Can Early Pacifier Use Destabilize Breasfeeding?

Although some parents swear by them and some swear at them–pacifiers are a nearly universal symbol of babyhood. A new study by French researchers suggests what many have already warned: The early use of pacifiers can be associated with shorter duration of breastfeeding. The study analyzed data from visiting nurses who assess and assist all new mothers in France that are typically in the family’s home around eight days after birth. The health visitors who were specially trained in breastfeeding issues, specifically noted whether the baby was being offered a pacifier. It was found that at least two-thirds were. Apparently, French study authors have noted early pacifier use correlated with shorter breastfeeding duration. They have advised that mothers wishing to nurse their babies to hold off on offering the pacifier in the first few weeks after birth. 

At most U.S. hospitals, the nurses still use pacifiers, often without parental notification or consent during the earliest hours and days of a baby’s life. Most mothers are fairly certain this was the case when their children were born although nobody ever mentioned it to them one way or the other. Most are massive nursers and refuse the pacifier at home (they also refuse bottles), so it is unlikely that their early introduction interrupted their nursing relationship. It would be interesting to see a study like this in the U.S. Some lactation consultants here warn against their use. They say that there are nipple confusion issues, but others hail them as a way for a baby to get its suck on while your nipples rest. 

What do you say? Do you think pacifiers help or hinder the nursing cause? 


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