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Facebook page, Supply Line Breastfeeding Awareness Project, showcases mothers who are unable to breastfeed the traditional way because of low milk supply or other breastfeeding difficulties, and instead use a supplemental nursing device to feed their babies.

Bridget Burke-Purdy, a mum of four from Canada, was unable to nurse her third baby Rowan due to cancer treatments. So she ended up feeding him with the tube taped right to her finger.

The method, while relatively unknown, is not actually that rare: It’s called “finger feeding,” and it’s used when a newborn is having trouble latching onto the breast.

Traditional finger feeding, is usually only used for a day or two in order to transition a baby back to full breastfeeding.

In Bridget’s case, she ended up finger feeding her son long-term.

Shortly before her third son, Rowan, was born that she was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Her cancer treatments meant that she would not be able to breastfeed baby Rowan, which broke her heart since breastfeeding had been such an important experience for her as a mother. She’d happily breastfed her previous babies successfully, and into their toddler years.

“Not being able to nurse Rowan was the only thing that cancer stole from me,” Bridget shares with Babble.

She told Babble, “With finger feeding we could cuddle up close with nothing between us, it was skin to skin; it made me feel like I was necessary to the equation.  Because of this skin-to-skin contact, coupled with suckling action on my finger, it caused a release of oxytocin in my body that helped us bond since I hadn’t been able to care for him when he was first born.”

Bridget went on to feed Rowan for 2½ years this way (she was able to use her own pumped milk once her cancer treatments ended). And as Bridget shared in a more recent post on the Supply Line Breastfeeding Awareness Project page, Rowan never took to breastfeeding, even when it was safe for him to nurse directly from Bridget.

Bridget even tandem fed Rowan and her newborn baby, Everly. As Bridget explains, Everly was able to nurse directly at the breast because Bridget’s cancer treatments were long over.

Women truly are amazing and inspirational!

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  • i have never seen anything like this! this is incredible

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  • I cannot imagine being unable to breast feed your baby :( I always had such an enjoyable time breastfeeding my kids

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  • My goodness, that sure is amazing.

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  • Yes, finger feeding has been around but not introduced to mothers who can’t breastfeed successfully. It’s a real shame. Midwives should encourage this method to mothers who would like to use this method. The drawback is it can be very time consuming for the mother. Well done to mothers who fingerfeed their babies!

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  • Wow, whilst I’ve never heard of this before it’s wonderful that this Mum could breastfeed this way and that cancer didn’t take everything from her.

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  • Very Interesting article. Interesting who she could finger feed but not breastfeed unless it wasn’t safe for the baby to latch on.

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  • I had never heard of this method of feeding.

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  • An amazing lady and a wonderful story!

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  • Beautiful and inspiring ! Glad Brigit got fingerfeed Rowan for 2,5 yrs and that it worked so well for them.

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  • I’ve never heard of finger feeding before but it’s a wonderful alternative for a Mum who is unable to breastfeed for whatever reason. I love the idea.

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  • Thanks for sharing this fascinating story on finger feeding.

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  • Yet another thing I did not know about. Amazing. thanks for sharing.

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  • How amazing. I AM IMPRESSED. great FOR MUMS WHO cant feed the usual way.

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  • My midwife (new Zealand trained) recently showed me this technique when I Mastitis the week after delivering my second child. It is a good technique.

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  • Wow, I have never heard of this.

    Reply

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