you choose to do, your body will support your routine. Just be consistent.
What? Breastfeed and bottle feed and the universe won’t collapse around us? IMPOSSIBLE! But, think about it. Makes perfect sense. The female body is an absolutely amazing thing. Your body will produce what you need. If we stuck to the same feeding routine, the milk I needed would be available when I needed it. This is probably the same way a Mother of twins can produce enough milk for two babies. We grabbed hold of this advice and ran with it.
We stuck with the last meal before bed is formula and breast milk the rest of the day and through the night if she woke up. Consistency. We stuck with the plan. There was never a moment when one type of feeding was refused or preferred. We were lucky this worked. We could confidently separate from our daughter and leave a bottle with someone and go to a movie, and we DID.
I should mention, my incision opened and became infected. I had to take antibiotics. I was EXTREMELY grateful for our daughter accepting a bottle, there was nothing I could do about her having to have one, for a little while. Also, I would like to say, I tried pumping after nursing. It was just not my thing. HUGE kudos to you pumping Mamas. You are a whole other breed of incredible woman. I know so many Moms who had to nurse, then pump, then bottle feed and start all over. I bow to you completely. You are the SUPER WOMEN.
Soother use also continued, not as much in the first little bit, but as she got bigger, we kept at it. I am a soother-supporter to a point. I prefer soother to thumbs, after-all you can’t take away a thumb. We transitioned from soothers before 2 and our dentist reports she sees no signs that our daughter ever had one. We also discourage talking with it in your mouth – people just won’t hear your message.
Fast forward… introducing daughter number 2…
Armed with our previous knowledge of possible milk delay and combination feeding strategy, we navigated a second c-section and were home within 48 hours. We had our second daughter at a different hospital. We initiated the request for formula top-ups. We were met with resistance and forms to sign. This very pro-breastfeeding hospital had us sign a waiver that we understood “breast was best” but we were doing formula anyway. Here-in lies the problem. We, as parents, should not be judged or looked down upon for our nourishment choices. It is no one’s business why we choose what we choose or what works for our family. We signed the forms, fed our daughter the formula, breastfed her and gave her a soother. Neither of our girls ever seemed to scratch their heads and seem “confused” by the variety of nipples.
Both of our daughters are healthy, happy and strong. They have great immune systems and are super smart. They eat, sleep, talk, play and love A LOT! They are well-rounded, triple-nipple surviving individuals. They are living examples of sticking to your parenting guns. With the advice from my OB/GYN to be consistent in what we do, we can tackle anything.
IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOU CHOOSE!
Whatever decision you make, there will be arguments for and against. Thanks Internet for giving voices to all the unsupportive people out there. I know that combinations of all nipples is not for all families, but I support you in your choice. I do know that the message BE CONSISTENT – will work when it comes to babies and children, and not just for feeding.
Here are some links to other articles on Nipple Confusion: