In my last post I wrote about a mother I spoke with who had
been pumping and bottle-feeding for 3 weeks. She was convinced that
breastfeeding was no longer possible for her and her baby.
Many mothers think there’s no turning back once they’ve stopped breastfeeding. But because babies are hardwired to breastfeed,
it’s always possible for babies to breastfeed later. In Australia, for
example, babies cannot be adopted until they are 6 to 12 months old,
but even so, many adoptive mothers report successfully transitioning
their babies to the breast, even after a year or more of
bottle-feeding. This makes sense if you think of breastfeeding as a
survival skill nature builds into babies.
I remember one mother I worked with during my 10 years in private
practice whose 5-month-old had experienced neurological damage during
what should have been routine surgery. This mother had been pumping her
milk during the months since the surgery and had ample milk
production. She arranged for a home visit with me to help her devise a
game plan to bring her baby back to breastfeeding. She decided that in
addition to the therapy her baby was receiving, he needed the comfort
and physical stimulation only breastfeeding could provide. I pulled out
my bag of tricks and—to her joy—before long her baby was fully
What tricks did I use? Putting baby to breast while he slept
provided the first breakthrough. When a baby accepts the breast during
sleep, this can be repeated at every nap and night feeding to lower
resistance to breastfeeding during waking hours. Whether awake or
asleep, holding the baby tummy down on mother’s body while in
semi-reclined positions releases the feeding reflexes that spur babies
to breastfeed. (See this website’s banner drawing as an example of one
of these positions.) These simple approaches can work wonders, as long as the breast remains a happy place and baby does not feel pressured to feed there.
If you’re a mother wondering if it is “too late” for breastfeeding or
if you work with new mothers in this situation, don’t despair. No
matter how difficult breastfeeding once was and no matter how long it
has been since the baby took the breast, it is almost always possible to
make breastfeeding work. A healthy milk production helps but is not
absolutely necessary. I often remind mothers that babies eagerly accept
pacifiers (aka dummies), which provide no milk at all. The breast
provides a place to suckle and so much more!
i started bfing after epping for 2 1/2 months! i started at night because i found a woman online who said she had started at 3 months. i couldnt epp anymore, i hated it and i was at my witts end! praise the lord i found that post! we have been exclusivly bfing since!