Nipple Confusion – Breaking the Rules.

The advice I was given by my team of midwives and health care assistants was to breastfeed exclusively. I wanted to breastfeed totally because of the huge health benefits it could offer my baby and myself. Now I am in the swing of things, I am certain that it is what I shall do until my baby is 6 months old (as long as I can until then.) I have already begun to see the benefits. For example, when my baby had a poorly eye, a squirt of breast milk cured it within a day! Another big plus is that I am already at my pre-birth figure only a few weeks in, just with a little bit of extra tummy podge.

I was always told that introducing a bottle whilst breastfeeding would be a bad thing for my baby because it would cause nipple confusion. When was pregnant I therefore vowed not to use one until my baby was at least 3 months old. I was told that if I did need to express, then I could feed her with a spoon or special cup. Whilst pregnant, this all seemed like quite good advice and, although I’d never heard of Nipple Confusion, I had no reason to question it. That is, until my baby girl was born!

I began to breastfeed exclusively and that suited me fine. Yet as the weeks went on, I began to have a few doubts about the positives of exclusivity. Firstly, my partner felt quite left out as in the first 2 weeks, all she did was feed and sleep. Now she is a little bigger, she does enjoy having cuddles and playtime with her daddy but I still cannot leave him with her because if she gets hungry, he can’t do anything.

Secondly, I began to worry about going back to work. When I go back, my baby will have to get used to a.) me not being around b.) drinking from a bottle and c.) formula milk. This has made me think that if I didn’t introduce any of these things until it was time, I might be faced with huge problems. Even my plan of breastfeeding exclusively for the first 3 months began to seem like a bad idea. What if by then she wouldn’t take a bottle? Or what if she wouldn’t feed with anyone but me?

I was concerned about Nipple Confusion but, because of all of these worries, I decided to be brave and go against the advice I have been given. When my baby was 5 weeks, I decided that I was going to express into one bottle a day so that my husband could feed her. The first couple of times she was really reluctant to take the bottle but things have eased. In fact, I even managed to leave her with my parents for a few hours so that my husband and I could have some couple time. My baby does not have nipple confusion; she can now take a bottle or my breast. I now feel much more confident about going back to work; my husband has developed a stronger bond with my girl and if I need to, I can leave her for a couple of hours here and there with close family members. This will be great for them to bond with her and it gives me and my husband a rest from time to time. Plus, when it does come to going back to work, I don’t have to worry about how my girl will react when I am not there and she has to feed from a bottle all day.

A lot of women have breastfeeding problems and I was concerned that nipple confusion would cause some issues.  However, the benefits of others being able to feed my baby far outweighed any impact that nipple confusion might have had.  A risk, yes – but one worth taking 🙂