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Nipple Confusion: What Are The Red Flags?

what is nipple confusion?

Find out what nipple confusion is and why it can interfere with breastfeeding. Also, learn how to avoid an early interruption of breastfeeding.

Many mothers consider breastfeeding to be one of the most difficult tasks of motherhood. That’s because until your baby engages in suckling, you may face some difficulties that can start with the introduction of artificial devices. This could lead to the infamous nipple confusion.

Although the term is quite common in the world of motherhood, there are many doubts about the subject. So keep reading and check out some information about what is nipple confusion and what the red flags are.

What is nipple confusion?

Nipple confusion is the term used to characterize the difficulty the baby may have to suckle at the breast. It usually happens after they are introduced to artificial nipples (or dummies) and start using them, such as a pacifier, the bottle or the silicone nipple for breastfeeding.

When the baby uses these devices, physiological changes occur in suction that can interfere with breastfeeding. For instance, during breastfeeding, the baby needs to perform four movements with their jaw:

  • Opening;
  • Protrusion;
  • Closing;
  • Retrusion. 

In addition, there is constant stimulation of muscles and lips. However, with artificial nipples, the baby starts to perform only two movements: opening and closing the jaw.

The amount of muscles involved in the process also decreases and there is no stimulus for the baby to keep their mouth open. This physiological change makes sucking “easier”, which can make the baby no longer want to make an effort when suckling at the mother’s breast.

What are the nipple confusion signs?

Now that you know what nipple confusion is, check out the red flags to avoid your child’s refusing to breastfeed!

Refusal to breastfeed

Greater difficulty at suckling can result in the refusal of the mother’s breast. This is one of the first warnings that mothers need to be aware of when their baby uses artificial nipples.

Difficulties at latching 

In addition to not wanting to suckle at the breast, another frequent sign that little ones usually present is the difficulty of maintaining the latch. It happens because physiological differences in suction can interfere with the baby’s timing when taking the breast and suckling.

As they don’t need to keep their mouth open with the artificial nipples or make movements with their tongue, they can try to repeat this pattern during breastfeeding. The consequence is the difficulty at latching, which can lead to fissures and pain in the nipples.

Myths and truths about nipple confusion

It’s time to unravel some myths and truths about nipple confusion so you know which information is correct and which is not. And if you want to learn more about this subject, on the Kinedu app you can find classes about breastfeeding and other related topics — check it out! 

Baby bottles that mimic the breast and orthodontic pacifiers do not cause nipple confusion

Myth: Any type of bottle or pacifier can cause nipple confusion from the very first use.

Artificial teats associated with the bottle increases the chance of breastfeeding interruption

Truth: According to several researches compiled by the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the use of artificial nipples associated with the bottle increases the possibility of early breastfeeding interruption. 

The use of pacifiers can cause reduced milk production

Truth: The baby tends to satisfy their need for sucking using the pacifier, which can decrease stimulation and, consequently, milk production.

Whether you are preparing to be a mother or starting motherhood, it is very important to know about nipple confusion. That means learning everything that involves breastfeeding to take care of your baby’s development and avoid early breastfeeding interruption.

Would you like to know a little more about nipple confusion? Remember to download the Kinedu app and ask your questions directly to a lactation consultant!

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