Breastfeeding and Bottles

I wanted to write about how we got our breastfed baby to take a bottle and how I feel about that. Maybe you are struggling to get your baby to take a bottle, looking for a rest from breastfeeding once in a while, having a tough time pumping much milk.

There has been a bit of pressure on me to make sure that my baby takes a bottle. Much of this pressure comes from me; how do I do everything I need to do if I am breastfeeding every 1-2 hours? (yep, that's what my 6 month old still asks for, day and night. It gets tiring). My baby's dad wants to be able to care for us both and give me a break. Our family/friends want to babysit. This all requires the baby accepting a non-boob form of calorie intake. 

I started pumping at 2 weeks and we introduced a bottle and dummy at 6 weeks (as recommended, so as not to create nipple confusion - no idea if it would have done if we had offered it earlier). Kellymom is such a good resource for this stuff if you want actual advice and not ramblings. 

I've never been able to pump very effectively, getting a consistent 3 ounces each session from both breasts in total for however long I pump (I wouldn't pump longer than 20 mins each side because my sanity). It's always good to remember that the amount you pump is not an indicator of how much your baby is drinking. 

To up my pump volume - so as to be able to take a break, and give over a bit of  responsibility - I've tried: different flange sizes, warmed flanges, soft shells, hard shells, electric pump, double, single, manual pump (2 types), hand expressing, compressions, different times of day and night (waking between 1 and 3am for a few nights) with baby feeding at the same time, in the same room, in different room, eating more, fenugreek, lactation foods, upping my water intake, pumping straight after feeding to collect a bit each time, pumping before feeds when I was fullest.

It has actually made me feel lots better to list that out, I kind of thought I haven't tried hard enough, and maybe I haven't by some people's standards, but I have by mine.

I found it too much for me, I stopped pumping when he was 4 months old. We didn't want to give him formula yet. This meant he forgot how to use a bottle. Gah.

We've been working on him taking a bottle again and have been using formula to do that. 

We bought some premade bottles of Aptamil; I asked the health visitor for the best type and she said premixed bottles (not brand specific) were the closest to breast milk in terms of digestibility, and as we were not going to give it often (6 ounces a week or fortnight was the plan), it wasn't going to be too expensive. Formula is not the same as breast milk, and it should not be used without first talking to a health professional. If you want to continue breastfeeding be careful not to supplement too often as your milk supply is created to meet demand. 

My husband spent a few evenings a month trying to get him to take a bottle, with slowish progress he will now take 4 ounces of formula from a bottle at one time. Which makes me feel good and bad in equal measure. 

It made me cry tears of loss, pride and deep affection the first few times I saw my husband feeding him. Loss of those early days, loss of his unwavering need for only me, loss of my ideals of perfect. And so much pride in how grown up he looked holding his bottle, how hard my husband had worked to get to this point (including bad projectile vom onto his emetephobic shoulders, poor lad). And then, their eyes locking, seeing how happy it made my partner, how needed and important. My heart burst with love for them both. 

I'm not even talking about how I think I should be boycotting these brands for the horrendous infant death rates caused by their lies and underhanded tactics for profit. 

Just a bottle of formula right?