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Comfort Nursing : My Life as a Human Pacifier

This week’s breastfeeding topic is on comfort nursing, something I am all too familiar with! Something that sometimes I don’t mind, but there are times it became overwhelming.

What is comfort nursing?

Comfort nursing is when baby is nursing for non-nutritive reasons. In other words, baby wants/needs to suck, they want to be latched onto mama, but they aren’t hungry or aren’t eating. Often it’s the “flutter” suck – the light suckling that has very little, if any, swallowing with it.

While we were still at the hospital, I was told Rissa was a baby that needed to suck more often than most babies. Let me tell you – they were not kidding!

The morning we were supposed to leave, I could barely hardly get Rissa to be content unless she was latched on to me. She didn’t care if she was on right or not. She just needed to suck. Quickly I learned (from a nurse) to offer my finger – nail down – when I needed a break. This meant Daddy could help!


DentyChild_light copyI know some people don’t think mom should be a pacifier and others say you shouldn’t deny this comfort to baby. I’m kinda in the middle. In the early days, I tried to let her nurse as long as she wanted, even if it was for comfort. Mostly this was because we were still getting established and I couldn’t always tell the difference. Sometimes she’d comfort suck as a mini break then eat in full force again!

The hours of comfort nursing she did the first days after birth helped my milk come in in full force. It also lead to some soreness and random hickeys since she’d try to latch on anywhere!

For a baby like mine, you can’t deny such a strong desire to suck…it was too soon for a pacifier. She sucked on my finger for hours as I started to tell the difference. It would get pruney! I admit, I was so happy once we got to 4-6 weeks so I could introduce a pacifier…except she wouldn’t take it.

I think part of it was learning how, but we went through three different types and weeks before she suddenly took it. Relief!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the bonding time, but in the first few months, Rissa would nurse non-stop if I let her. It was a struggle to do simple things like go to the bathroom. Now, we have more of a balance.

If she’s upset or tired, the pacifier is offered first if she needs it or starts rooting. If these don’t work and she gets increasingly upset, then I offer the breast. I try not to offer it first unless it seems like she’s actually hungry. A few times she was so upset that the only way to calm her was offering me finger first, then as she calmed we’d switch to the breast. Nursing itself is so much more than food. Something about it can comfort us both. And boy does it work (most of the time) to get her to sleep when she’s overtired!

Sometimes (she’s so silly) she just seems to want to snuggle against my bare breast. She likes to suck on her pacifier and uses me as a pillow. It’s very precious.

Yep, I’m definitely in the middle. I feel it’s natural and is fine to comfort nurse. It can be what she needs emotionally and physically. But, we have to take other factors into consideration too. So, we do it in a way that works for us. It’s really a matter of personal choice, I think.

What are your thoughts on comfort nursing?


Image credit sovgunga @ Flickr


Thursday 21st of April 2011

Thank you for sharing your story! I almost gave up, but because of blogs and Twitter folks sharing their stories like you did, I had the strength to keep it up. Little did I know my lil man just really loved his mama! <3


Saturday 23rd of April 2011

I'm glad stories like mine can help other mamas through the tough nursing times. And yes - they love mama so much! :)


Saturday 16th of April 2011

I totally admire moms that exclusively pump - that's a lot of work!


Friday 15th of April 2011

Just started following your blog,twitter, and fb please make sure you follow back please. blog- Twitter-!/CHRISTY1986P facebook fanpage-!/pages/Christinas-Voice/133218916750446


Friday 15th of April 2011

My son likes to suck a lot too. I pretty much let him suck for comfort whenever, which is usually at night. When the flutter sucks, I've started doing the same thing with the paci. I get him off and replace with paci and then hold him for a bit against my skin before putting him down (this is usually at bedtime).


Friday 15th of April 2011

I can definitely say I enjoy the comfort nursing more now than before. But from the start she was constantly sucking on her hands - hungry or not. She'd get fussy but be happy if she had something to suck on.