Am I bfd'ing or just being a human pacifier?

Nicky - posted on 02/09/2011 ( 21 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 19mnths. I don't mind breastfeeding her on demand (I am a SHM) but I am not sure if she is getting any milk after a few minutes. It seems to me that after a while, I don't feel that feeding sensation and she is just sucking away, playing with her hair etc. To be honest, I don't want to continue if I am just a pacifier because it hurts my nipples and I can't seem to get a good night's rest because of the awkward boob-in-mouth poisition I have to sleep in.

Anyone knows the difference between true breastfeeding and just pacifiying? Has anyone rectified this 'problem' of just being a pacifier?

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Camie - posted on 02/15/2011

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Remember a pacifier is actually a breast substitute. Babies/children are meant to "pacify" at the breast. Nursing a toddler is a lot different than an infant. They do do a lot more comfort sucking than before. That being said it is fine to put limits on nursing with a toddler. I am currently pregnant and it is not comfortable to nurse my 2 year old so I do it for 15 seconds. My dd knows that when I say 15 she needs to unlatch. At nightime or nap time I allow her to nurse to sleep. Give him limits that you are comfortable with. He will do fine.

Alisha - posted on 02/13/2011

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ctive nursing involves the suck suck swallow and then there is the lazy suck when they are just hanging out! I have nursed two children till 2.5 and on demand. I would get frustrated with the suck that was not active and started to stop them because it was uncomfortable. Yes they do still get a little milk and you will eventually let down and they will actively nurse for a moment. Dont feel bad about ending the session if it bothers you when she stops actively nursing. Its a relationship not a one way street!

Dalice - posted on 02/13/2011

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If a baby at 6mo is within healthy weight range they don't techncially need to be feed through the night, of course this is completely up to the parents, my boys were both being breastfeed when I used Dana Oblemans techiques to teach them to self settle through the night. I know they didn't actually need feeding in the night when they only would feed off one side and would fall asleep shortly after starting, so it wasn't because of hunger it was in order to get themselves back to sleep. I am a firm believer that it's good for a Mum to get a good nights sleep, and that the baby (or toddler in this case) will eat a better breaskfast if they aren't being topped up through the night which will flow through to better feeding for the rest of the day. Dana's methods are not 'no cry' and can be tough for people who don't like to hear a baby cry but I can say it took 5 nights (with improvements each night) for our first son and 2 nights for our second, usig the journal she provides is a must to show how it is working and there are two different options one is tougher than the other so you cna pick depending on your resilience level. My oldest is 2.5 yo and still sleeps through the night with occassional exceptions, and in those cases he just needs a cuddle from Mum or Dad and lays back down to go back to sleep on his own. From what you have said your daughter is using you as a human pacificer which means she needs to learn how to self settle back to sleep. We all wake in the night, but it's a learned thing to self settle not something that comes naturally and if you are giving her the breast to put her to sleep then she will continue to need this until you decide to make a change as it is the only way she knows how to get back to sleep. Whatever process you decide to use I wish you luck, to read more about Dana's sleep strategy & other great advice she has go to www.sleepsense.net. You both need good night sleep and breastfeeding should be enoyable, which it doesn't sound like the night suckling happening is for you, make the change and you will be happier and your daughter will not be any worse off, if anything she will benefit from the change.

Lauren - posted on 02/12/2011

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It seems that 18-19 months is an age where toddlers go crazy for nursing, I know that I and other longterm nursing friends of mine had the same experience. After the first year, nursing should be a mutual negotiation between you and your daughter. Think of what circumstances under which you could continue to nurse her without feeling frustrated. Maybe you need to set a timer or sing a song to keep the sessions short, or maybe you'd feel better doing it in the morning and at night and no more. With my daughter, I had to push her to reduce nursing sessions to keep it mutually desirable. At nearly 3 years old, she'd probably still nurse constantly if I let her. But, for it to be comfortable and good for me, I limit her to before nap and before bed, and for only about 5 minutes. Nursing is really important to toddler emotional well-being, so being "used" as a pacifier has its purpose, even though it can be crazymaking! Good luck.

Robin - posted on 02/14/2011

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Not sure. I can tell when my daughter is drinking opposed to just sucking....I can usually hear her drinking. But either way I don't mind. I like that I'm able to soothe her and I won't stop until she is ready.

