Who can benefit from a lactation aid? Many women!
If you are a mom to be, are considering adoption, need to take a break from breastfeeding, maybe the proud parent of multiples, or you wonder how to return your baby to the breast after an absence of breast feeding, then you may wonder how you can avoid bottle feeding supplementation and still provide optimum nutrition while you wait for your milk to start or return. The answer is a nifty device called a lactation aid.
What is a Lactation Aid?
A lactation device can be either purchased or homemade. Both versions usually consist of a bottle or bag containing the supplement along with a long tube. This tube may be inserted into the baby’s mouth after a good latch is achieved, or may be taped directly to the mother’s skin near her nipple. The homemade version can be easily made by inserting a long thin tube into an enlarged artificial nipple right into the supplement in the bottle. You can purchase one from Lact-Aid.com. Either way, this tube will need to be replaced about once per week.
Why is the Lactation Aid Better than Bottles?
Babies are smart. Obtaining formula from an artificial nipple is a lot less work. While some babies don’t seem to care about taste, a rare few prefer breast milk over formula. For the ones who don’t care much, the hard work of expressing milk from a breast compared to the easy task of obtaining formula from an artificial nipple is a no brainer.
However, breastfeeding has many advantages over bottle-feeding. Many of the reasons breastfeeding with supplementation is better than supplementation with artificial bottles and nipples has to do with psychological bonding, emotional needs of both mother and baby, and a host of other reasons including health benefits. If possible, breast is best.
However, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes the mother’s milk production is low. Other times the mother may be inducing lactation or relactating. Sometimes twins or multiple births may mean that, especially at first, there is not enough milk to go around. The baby may have a poor latch, the mother may be inexperienced, the baby may be a fussy eater, the flow of milk may even slow down.
Artificial nipples will rarely make things go better. They usually impede the progress and may even make baby refuse mother’s milk completely. And if the baby does not get enough milk, the mother’s breasts may become sore from the baby’s efforts.
Therefore, lactation aids are by far the best methods of supplementation if any is needed at all. Using a lactation aid will reduce the likelihood that the baby will refuse future breastfeeding sessions in lieu of the easier to use bottle. It is also more sanitary and much easier to use than the syringe method, finger method, cup feedings, or any other method. Remember, the more the baby nurses, the more the mother is likely to produce. It’s a simple case of supply and demand.
Lactation Aids Help Because:
• Mothers and babies both learn breastfeeding best by practicing breastfeeding.
• The baby obtains plenty of nutrition while breastfeeding through the lactation aid.
• The mother’s breasts will likely be induced to produce more milk while using the device, which may aid in quitting supplementation in the future.
• The baby is less likely to reject the breast later on in favor of bottles.
• There is more to breastfeeding than just the milk it provides.
How Do I Use the Lactation Aid?
It is best to have the use of a lactation device demonstrated and instructed by a lactation specialist. Especially if you are a first time mother or are new to breastfeeding. In any case, here are some basic instructions that should help you and your baby off to a good start.
1. Make sure your baby is latched on to the breast well and has nursed on both breasts at least once.
2. Gently ease the breast away from one corner of the baby’s mouth.
3. Hold the tube between your index finger and thumb and ease it into the corner of your baby’s mouth.
4. Insert the tube and gently guide it to the back of the baby’s mouth and towards the roof of their mouth.
5. If positioned correctly you will see the supplement flow down the tube very quickly as the baby begins to suck it up.
Tips for Using the Lactation Aid:
• The better your baby’s latch, the more milk they will receive from you.
• The more your baby nurses, the more milk you should produce. When you produce enough, you should be able to leave off using it.
• There is no need to pre-fill the feeding tube before inserting it. The baby will do a fine job of that.
• Proper latch of the baby along with proper position of the tube, the more likely the lactation aid can be discontinued sooner.
• The tube may be pre-taped to the breast before the baby latches on, but this is not always best.
• The supplement contain should be at the level of the baby’s mouth, not elevated.
• The tube only needs to be past the baby’s gum line and not past the end of the nipple for best results.
• Some babies may push the device out of their way with their tongues. If this happens, simply hold it in place with your finger.
• If the container functions best elevated above the baby’s head, consult your doctor or lactation specialist.
• It is best to use the aid every time you feed. However, some mothers find using it during the day and not at night to be enough.
• Smaller portions are better. Eight servings of an ounce each are better than two servings of four ounces.
• No need to cut off the end of the tube.
• It should only take about 15 to 20 minutes for the baby to finish off an ounce of supplement. If it takes longer, something is wrong. Quite possibly the baby has a poor latch, the tube is positioned wrong, or both.
• You can store the container in your shirt pocket or tucked into the nursing bra while feeding.
How Do I Wean My Baby from the Lactation Aid?
You should only wean the baby with the advice of your lactation specialist and doctor. You should also be under the supervision of your lactation specialist if you are using a device. Please consult your doctor or lactation specialist for more advice before weaning form the device.
However, here are some tips that should help with the process:
• Weaning the baby from the device could take a few days or a few weeks. Please don’t be discouraged, every baby is different. Do not try to force the weaning from the device. You milk should increase substantially in a week or two. However, the complete process may take up to eight weeks. Some mothers and babies have not been able to discontinue using the device. Sometimes things change rapidly, other times they can take time.
• Use the device only at the end. After the baby has finished the milk available at the breast, and you have used compression to aid them in obtaining all the milk from both breasts, then insert the device.
• You can lower the bottle up to 16 inches below the baby’s head to slow down the consumption of the supplement.
• Maintain contact with your midwife, doctor, pediatrician, and lactation specialist and ask for advice along the way.
• Wean the baby slowly to achieve best results.
While there are many reasons women do not want to use artificial nipples, many do not know they have options when it comes to feeding their baby. If a woman does not produce enough milk, or she is beginning relactating, or she is inducing lactation she may need to supplement the breast milk in a way that will still encourage the baby to suckle.
A lactation aid provides supplements, pre-expressed breast milk, glucose syrup, formula, glucose water, or other supplements right at the mother’s breast. It provides for the emotional support for both baby and mother that can only be found by direct skin-to-skin contact. It also can greatly aid in supplementing when not enough milk is produced.
Where Would You Like to Go Next?
…or learn more about Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby?
….or get tips on Lactation with Pregnancy?