Birth to Three, Oral-Motor & Feeding, Tips and Tricks

Feeding Week: Can I breastfeed my baby with Down syndrome?

In short  – Yes. Now to clarify –  I am not a lactation consultant. However, I have some resources if you are considering nursing your baby. My advice is personal – call and talk to the lactation consultant on the phone first. I needed help breast-feeding with my second son despite nursing my first (with a little emergency help from my friend Cory). I talked to several consultants on the phone over a period of a week but really “clicked” with one. She provided the encouragement I needed. From talking to many families some lactation consultants are more supportive than others at working through some of the issues children with Down syndrome face.

In Cincinnati we have the wonderful (and little known) gem – The Center for Breastfeeding Medicine. This center is available for any mother/baby duo and combines lactation consultation with breast-feeding medicine including evaluation of milk supply, treatment of the nipple, and mastitis. They have a great link to articles about breast-feeding that can be found here.

Here are some reliable and informative websites:

Breastfeeding a Baby with Down Syndrome from the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Breastfeeding an infant with Down syndrome Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota – *one of my favorites*

Is it possible to feed my baby who was born with Down syndrome?  The La Leche League’s brief but informative page on breast-feeding and Down syndrome.

Lact-Aid is a device used when you want to breast feed but there are problems like low-milk production, poor weight gain, or weak sucking. I’ve had several mothers use this successfully – My mom even used this 18 years ago when adopting Jacob to provide him the benefits of breastfeeding despite being adopted. As an adult I know realize how “hard-core” she was (Go Mom!).

Breastfeeding is a wonderful option when you have a baby with Down syndrome. It provides the earliest form of “oral-motor exercise” not to mention the nutritional and emotional benefits provided to mother and baby. If this is your first keep in mind, it takes about 3 weeks to fully get into the nursing groove. Take your time, grab a bottle of water, relax (I watched Ellen for a dose of humor), and enjoy your baby.

Thanks to Kelle Hampton for her permission to use this beautiful picture!

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2 thoughts on “Feeding Week: Can I breastfeed my baby with Down syndrome?”

  1. I breastfed my daughter with Down syndrome for a little over a year. It took her slightly longer to catch on to it than my typical older daughter but not much. She had the sucking reflex down fine but somehow “forgot” that in order to eat, one much open one’s mouth, LOL. Didn’t take long though and we were both better for it. Good luck with your precious baby!

  2. I loved this post. Thanks for helping new mothers and their babies with down syndrome. I have wonderful memories of nursing my children. Susan

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