How to avoid nipple confusion when you breastfeed and give formula top ups
I want to talk about the early newborn days. The days when we wait for our breastmilk to come in after birth, and the hours we nurse to learn how to get the latch right. And the piercing newborn cries that never seem to stop.
You've read online that your newborn baby should get enough from nursing. Plus a newborn's tummy size is like the size of a cherry. There should be no need to supplement with formula. But reality doesn't always turn out like this.
Maybe due to medical reasons, you have to supplement with formula. Or maybe, your newborn baby has been crying for hours and you decide to supplement with formula because he/she is hungry. Regardless of your circumstances, it's okay to supplement with formula.
The 2nd day is the hardest because it is the time between the sleepy 1st day of life and mom’s milk coming in. My newborn was crying non-stop, I needed a break, my partner needed a break, and she also needed a break. So I gave her formula top ups. A lot of people have strong opinions about this, but as long as you're not pressured into it and it's helping you survive those early days, then I don't see why not?
If you decide to breastfeed and give formula top ups, just be mindful of "nipple confusion" as babies react differently to a bottle.
What is nipple confusion?
In the case of newborns, nipple confusion is when babies are having a hard time latching on after being introduced to a bottle.
When breastfeeding, newborns have to work hard to get the milk out using their jaw and facial muscles. And them being so small, breastfeeding gets tiring after some time. Bottle-feeding on the other hand allows a more continuous milk flow and newborns can catch on pretty quickly it's much easier to suck from a bottle.
What the experts are saying
It's best to wait to introduce a bottle to your baby and exclusively breastfeed for the first 3 weeks. This ensures that baby has a good latch and that your breastmilk supply is well established.
How to avoid nipple confusion in the early days
Your expressed breast milk or formula top ups can be offered by a syringe. This is also referred to as finger feeding. Finger feeding does not cause nipple confusion. I did this for my newborn instead of using bottles because she was still learning how to latch in the first week.
How to supplement with a syringe
1. Wash your hands.
2. Position yourself and the baby comfortably.
3. Get a 10ml syringe and fill it with EBM/formula.
2. Insert your pinkie finger into baby's mouth. Once baby starts to suckle, insert the syringe and slowly release the milk from the syringe.
This type of feeding allows the baby to keep his tongue down and forward over the gums, the mouth wide-open and the jaw forward. This sucking motion is more similar to breastfeeding than bottle feeding is.