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Nicky - posted on 02/20/2011

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Thanks ladies. You have provided a number of helpful information and encouragement. I can't say the sleep/boob situation has improved just yet but one thing I have realized is that I am inconsistent dependent on how much sleep I got the night before...I definitely have to work on this.

Jennie - posted on 02/16/2011

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Interesting, I just came back from the pediatrician to discuss this very thing, only it was regarding my seven-month-old. She said there is no reason he needs to nurse at night and that indeed, I have become a human pacifier by letting him nurse to sleep before naps and bedtime. I was desperate -- he has been up to nurse every two hours all night, every night for the past three months, as well as six times a day and three solid meals. So last night I moved his bed into his and his brother's room. He cried twice throughout the night, no more than 10 minutes, and you can tell it wasn't a serious cry, more like "I'm tired, this usually works, okay I'm over it zzzzzzz." I expect it will be even less tonight and my husband and I can finally get some sleep. I never had to go through this with my first (who is now 2.5), and the crying thing really threw me. But that baby has got to learn other ways to soothe himself back to sleep so that I can sleep, or I won't be a good mother. Good luck to you, girl. And remember, she needs her sleep too in order to develop properly. Breastfeeding is awesome, but I think there are times it is not helping the child, and this is one of those times.

Erica - posted on 02/15/2011

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Ya my son does this as well he is my third child and they all did it I'm afraid it's like soothing I think ;) but what I do is let him sooth for a while not to the point of pain n I take him off cause I know the feeling when he is no longer feeding n just soothing can u feel the difference? Well ya he at times crys but I rock him or sooth him by humming :)

Aideen - posted on 02/13/2011

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I'm still BFing DS who will be 2 on Sat. I often feel like he's getting very little too. Let-down isn't sucha strong feeling anymore and if I'm away for the day my boobs aren't as full as they would have been in the early days.

I know he's getting something though...and even being abole to offer him comfort is good...but I'm not uncomfortable. We don't nurse very much at night just a good long early moring session....so I do get my sleep, most of the time.I'd say La Leche might have some good answers for you? Can you get to a meeting?

Michelle - posted on 02/13/2011

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When Im empty it hurts because my daughter does the same. Just look for a change (i.e her swallowing and then a change in the way she 'feeds')

Meaghan - posted on 02/13/2011

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Nursing shouldn't hurt. Remind your daughter to be careful of the nipples. I used to have to remind my daughter to nurse correctly. It was surprisingly effective once she understood that it hurt me. Also, it is reasonable to limit how much nursing she can do if you are uncomfortable and unable to sleep. I used to make a deal for 5 minutes and then encourage her to roll over and cuddle instead of nursing. LLL has lots of great tips on how to wean - whether you are trying to set limits or actually stop nursing.

Merry - posted on 02/13/2011

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There is no such thing as a 'human pacifier'
Pacifiers are 'fake nipples'
Babies are biologically designed to eat, and comfort on the breast.
Pacifiers are a human invention so we don't have to be available to the baby all the time.
Pacifiers benefit mom, not baby.
So try to realize, that a baby is supposed to comfort suck at the breast, no baby was born with the need for a pacifier.

Tracey - posted on 02/13/2011

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my girl at 13 months would wake up at the same time every night sice she was 3 moths and have a quick feed and go back to sleep. so i started giving her water and just walk out of the room. for the first 3 nights she would cry for a few min and go back to sleep. now she is 15 months and has not woke up at night since
good luck

Jessica - posted on 02/12/2011

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Monica, do you have any evidence that all breastfeeding infants are able to go all night without a feed from 4-6 months? From what I've read (and backed up by my child health nurse who is also a lactation consultant), some babies need to feed at night until they are much older. The 4-6 month thing is based on formula fed babies.
Anyway, Nicky - good on you for keeping BFing this long :) If it's not comfy for you though, don't feel you have to keep letting her suck. You can try taking her off gently when her suck pattern changes and she is no longer swallowing. Keep cuddling her, she will fuss a bit and then hopefully settle to sleep; if she starts getting upset, let her back on the boob, then repeat. I think I got that technique from Elizabeth Pantley's 'No Cry Sleep Solution' as Laura suggested - I highly recommend it to anyone struggling with sleeping issues! Good luck...

