Tuesday, October 12, 2010

avoiding the dummy

Pacifier. Soother. Dummy.

None of these names are particularly attractive, but they are certainly revealing. I call them 'peace plugs' because as harsh as it sounds, they put a plug on it and allow you a bit of peace, quiet and time. Having a toddler shadowing my every move and not depending on the tv as a babysitter (see tv-free childhood) has also made quiet moments hard to come by the past few weeks. And so, the dummy has been a tempting idea. After an excruciating episode in the car (picture baby wailing, a traffic jam, and a mother-turned-wild-animal sobbing her eyes out, begging and screaming at husband to let her pick screaming baby up and place her on breast while driving), I do keep an emergency dummy on hand for when my breast is absolutely not available, but the rest of the time I have been trying my hardest to allow my nipple to be the "pacifier". Dr. Sears recommends avoiding pacifiers, especially the first few months of life for the following reasons: they can cause nipple confusion- as they require a completely different suck than a nipple does; they interrupt the baby's natural way of increasing and maintaining a mother's milk supply- the more you allow your baby to suck, (even when you feel you have not a drop left) the more milk your body will produce; studies have shown that babies who are offered dummies, especially in the early days, tend to be weaned earlier by their mothers.

Most health practitioners say you should "feed" your child no more than 3-hourly, but I am trying not to look at the clock or to time feeds. I am of the firm belief that breastfeeding is so much more complex than a meal. It provides comfort, security, and confidence and is a strong survival instinct that shouldn't be ignored. Offering my breast allows my baby to experience the interconnectedness between us- something we've felt the past nine months together.

You may think I am being dramatic, but offering a dummy feels like a betrayal. As if I am saying to this brand new, desperately needy little soul, "Sorry, I don't have time for you right now. Take this instead."

And so, you can find me on the bench at the supermarket with a baby on my breast having a comfort suck and a toddler in the pram, or on the footpath around the corner breast out, offering a little snack, or walking around half naked in my home with a little one latched on while I am preparing lunch, or in more tender moments, lying side-by-side in bed.

Sometimes I'd like to put a plug in it, especially when feeding feels like it's interfering with my relationship with North. But then I think that perhaps he'll remember not that I wasn't there, but that I was a supportive mama to his sister, just as I was to him. I hope I am teaching him what it is to be present and showing him that my children's voices are always heard and respected.


ADDED NOTE: As with all my posts, this is not meant to be a judgement on the many mothers who choose to offer a dummy to their children. I do understand that sometimes a dummy can be a very comforting thing for a very sucky baby/toddler, especially if their mother is unable to breastfeed for a multitude of reasons. As with everything to do with parenting, it is a personal choice, and I truly believe every mother offers the very best she can give to her children.

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Ooty said...

you are very strong one if you still have'nt use it =) I really think so! I feel that second child does not have all the priviledges that first one does...and being on my breast as soothing i guess is also part of it..
I do not watch the clock with her feeding, I truely believe that they get what they need when breastfeeing. So it happens that she might feed every 1.5 to 3 hrs during the day (when it is a hot day it can be even sooner) but at night she is allready a champion with 5 hrs space! So I do think that "nature" knows how to do it =)
But when i drive or cooking for my big one and she needs comfort I use Gumdrop pacifiar which is build so it won't confused the baby and is breast like (you should look it out)

Cath @ chunkychooky said...

I admire your no TV committment that is so great!!!

I often hear this nipple confusion thing but don't really see how a baby could confuse one with the other: one gives milk, one doesn't etc... I have heard it before.. but I am not convinced. as you know they love to suck weather it be nipple or dummy or thumb.
Any health professional that tells you to not feed your baby less than every three hours is maybe a little confused about breastfeeding. The beauty of it is you can not ever over feed them on it, so if you need to feed every hour during the day then do it I reckon.
have a look here: http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/
I am not sure where you are in the world so sorry if that was an obvious link.
Your baby is gorgous!! truely beautiful...

Jgee said...

I'm with you on the no dummy approach. I never introduced one and am happy I stuck with it (of course not judging Mamas who do). My little man found his own thumb at about 4 months and uses it when he needs to self soothe or is tired etc. Of course it has its own pitfalls, but at least he is regulating himself vs an adult/parent shoving something in his mouth when they deem appropriate.

Umatji said...

oh i am a dummy free mum! mind you I had moments when they were a bit bigger - you know teething moments when I would have paid for them to TAKE a dummy but of course by then they refused! Ah - the journey!

Vic said...

I was so with you on the dummy-free principle when Punk was born... for like... 3 weeks... then I tried every trick in the book to get her to take one - she wasn't the most placid, sleepy, not-screaming-most-of-the-time child! It took some convincing but eventually she took a dummy & honestly, I didn't look back!

She still fed every 1.5 to 2 hours (3 hours... really?! That can't be normal for a breastfeeding wee bub, can it?!), but the dum meant she would occasionally go to sleep by herself or with her Daddy, or that I could make the 15 minute bus ride to the shop without a screaming infant.... ah.... just remembering the relief to my frayed nerves makes me breath a little easier...

Mrs B said...

In our house, the boobie was always the dummy :-) I demand fed Little B for the first 6 months this was every 2 hours (almost day and night). He was the screamy kind of child (but later we discovered it was food allergy).

I havent had a 2nd child but we would have followed the same path as you (no tv, no dummy) as that is what we did with our first.

Christina said...

I love your posts. So thoughtful and informative.

Cohen did have a dummy when he was a baby. We had been of the opinion that we would never give him one. But he was breastfeeding every half an hour for an hour at a time and was still unhappy. I felt like I was failing him in some way.

