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Comfort Nursing : My Life as a Human Pacifier

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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

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