Thursday, March 13, 2014

Breastfeeding Moms: Did you pacifier?

Baby with a pacifier: did you use a pacifier if you breastfed your baby?
Jake is my third breastfed baby, and at this point in his life, he's been nursing the second-longest. Luke, my oldest, only nursed for 3 months, and then switched to formula. I try not to over-analyze or beat myself up over that fact, but looking back on it, and knowing what I know now - GAH, I wish - wish, wish, wish, I could go back and change that. I feel confident I could have fixed our problems if I was working with the information and experience I have now. But, that's not the point. The point is this.

Two of my breastfed children have used a pacifier, and one hasn't. And I'm curious - if you're a breastfeeding mother, did you use one?

Let's start with baby #1.

I was against pacifier usage because of all the reading I did while pregnant for the first time. I was scared of nipple confusion, and so I said no way. While we were in the hospital, a nurse gave him a pacifier during his newborn tests to keep him quiet, and I was so mad! It's stupid, in the same situation now I wouldn't be mad, but whatever. So we had a pacifier from the hospital, and a few nights into life with Luke, we were exhausted and desperate (ohhhhhhhh 2009 me, the things I wish I could tell you now!) so I finally said okay to the pacifier. It helped us sleep. But it also helped destroy my milk supply. It was one of many many factors (a post for another day), so I cannot blame our breastfeeding failure on just a pacifier, but it was in the mix. Luke went on to use it until he was 21 months. I was going to let him keep until 2, but he'd already cut back to only using it when he slept (they didn't leave his room), and our cat kept chewing on them! Fearing for our cat (one of my friends had a cat that chewed off the nipple of a Soothie pacifier - the same kind we use - and it got stuck in his digestive system and he died!), and because we didn't want to keep buying new ones over and over again, we decided to cut the pacifier phase a few months short. Luke was developmentally, the easiest toddler on the planet, so two days later he was fine without it. Never looked back.

Baby #2.

When Henry was born, I was even more afraid of the pacifier. I knew it played a role in the failure of breastfeeding, and I was desperate - I mean, desperate, to succeed with Henry. So I told everyone that he could not have a pacifier until he was 6 weeks old, no exceptions. So 6 weeks rolled around, and I eased up. But Henry wouldn't use it. I'd put a pacifier in his mouth and he had no clue what to do. He'd kind of shove it back out with his mouth and look at me like, "Why do you keep putting that thing in my mouth, Mom?" For a couple months, I'd try here and there - I tried 4 or 5 different brands and styles of pacifiers, trying to find one more nipple-like that he'd accept, but none of them were good enough. All I wanted was something to pop in his mouth when we were out in public and I needed an instant fix for 5 minutes, but he wouldn't use anything. This also meant he had the same feelings about bottle nipples, so I could never pump him a bottle (that part was okay, I loathe pumping) - which meant I could never leave him near sleep times because I had to be around to nurse him (that part was rough as he got older). When people (namely doctors) would ask if I weaned him from bottles or pacifiers, multiple times at different ages, I was always like -  he never started! And so that made things a little easier on us in the end - in fact, he weaned from nursing extremely peacefully at 20 months, too. I couldn't have asked for better, really. But I thought....maybe with the next baby, I wouldn't wait 6 weeks - there has to be a happy medium, right?

So, Baby #3.

I decided that a pacifier would be in Jake's life, even if not consistently. I just didn't want it to be a foreign object to him like it was for Henry. So from birth, he had one. A nurse in the hospital tried to lecture us about nipple confusion and I stopped her in her tracks - we've been there lady, we've got this. For the first 2-3 weeks, Jake only got his pacifier when he was in his car seat, or if he had a marathon nursing session and my boobs were hurting. Because seriously, he did that A LOT, and I'd just need a little break to recover. I wanted to make sure my supply came in well, so I didn't want him to use a pacifier much until after that point. This felt like a good happy medium to me.

But then, after those 3 weeks were up, I think he may have had it a little too often. When I was wearing him in public, I'd usually pop a pacifier in his mouth rather than a boob because it was just easier (I had no option with Henry). At night, if I felt he should have slept a longer stretch (only after he began sleeping longer stretches, like 4-5 hours), I'd pop in the pacifier and buy us another hour of sleep. My supply felt fine, his diapers were getting dirtied, and his weight was always going up.

Then one day recently, I was reading a breastfeeding article (I still do this often, despite having experience, now) and I read some very obvious things that...I know, but needed to hear. You know how things just work like that sometimes? You might know something, but having it repeated or said a certain way makes it more obvious again? Well, I realized that if I didn't cut back on the pacifier a) I would probably get my fertility back sooner than I did with Henry - it came back at 10.5 months postpartum, and I DO NOT WANT IT BACK (haha) b) My nursing relationship with Jake might halt at a year rather than continue on because my supply may not have as much staying power and c) I could be keeping Jake from growing to his full potential. He was healthily gaining weight, and he has obvious baby chub, but he was starting to cut back in keeping up with Henry's typical gains when he was the same age (though still quite a bit heavier than Luke was).