I called the ABA a few times and was told to just keep feeding him, it was probably a growth spurt and he would settle into a different feeding pattern soon. This went on for weeks and I was at the end of my rope about it!

I called the ABA again and the lady I spoke to said that there was no harm in trying him with a dummy. It worked! He stretched out his feeds, seemed happier and could self soothe in the car.

He gave up the dummy himself when he was around 6 months old. I was still breastfeeding and he would still feed to sleep or be comforted by feeding. How I miss breastfeeding. (I had to stop when he was 18 months so I could go on thyroid medication.)

We are hoping to be able to try for another baby next year (when the specialist gives the all clear) and while we will try to persevere without a dummy, if push comes to shove again I will be happy to use a dummy again.


ange_moore said...

I'm with you on the no dummy thing. We found that a suck on dad's little finger was a good interim measure where required!!

But I can't live without Playschool on the TV whilst I have a shower!! Good on you.

Brittany said...

i don't think you're being dramatic. i mean, a mother's instinct, that pull, is there for a reason.

Ellie Tat said...

I've never given dummies to my children. I bought one for my son before a longhaul flight when I didn't know what to expect and one for my daughter when she was on sick and on breast strike, but never ended up using them. My son loved the flight and my daughter didn't want the dummy any more than she wanted a breast. With my son my parents-in-law put a fair bit of pressure to give the dummy a go, and I felt tempted a few times, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. It just feels like with a dummy a major communication closes - half of the baby's face is hidden, I can't see their expression and can't read what is happening in their world.

deux chiens et un garcon said...

Such a beautiful moment you have captured with your lttle one. Like lots of things in parenting this issue can polarize mothers/familiies. Philosophically I tend to agree with you about it being a plug, becoming a barrier to communication. I have seen a lot of mothers not able to breast feed due to poor supply, but continue to use a dummy and time feeds. When you seea baby having a dummy all the time with a large portion of their face covered carried around every where in the pram, almost forgotten about, it does look sad to me. I did not want to use a dummy and feel proud that we are still dummy free. There have been many grizzly moments where one would have been handy. It was offered by a well meaning friend but our son did not want it. Phew. Well then you just have to attend to their needs and deal with it.

On the contrary there is the problem of over feeding in some babies and lactose intolerance with too much foremilk been given with too frequent small feeds, upset tummy, explosive green poos and lots of crying and difficulty settling. Hence I have seen dummies usesd discretionally here to stretch out the feeds to allow a longer feed and fully then draining the breast getting that lovely rich fatty milk which is calmer on the young tummy.

x j

LJ said...

You know what I love about this blogging community...is that we are all so different. I love the different approaches we have, but I love that most of the time there really seems to be no judgement on the different ways we raise our children. We can take the bits of information and advice and use what we want...

I am a demand feeder. I will feed my baby whenever he/she wants to be bed, even if that is every half an hour. I think it is a bit of nonsense to not feed under three hours. I suppose whatever works for you though. My girls spent a lot of time on the boob and being in the ergo they were always fed in public or wherever required. That being said, I also have used dummies with both girls and have found them to be very successful in comforting my children. I will use a dummy again with this next bubba but always offer the boob first.

tamdoll said...

This is interesting. When my oldest was a baby and a fussy eater, she took a pacifier quickly, and I ended up bottle feeding her around 4 months. I honestly don't know if there's a connection - she was fussy with the bottle, too - wish I never went to formula.

My second, I fed on-demand, she sucked her thumb and was peaceful with that. I wish I had more community and people to work things out with when my girls were little. Having a support network is so important and it's great that you blog about all of these issues.

Amber said...

What a beautiful, beautiful photo! :)

abbie said...

I agree. With my first I did the nurse-on-demand. whenever, and where ever. We'd be eat out...up against a side wall in Target, or just in the car together. (when it was stopped.) And I felt we were feeding all the time, but I feel he really needed that closeness. I too believe that breastfeeding is about comfort, love, and nourishing the heart as well as the body. With my second baby, I had an 18 mo. old who occupied much of my attention. She was a good nurser, but you are right. We got on the suckie in the NICU. And we weaned earlier at 5 months. She was a bit more independent, but I believe that now, she is a more clingy, separation-anxious child because she didn't get the close nursing, and the co-sleeping her brother did. We are actually trying for a third now, and who knows...we may really go back to some of the attachment parenting that I feel is so natural, organic, and real. Thanks for your post here! Good luck to you!

tea with lucy said...

Love that gummy booby smile!

Go the mummy dummy!

Catherine said...

I love her sweet little smile.xo

dillpickle said...

My oldest wouldn't take a dummy, even though we tried! I suspect we'll get to the point where we really want this one to take one too, especially in the middle of the night when we're all desperate for some sleep! In my sane moments, though, I'm really glad my first didn't take one, and I don't really want this one to take one either. We're demand feeding (though I don't think supply is needing to be stimulated - my little greedy guts feeds until she's way over full and then projectile vomits everything up, and then wants to start again...), often at least every couple of hours during the day. I don't know what people base their information on who advocate feeding no more often than 3 hourly. That contradicts all the recent research I'm aware of re breastfeeding newborns!

I hope you're coping OK with the transition to 2 - many of my friends have told me the transition from 1 to 2 is harder than 2 to 3, and right now, I think there's something in that!! It's really hard work trying to balance the needs of the new one with the first one, especially when you're sleep deprived (for me, anyway!). But it will get easier and better, I'm sure.

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