May 28, 2018

Breastfeeding is challenging, and mothers often rely on pacifiers to give themselves a little break. But will this have a negative impact on the breastfeeding relationship?

To get some relief, moms often want to give their baby a pacifier, but they’re told that it can destroy their breastfeeding relationship. So, these mothers suffer, and many of them eventually stop breastfeeding. So, the question is: can pacifiers and breastfeeding go together, especially in those early weeks?

Nipple Confusion

The biggest worry is that a newborn baby will develop nipple confusion. Nursing at the breast is different than sucking a bottle or a pacifier. If a baby gets accustomed to sucking on a bottle or a pacifier, the baby may get confused when latching onto the breast again.

Many experts recommend waiting to introduce artificial nipples to avoid nipple confusion. Four to six weeks seems to be an average length of time to wait.

Can You Introduce Earlier?

Each parent is free to decide when they want to introduce a pacifier to their child. 
Studies show us that pacifier use while breastfeeding doesn’t typically change the outcome of the relationship. In fact, some evidence shows that, as hospitals remove pacifiers, fewer mothers continue attempting to breastfeed.
If a mother feels she needs to introduce a pacifier to get a few breaks throughout the day, introducing earlier could be beneficial for everyone. A healthy mother is needed to grow a healthy, breastfed baby. The last thing anyone wants is a mother developing PPD! 

What You Should Remember about Giving a Pacifier

If you decide to introduce a pacifier earlier, remember that a pacifier is never a substitute for breastfeeding. You don’t want to push your child to go longer between feedings if he isn’t ready. Watch the clock and make sure you aren’t pushing your baby into longer stretches without eating. These early weeks are when growth is crucial.
You should also remember that growth spurts happen for a reason. If you notice your baby is very unsettled and wants to nurse often, he might be in the middle of a growth spurt. Your baby must nurse more often to give your body the signal to create more milk. He is boosting your supply. So, using a pacifier too often during a growth spurt can damage your supply.

So, Can Pacifiers and Breastfeeding Go Together?

Recommendations go both ways. If a mother can understand the signs of nipple confusion, using a pacifier early in her child’s life may not be a problem. In fact, using a pacifier may help a new mother feel less stressed and less likely to stop breastfeeding during the early weeks. A mother’s sanity and well-being are just as crucial.

In many situations, pacifiers and breastfeeding go together perfectly.

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