Alternative ways to feeding your baby!Jul 07, 2021
Baby's usually latch onto the breast within the first hour of life. It's recommended to put baby skin to skin immediately after birth and allow the baby to follow their instincts to naturally find the breast. This is called the breast crawl and can take up to an hour to happen. But what if baby is separated from mom? Or, what if baby is having trouble latching and or staying alert to effectively nurse? This can cause an issue with weight, sugar levels and even jaundice. Most parents are only taught to give a bottle if this happens but that can cause further issues with breastfeeding too. Giving a bottle too early can effect how the baby learns to latch. A bottle drips very fast even if it's the slowest flow nipple and the baby does not have to work at all to get the milk. When a baby goes to the breast they are working hard to get their food and that is how it supposed to be. Breastfed babies are using muscles in their jaw to effectively maintain and hold the latch. They also extend their tongue out to take the nipple and some of the surrounding areola into their mouth. They use their tongue to form a good seal around the breast while drinking. When they are bottle feeding they don't have to do any of this but suck like if the nipple was a straw. Although that sounds easier, the baby benefits from using their muscles while nursing so that it helps the development of the jaw and teeth structures. Everything has a purpose and has it's benefits. Another factor is when a baby gets used to the difference in sucking pattern and flow, they might get confused and start having difficulty sucking at the breast. They might even refuse the breast altogether. Nipple confusion does not happen with all babies but it is definitely a risk of introducing bottle too early. So what is the alternative to prevent these complications? There's actually a few options. The first option would be to spoon feed breast milk. Educating mothers on hand expression is crucial so that if needed they can feed their baby this way. Newborns do not need a lot of milk in the beginning so expressing some colostrum onto a teaspoon at each feeding would be enough until they are able to latch. Sit your baby up on your lap using one hand to support the baby's upper back and neck. Bring the spoon to the baby's mouth and tip so that the breast milk just touches your baby's lips. They will start to lap up the milk on their own as you slowly tilt the spoon in. The other alternative is to cup feed. You would hold the baby the same way and place the rim of the cup on the baby's upper lip. This will avoid loss of control and spilling milk as the baby laps up the milk slowly. The third option is to feed the baby with a syringe. This technique is especially good when baby needs practice with sucking. A syringe can have a small tube attached that would attach to the finger so that the baby can suck on the finger and have the tube with milk as well. The baby will continue to suck on the finger as the milk flows through the tube. If a tube is not available, then you would still insert a finger with the tip of the plastic syringe slowly inserted at the corner of the mouth. The baby will latch on to the tip and you will start pushing the plunger gradually, staying in sync with his sucking action. With all of the tools and tricks available, the most important thing to focus on is baby being fed, however that may be. If any feeding issues present, it's extremely important to get help sooner rather then later. Ideally getting support from an IBCLC to address issues and concerns will help make breastfeeding easier and enjoyable. The sooner you get help the sooner you will enjoy this precious time with your newborn.