Why breastfeed a baby with Down syndrome?

November 2nd, 2010

As requested, here is a quick cut-and-paste job of facts from many sources that motivate us to stick with this job.  The lactation consultant who has given me advice over the phone agreed that when someone says it didn’t work for them, it’s because they decided to stop trying somewhere along the line.  Verity will get there if we don’t quit!

Thank you to the friend who gave me this word in season!  “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

“Breastfeeding requires different involvement of orofacial muscles than bottle feeding.  This greater involvement provides excellent stimulation of your baby’s orofacial musles and gives her a real developmental advantage.   The exercise of breastfeeding itself will improve your baby’s muscle strength and control, which will help compensate for the low tone.

Breastfeeding will give her jaw greater stability.  The shape of the breast makes her hold her mouth open wider than she would for a bottle nipple.  This open position helps to keep her jaw from wobbling.

Breastfeeding helps with lip closure and can discourage tongue thrusting as the child gets older.  It prepares your baby for eating other foods and for development of speech skills.

Breastfeeding your baby will give her important frequent, regular skin-to-skin contact, stimulating both sides of her face and body.  Sensory input and stimulation is essential for babies with low muscle tone and helps them develop their capabilities more fully.
There are special positions for nursing and burping your baby that will help her develop her neck and shoulder muscles so that, as time goes on, she will be able to hold up her head more steadily.
During breastfeeding you should hold your baby in a position in which her mouth is lower than her ears (with baby’s chin tucked slightly) in order to improve long-term oral-motor skill levels.  Also, breastfed babies have fewer problems with ear infections, which babies with Down syndrome are more prone to get.”
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4 Responses to “Why breastfeed a baby with Down syndrome?”

  1. Joy Horton says:

    That is FASCINATING, Susanna! I had no idea of those sorts of benefits (to all babies but esp. ones with DS). Oh, our God is such an awesome God, isn’t He? WOW!!!

  2. Neysa says:

    You are doing an awesome job!  Breastfeeding isn’t easy but is oh so rewarding and such a wonderful gift to your children (but you know that already)!  Verity is so Blessed to have such a determined momma!

  3. Andrea Mann says:

    Susanna,
      I breastfed my adopted girly with the help of a sns.  She is low tone and has feeding issues, but they didn’t become apparent until she was two.  I always wonder how much my breastfeeding helped that to be the case, and possibly prevented her from having to have a g-tube. 
       Keep up the great work, and we are praying for you and Verity on this adventure. :)

    Andrea Mann

  4. Shari~hotfudgecustard says:

    Thank, Susanna!  I can pray better knowing more.  I’ve been praying for the Holy Spirit to speak to Verity about working with you in this and in all things as she grows.

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