Ah, the joys of motherhood. The snuggles, the coos, and of course the constant questioning of whether your baby is truly nursing or just using you as a pacifier.
Let's be real - sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference. But fear not! With this guide, you'll become an expert at deciphering between nursing and pacifying in no time.
The Basics: What's the Difference?
First things first - let's define our terms. Nursing is when your baby actively drinks milk from your breast, while pacifying is when they suck but aren't actually drinking any milk.
It's important to note that both are completely normal and natural behaviors for babies. Pacifying can help soothe a fussy or gassy baby, while nursing provides essential nutrients for their growth and development.
So how do you know which one your little one is doing? Let's dive in.
Signs You're Dealing with a Little Pacifier
The Suckling Sounds More Like Chewing
If your baby seems like they're constantly chewing on something instead of rhythmically sucking, chances are they're using you as a human pacifier. When babies nurse efficiently, their movements should be more deliberate and coordinated than what we see during non-nutritive sucking sessions (aka "comfort" nursing).
Your Breasts Aren't Draining Completely
When babies are effectively removing milk during breastfeeding sessions (rather than just comfort sucking), breasts will feel softer after feedings due to having less engorgement (breast tissue swelling) compared to after feedings where only comfort nursing occurred. One easy way to check if there’s anything left in there that needs removal by active feeding is through pumping post-partum—when I did this most life-changing practice myself three years ago—it also changes up lactation for one's individual experience.
Your Little One Keeps Falling Asleep
There are times when life is so exhausting that it’s hard to make the best efforts in every area, let alone at home. But if your newborn keeps drifting off while feeding then socializing and not actually drinking for prolonged periods of time, they’re more than likely doing a lot of pacifying rather than nursing.
They're Not Eating Very Often or for Long
If you've noticed your little one isn't showing hunger as frequently over multiple sessions throughout the day and/or despite having wet diapers absorbing liquids made by their intake then that could be a red flag indicating they aren't getting enough sustenance from nursing - again but just repeatedly expressing interest in recreating such suction behaviors with momma because those really increase oxytocin bonds!
Getting Back on Track: Encouraging Proper Nursing
So what do you do if you suspect your baby is using you more as a human pacifier than an actual source of nourishment? Here are some tips to get back on track:
Try Different Positions:
Experiment with different breastfeeding positions! Laidback/lateral breastfeeding specifically known as biological nurturing position where there isn’t any need for overt assistance—it makes everything easier on both parties involved. This allows gravity to help milk flow and encourages babies to engage fully during feeding sessions through natural body communication.
Gently massaging or compressing (squeezing) the breast can encourage milk letdown (release) and stimulate suckling reflexes.
Take short breaks during feedings instead of letting the baby use non-nutritive sucking bouts; given them something new like playing pat-a-cake along with rhythmic bouncing —this helps ensure they're actively drinking when latching on rather than just pacifying.
Pacifiers Warnings & Socialization After Weaning Risks
Introducing a pacifier is always an option, but be aware that it could impact breastfeeding. Studies have shown that giving a baby a pacifier before they're 4 weeks old can decrease how much milk they take at each feeding and overall throughout the day; also serious long-term risks from extended use of Oral mucosal implications that include palatal deformities, dental malocclusion such as open bite or overbite development and even some changes in facial structure! Research shows prolonged usage after weaning months increases these occurrences exponentially too - so field trips with kiddos to top pediatric dentists won't become necessary later on down the road.
Finding the Balance
Remember – nursing and pacifying both serve important roles for your little one's development. Striking a balance between them can ensure your baby gets all the nourishment (and snuggles) they need while allowing you time to relax without fear of exhaustion through constant non-nutritive sucking bouts!
- Lactation cooling pads
- Breastfeeding pillow
- Nursing-friendly lounge-wear
So go ahead mama, kick back and enjoy those bonding moments with your little one! You've got this.