Do you know that the texture of the teat and flow of the milk during bottle feeding or while using a nipple shield is usually quite different from the way your breastmilk flows from your own nipple during breastfeeding?
Your baby will have to do a bit more work in sucking to get milk out at the same quantity and speed when feeding directly from you. Shields are usually introduced to help breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples or dealing with nipples sores which make breastfeeding painful.
As a result, babies on the bottle or using a shield tend to get frustrated whenever they are breastfed. They may eventually lose interest in direct breastfeeding. This is called nipple confusion.
We can avoid nipple confusion by :
- Making sure proper latching and direct breastfeeding your baby is fully established before introducing a bottle/shield. This also one of the steps to ensuring your baby gets enough milk.
- Always check that you are using the right teat for your baby’s age. As your baby gets older, the number of holes in the teat of the bottle increase from 1 to 3 and so on. A 3 week old has no business with a teat that has 3 holes.
If nipple confusion already exists consider…
- Ensuring you feed baby on demand… follow baby’s early hunger cues and not the clock.
- Consider pumping or hand expressing before putting your baby to breast to encourage milk let down . Milk let down is the initial flow of milk. This way, your baby does less work to suckle.
Dear Mama, not being able to breastfeed your baby directly does not make you less of a mother. Some mums have to pump their breast milk exclusively to feed their babies and so on and that’s totally fine. It’s just a different way to go.