Is it Okay to Use the Breast as a Pacifier

Corky Harvey from Pump Station and Nurtury says it's perfectly fine to use breast as pacifier for non-nutritive sucking
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Is it Okay to Use the Breast as a Pacifier

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- Moms today tell us all the time that people in their environment are criticizing them for using their breast as a pacifier, when in truth, the breast is the very best pacifier for a baby. Babies need to suck, it's calming to them. It is a reflex that calms and relaxes them, so where are they gonna suck? People don't give much consideration to pacifiers possibly not being a very good idea, but in fact, they can actually change the shape of the mouth and lift the palette, babies get more ear infections and yeast infections when they use pacifiers, and I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but this is even better. So babies have two kinds of sucking. Nutritive sucking, where they're actually removing milk from the breast, and non-nutritive sucking, when the milk is not flowing, and that's the mother's deal. As she releases milk, the baby swallows. When she stops releasing for a few minutes, the baby gets a respite and has time to do the non-nutritive sucking, which is very calming. So it's really important for babies to have that opportunity, and when they're on the breast, they have all the right things. They're close, they're touching, the smell, the heartbeat, the warmth, so relaxing. I love those times, when I could just relax with my baby on my breast. So when somebody gives you that unwanted advice, it's probably best to answer them with, wow, it's really good for my baby, and if your mother giving that advice, you might tell her what some other cultures do, they use the grandmother's breast as the pacifier.


Corky Harvey from Pump Station and Nurtury says it's perfectly fine to use breast as pacifier for non-nutritive sucking

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Expert Bio

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Corky Harvey, MS, RN, IBCLC

Certified Lactation Consultant

Corky Harvey is a co-founder of the Pump Station & Nurtury™ - the first new parent resource center of its kind. She is a registered nurse with a master's degree in maternal/newborn Nursing, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She teaches breastfeeding and baby care classes, facilitates the New Mother Breastfeeding Support Groups, and is a frequent guest lecturer. Corky has three grown children who were breastfed and she loves to claim that their intelligence is linked to this. Corky has two grandsons, Diego who nursed over two years, and 18-month-old Axel who is still breastfeeding. 

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