So I've once again limited his pacifier use to in the car seat (because, I can't do much about that), and after a nursing marathon and my boobs are in pain (which doesn't happen anymore at this age, but just in case it does). 

I'm curious to see if his weight gain increases, but either way - I feel confident about this decision. This way, the pacifier is still in his life, and if I ever NEED to pump and leave him a bottle, I can, knowing he can work an artificial nipple. But he's not using it for unnecessary soothing, which I think would have lead to eventual problems.

What's your take? I'd love to hear your story!

(Photo 1 is not my baby - stock photo from Microsoft! ;) The rest of them are my babies! Steal them and I'll hunt you down! kthnx.)


  1. Well you know that I am not one that believes that breastfeeding is the be all end all of getting a baby nutrients. Both of my girls had pacifiers. Both are fine. lol. Maya breastfed, which was complemented with formula (once a day, to give me a break!) from the very beginning. My supply was fine and she nursed fine until *I* wanted to stop at 5 months. So i did. Paige was breastfed for approximately 2 days. I had WAY too much going on, a 1 year old, finishing my Masters degree, etc. to be the sole person that could feed that child. Formula was amazing for us. We could take turns feeding her and i didn't feel the claustrophobic feeling I had when i was breastfeeding Maya.

    Now many will be concerned about immunity etc.. well neither of my kids ever had an ear infection, severe illness, etc. Yes, Paige did get the collustrom? is that why? I suppose it has something to do with it. But really who knows. There are other comparisons I could make between the two that what they ate as newborns didn't really affect the way they are today... but i'll stop. Just know that whatever happens, Jake will be fine. You just have to make sure that you are also ok and feel good about your decisions. I was really sad when i decided I just had to give Paige formula.. and that was 9 years ago.. I can't imagine how mothers are made to feel 9 years of hype later..

    1. I'm not worried about failing at breastfeeding with Jake - we've already gone well past the point that I "failed" with Luke, and there's no doubt in my mind that we'll make it to a year, which is technically considered success to LC's (not that I think they're the greatest, they're actually on the list of reasons why I failed with Luke!). Though if something happened and he had to switch to formula today, I'd be satisfied with him having a 4 month exposure to breastmilk. My concern is really about my lactation having staying power - I was hoping to make it to 2 with Henry - I was only 4 months shy, so I did not and do not beat myself up over it, and as I mentioned it happened very peacefully, we were BOTH ready, but I just realized that if I kept Jake on the same pacifier usage he was on, we wouldn't have made it anywhere near 2. I'm not even worried about it, it was just kind of a "duh, I know this" moment, and I'm curious to hear what other extended BFing moms have thought about it.

      I felt similarly after Luke was done nursing at 3 months - at first I was devastated, and I felt like a failure, and worried what others would think. I found ways to feel as close to Luke - I was the only one that fed him for quite a long time, and I'd hold him like we were nursing. I reminded myself that formula was invented for a reason - so that our babies wouldn't starve to death like they used to when our milk ran dry. And then I learned not to care at all about what other moms did or thought! And I was never worried about his health, and in fact - he's the healthier eater in our family at this point!!

      But, there is no comparison in their immunity. Luke catches EVERYTHING, Henry catches almost nothing - even after drinking directly from Luke's cups when he's sick. I have to attribute that to his extended nursing.

      Anyway, none of this is really the point! Lol I actually want to write a full breastfeeding post at some point, and I'll probably say a lot of this again - I'm just curious if other extended breast feeders also used pacifiers, and if it messed with their supply or length of breastfeeding relationships.

  2. I've never read about a correlation to BF and pacifier use. I nursed all three kids until they were 12-14 months old. All 3 used pacifiers. With James I thought, he doesn't need one and never used it until he started sucking his thumb at like 3 months and drooled all over the place. He used a paci until around 12 months when we decided he was too old. Olivia used a pacifier from birth to about 6 months. We offered but she rarely really took it and mostly used me for soothing. Oh and I've always been the lucky one to get my "fertility" back within 3 months of birth. All 3 times. Benjamin used one intermittently. He really nursed a lot too. I don't believe the BF/better immunity hype either. All 3 kids EBF from birth and their immune systems are terrible! James catches everything! And then when Olivia gets it from him, she gets it worse. If I was you, I would not worry. You have healthy, beautiful boys. It doesn't matter if they are FF or BF. Oh! Another interesting tidbit-with 2 out of 3 kids, our nursing experience began with a nipple shield for a few weeks. Maybe that is why pacis did not affect our nursing?

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