I actually heard this from the first pediatrician we went to. He said I only had to let Dylan feed 15-20 minutes on a side, because after that he was only using me as a pacifier. I know what he means. When Dylan is sleepy, he’ll suck for about 10 minutes in a deep “I’m getting food from this” way. Then he’ll mostly fall asleep but still be doing a really shallow suck for comfort.
That doesn’t make me a pacifier, though.
That makes me a mama.
A pacifier is a plastic object specifically designed to mimic the human body. It is the epitome of a parent replacement item. Once I tried a pacifier to sooth Dylan when he was upset during a diaper change. I joked to Joshua later, “I let Dylan use a pacifier as a boobie.” That’s really the only direction the comparison can go.
“He’s just using you as a pacifier.” What does that mean? It is about rugged individualism? I’ve got to get my baby independent from me as soon as possible? Is it about consumerism? Nothing is right with the world if there’s not some plastic involved? Fuck that noise.
I’ve got no judgments about using a pacifier now and then, although I think it should be carefully considered. We used a pacifier with Dylan on his first couple of car trips, because he was so upset at being in the carseat. He’s used to the carseat now, but if he got upset in the car in the future, I would consider using the pacifier more. Car travel is sometimes really difficult with kids and can take a bit of management. I also tried using the pacifier when Dylan would have nighttime diaper changes. He normally loves being on the changing table, but he hates it in the middle of the night. Instead of continuing with the pacifier, I’ve started padding his diaper so he can make it through the night with no changes.
I’ve also got no judgments about taking baby off the boob before ou[1. “Ou” is a non-gendered pronoun.] is done sucking. Breastfeeding is a dance within the mother-child dyad and doesn’t have to be a set amount of time or until the child pops ouself off every time. Besides, how often and how long to make a breastfeeding session is highly cultural. We’re used to 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours in this culture. In other cultures, baby sucks for 5 minutes 50-100 times a day. I make sure to put Dylan to my breast anytime it seems like that’s what he wants or needs, but I sometimes take him off before he takes himself off – because my nipple is a bit sore, or because I want to do something else.
The most amazing thing to me about having Dylan is that everything he needs can come from my body: his food, his comfort, warmth, safety, health boosts, the sights and smells and textures that he prefers. There’s nothing wrong with using a pacifier if that’s a tool I find useful. But there’s no reason to use one just because.
Dylan doesn’t use me as a pacifier. He uses me as his mama. Which is just perfect, since that’s what I am.
I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
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