We agree: breast is best. But we also acknowledge that nursing can be a huge challenge for some moms and babies, especially for first-time parents. It can be extremely painful, latching can be tricky, and there's that nagging worry if your baby is getting enough milk. As a mom, you do what you have to do to give your child proper nutrition. Take this one mom's story of alternative feeding.
Carriage House Birth posted a photo of a mother feeding her baby breast milk. "Syringe feeding a sleepy newborn some colostrum," its caption read. It was taken 17 hours after first-time mom Rebecca McKeefer, from Brooklyn, New York, gave birth to her daughter Andromeda.
Rebecca, who is a doula, recounted the story of how it happened: A lactation consultant came to her hospital room to ask if she needed help. At that time, she was expressing colostrum, but that her little one wasn’t latching. The lactation consultant then brought in little cups and syringes to help her get some breast milk. "I expressed some colostrum into a cup, then put it into the syringe and fed her little drops at a time," Rebecca, who did not plan for syringe-feeding, told The Huffington Post.
Rebecca says the way her baby got a first taste of her breast milk was incredible. "In that moment, I felt so empowered and happy to be able to feed my baby--even if it wasn’t in the 'traditional' way, it didn’t matter to me! I knew it might take some time," Rebecca said.
A few minutes after getting her breast milk, Andromeda got a bit more energy and actually tried to latch. Rebecca had to do a mix syringe feeding and breastfeeding for the first week.
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Now at 3 weeks old, Andromeda is already exclusively breastfeeding. Rebecca hopes that moms who see the photo will "recognize that things might not always go as planned in a perfect picture, to be encouraged to go with the flow and let go of expectations, to meet their baby where they are at with no judgement but just with compassion and love.”
Syringe-feeding (without the needle, of course) is not new, but Rebecca, who is a birth and postpartum doula, said she needed someone to suggest it to her when she was having difficulty nursing her newborn daughter. The pressure to do everything right got to her, Rebecca tells Baby Center. She had known in her heart that she wanted to give her baby breast milk but didn't want to risk Andromeda getting nipple confusion if she offered the bottle right away. Rebecca stresses, "It’s amazing how much we all need help and reminding, even when we know things. Support is key."
In case you need to do syringe-feeding, first make sure that you wash and dry your hands before you start. Prepare everything you need ahead so you can focus on your baby's feeding. You can easily do syringe-feeding using just one hand after some practice. Here's how it's done:
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1 Prop your baby on a nursing pillow, with his head on the same level of your breast without you having to hold it. Position the needle-less syringe (with milk) on your breast so that its tip is on top of your nipple. You can also lay your baby on your lap, and then prop up your knees up so he's slightly elevated.
2. Allow your baby to latch on to your breast, or offer your pinky finger for him to practice his suck reflex on. Then, gently insert the the tip of the syringe in the corner of your baby's mouth. Note: Your target is to offer the milk in between their gum and inside cheek or onto their tongue to minimize risks for choking.
3. Gently push the syringe, allowing no more than 0.2 milliliters of milk into your baby’s mouth at a time. You can time it when your baby's jaw drops while nursing. That way, the milk comes out of the syringe just in time for him to swallow. Repeat until feeding is done.