Merry - posted on 02/12/2011

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It's actually not the biological norm for any human to sleep all night without waking, the question is more if the child is capable of falling back asleep unassisted.
Most 19 month olds are still needing some parental help to fall back asleep once or more a night.
It's very normal, but it can be changed if you are unhappy with it.
'the no cry sleep solution, toddlers and preschoolers' is a wonderful book that offers many different tips on helping your toddler fall back asleep unassisted. Without leaving them to cry!
Eric is almost 2, he still needs my help falling back asleep about once a night, usually after 7 hours of sleep he needs to breastfeed to fall back.

Monica - posted on 02/12/2011

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A 19-month old should be sleeping through the night (most of the time).....and doesn't need to eat during the night (this need ends between 4-6 months depending on the weight of the baby and having enough nutrition stores to last them through the night). I actually weaned at 15 mos, but a couple months prior to this, he only nursed in the morning and at night (and occasionally before his afternoon nap). I had a sister who used my mom as a human pacifier....and she is no better in her long run development than the rest of us (in fact I would say she is more needy than the other 3 of us). You need to set limits and this is ok....it's not about denying your daughter, but about providing her the right place and time (and amt of time) to nurse. Also, the person who said you have to be producing milk the entire time is wrong....I know a 2 yo who was able to tell her mom that there was no more milk, but she liked to suck.....if you're not sleeping well and not comfortable, something needs to change....

Codie - posted on 02/12/2011

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if you don't like the constant nursing you could try pumping and offering that instead when you feel she is pacifying. the same at night. that's what i do for my baby. he's only 8mo but i'm trying a little here and there to get him in his own bed. i discovered that if he wakes bc he's really hungry, he'll drink the pumped milk from the bottle. but if not, he usually goes back to sleep when i offer the bottle.

Merry - posted on 02/12/2011

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I always say, wether you are feeding them emotionally or nutritionally it's still breast feeding!
But I honestly think that you have milk in there, she is likely able yo suck a lot and only swallow a few times cuz her mouth is bigger, and she is able to suck in a way that she doesn't get a lot of milk.
But, personally, Eric is breastfeeding for comfort only right now as I'm 6 months pregnant and my milk is practically non existent now :)
It still benefits him immensely, and what little milk he does get is packed full of immunities, so we continue!

Emily - posted on 02/12/2011

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I don't think that there is anything wrong with letting them nurse just for comfort. Comfort is a very real need at that young of an age, but don't worry, they do grow out of it! Think about the term human pacifier for a minute. A pacifier is designed to be a fake breast. It is designed to fill in when mama needs a break or can't be around. We assume when we let a child use a pacifier that it is meeting a need they have to suck for comfort. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with using a pacifier, but I think that it is the substitute for the real thing, not the other way around.

That said, at 19 months the need to suck for comfort is no where near what it was in the first year. This is a time when I think you can start reducing feedings a bit at a time. What I would do is skip the feeding that you feel your daughter is the least emotionally attached to, and see how she responds. If after a few days she has moved on and doesn't miss it, try skipping another one. If she gets clingy and cries at the drop of the hat, that would be a sign that she wasn't ready. I also think that nightweaning is a good idea. This guy has a good, gentle way to do it. http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleepp...
We tried this several times to see if our son was ready for it. We were successful with it at about 21 months if I remember right. Feel free to tweak it according to your daughters temperament, and take it as slow as you want. The thing that helped us the most was having dad take over comfort at night for a while, and having me go to a different room. When we finally got him night weaned, it helped me to enjoy day-time nursing much more. My 2.5 year old is down to nursing at nap time and right before bed, and is totally happy with that!

Tracy - posted on 02/10/2011

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I had that problem with my son at night he would cry I would get him and he would latch on for a little and fall right to sleep. My dr said that since he was feeding for less than 5 min that he wasn't really hungry, so I would let him fuss a little and usually he falls back to sleep. When he doesn't I will cuddle him and then go to the breast as the final resort.

Emily - posted on 02/09/2011

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Your daughter wouldn't continue to breastfeed if there was no milk there. The flow will slow down after a few minutes, but there is definitely still milk. The body is continually making milk. However, at that age you could try night-weaning. I haven't done it myself, but I know of others who have.

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