Nursing for Comfort

Comfort nursing is something not all mothers choose to do, mostly because of the misconception there is around it. We would like to show you the positive side to nursing for comfort.

You might often hear people discouraging you from allowing your baby to use you as a "pacifier or dummy" and telling you that it creates "bad habits".

I've allowed nursing for comfort with my kids and experienced the benefits first hand. (my story here)

The funny thing, is that pacifiers (dummies) are only a recent invention. For thousands of years, babies were breastfed, whether by their own mother or by a wet-nurse.

Formulas, bottles and pacifiers.... they didn't exist. And surprise surprise, after what were they modelled? The breasts and breast milk.

We have been led to believe that we can spoil our children by holding them too much, and this includes breastfeeding them for comfort. We think they'll become more demanding as they grow up, yet research shows the opposite is true. 

“Modern, non-breastfeeding nurturing, is having a negative impact on our health.”
Brian Palmer, DDS, 1998

Babies who's touch needs are met, who are given love and attention when they need it, turn out to be more social. That is because they learned to trust. 

Nothing comforts a baby like the feel of their mother's skin, the smell of her, the sound of her voice and heartbeat... all these things are what comfort nursing automatically provides.

When a bottle is empty, the baby has to stop sucking to prevent taking in too much air, which will cause tummy aches. A breastfed baby doesn't have to stop, they can continue sucking for as long as they need/want without any side-effects.

The Benefits of Nursing for Comfort

  • To me the biggest benefit is that it helps with mouth and jaw development. Breastfed babies, in general, have stronger jaw muscles, and rarely need orthodontic procedures and/or treatments or braces later in life.
  • Breastfeeding also doesn't allow the milk to pool in baby's mouth like bottle feeding does. This is the biggest reason for tooth decay and cavities in children. Breast milk actually prevents tooth decay. 
  • Crooked, overcrowded teeth are much more common in bottle fed children, but not in breastfed children. That is because babies have to suck on a bottle teat to get the milk out, whereas breastfeeding requires more of a massage motion, not actual sucking.
    (Explanation: The movement used for bottle feeding can also be described as a piston-like movement. Breastfed babies instead use a series of compressions, rhythmically moving their tongues from front to back to "massage" the milk out of the breast. Two entirely different movements used!)
  • Because of the stronger muscles in a breastfed baby's jaw, they are able to speak clearer.
  • Your nipple and breast forms according to the shape of baby's mouth. But when bottle feeding or using pacifiers/dummies all the time, the baby's mouth will form to accommodate the shape of the teat. This can change the entire shape of the child's face!
  • Babies who are breastfed also can't be overfed. Breast milk is absorbed and used optimally by a baby's digestive system. And when they only suck for comfort, they don't necessarily get much milk in. Hence the term non-nutritive sucking. 

Your body knows how much (or how little!) to give your baby.

Also, breast milk is not stored in a baby's body the same way that formula is. Once the baby starts crawling and then walking, they work off the "fat cells" much easier than when formula fed. Formula fat cells are harder to lose and this is why the experts warn parents about the higher risk of obesity that is a result of formula feeding.

The benefits of providing the skin to skin comfort far outweighs all the concerns many mother's have about comfort nursing.

Breastfeeding is so much more than just a way of providing nutrition!

By Elsabe Rabe (her breastfeeding story)

Other pages on breastfeeding problems in connection with this page

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