Maybe a relative or friend told you, "your baby is using you as a pacifier". After all, he's practically asleep, but still latched onto your breast. This is a common concern new moms have when their babies want to nurse around the clock. Suddenly, mom thinks she's doing something wrong, and no mom wants to be a bad mom.
Let me put your mind at ease, because babies have a great need to suck, and that's ok. In fact, it's a sign of a healthy baby! A normal baby nurses at least 8 times a day, and it all happens for a reason (many reasons, in fact!).
Purpose of Frequent Nursing
The most obvious reason a newborn nurses frequently is that they're hungry. Their stomachs start out tiny-about the size of a shooter marble-and slowly stretch out the first few days and weeks. Since breastmilk is easily digested they need frequent meals. Waiting 4 hours between feedings is outdated advice. Baby will let you know when they need to eat by putting their hands to their mouths and "rooting".
Another very important part of this around-the-clock nursing is to build up mom's milk supply. Frequently nursing ensures mom's breasts will make enough milk. Limiting nursing sessions in order to relieve sore nipples or "cry-it-out" sleep methods often have moms worried about their milk supply and babies not gaining weight. Every time your baby nurses, even if they're sleeping, it's sending signals to your brain to keep making milk.
Growth spurts are an often-overlooked reason for an older baby wanting to nurse more often than he used to. This increase in sucking stimulates more milk within a few days to meet the demands of the bigger baby. To short-circuit this by putting a pacifier in his mouth could lead to a baby who doesn't get the milk he needs and maybe supplementation with formula.
The more babies nurse the more mom's ovulation is delayed. Your body concentrates on making milk instead of getting pregnant again. This can let you get by longer without using birth control, but learn more about how long to expect this delay in fertility.
The last purpose of nursing that I must mention is what it does for moms. We all understand that sucking is calming for babies, which is why pacifiers were invented - they keep babies quiet! What a pacifier doesn't do is release those calming and bonding hormones in mom. When a mother nurses her little one she gets a burst of these calming hormones that every new mother could use, right?
Introducing a Pacifier-Some Tips
Sometimes we just need to put the baby down while we wash some dishes - I understand! If you do decide to use a pacifier, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Introducing a pacifier too early can not only interfere with baby's weight gain and the abundance of milk, but sucking on a plastic nipple (pacifier or bottle) can lead to nipple confusion, which makes breastfeeding harder. The general consensus is to hold off for three weeks at least, and six is even better. If by that time your baby is gaining weight and you feel breastfeeding is going well you can give a pacifier occasionally. For instance, in the car when you can't hold him.
Be sure to only give a pacifier when you're sure baby's not hungry. After nursing is better than trying to stretch the times between feedings. Crying is considered a late hunger cue, so don't wait until he's inconsolable.
Follow your common sense and safety warnings. Too small pacifiers can cause choking, and ribbons can strangle.
So, are you?
To answer the original question, no baby ever uses their mom as a pacifier. Why's that? Because a pacifier is a substitute for a mom, not the other way around. You may be able to trick your baby into calming down without you for a little while, but nothing could ever replace your arms, smile, kisses, and voice. Your baby needs you, so it's ok to hold him and nurse him just as long as you want to!
Dark, leafy greens are considered superfoods, which just means they're so packed with nutrition they should be part of everyone's daily diet. They're high in vitamins A, C, K, calcium, and folate. All of these nutrients are especially important while building a person in pregnancy. Perhaps if we all ate plenty of these greens and other superfoods prenatal supplements wouldn't be as necessary!
Dark leafy greens include things like kale, collards, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, broccoli, and cabbage. Our modern diets usually don't include much of these, but here are some ways to add them back in:
1) add them to omelets or other egg dishes, along with other favorite veggies
2) add them (cooked or frozen to eliminate food poisoning) to smoothies
3) add liberal amounts to stir fry the last few minutes. Cooking shrinks greens considerably.
4) pile greens and beans on tortilla chips and top with cheese for an easy lunch
5) fill two whole wheat tortillas with greens and cheese and grill
I'm a natural childbirth educator, lactation consultant (IBCLC), and doula in Athens, AL. Here is where I put healthy recipes, current research, and helpful articles for pregnancy, postpartum, and life in general. Check back often!