"My baby eats all the time! I think I need to give him formula to satisfy him.”
“When my baby falls asleep with a pacifier, he seems much more satisfied, but I’m always engorged.”
“No matter how often she eats, I feel like she wants to eat again in 10 minutes! I must not have enough milk.”
It’s a very common issue: mommies think that because their breastfed baby just wants to eat and eat (and eat and eat), that they’re either not producing enough milk, or the baby just needs way more than mom can make. I’m here to tell you, in most cases, it’s just not true!
Babies have this neat hormone in their system that tells them when they’re full (high levels) and hungry (low levels). It’s called cholecystokinin (CCK), and it aids in digestion and gives feelings of satiation and well-being in mom and baby. When a baby nurses for a good amount of time, their levels rise and they may get that milk drunk look or just fall asleep. After a nice little nap, their CCK levels drop a bit, so they want to nurse again. They may not actually drink, but just suck until they fall back asleep.
Giving a pacifier can trick this hormone, since it’s created by sucking, but can mess with your supply, and make baby cranky when she wakes up. Breastfeeding your baby when she’s fussy is the best way to restore those full CCK levels and make a happy baby once again. It’s been found that babies with colic have lower levels of CCK in their systems, usually because of an abnormal amount of spitting up. These babies may need a pacifier to help calm them and raise their CCK, when nursing just won’t cut it. The most important thing to remember when using a pacifier is “If you have to, use it, don’t abuse it, quickly lose it.” (Dr. Sears)CCK is nature’s alarm clock; a very well organized “schedule” to keep your baby well fed and build up your supply. So keep feeding that baby on cue, don’t give that unnecessary bottle or pacifier, and you’ll find yourself in a happy nursing relationship for months (or years) to come.