When you’re getting ready to go back to work – there are lots of things to think about – from choosing the right childcare to wondering if you’re ever going to fit back into your pre-baby work wardrobe! One thing I didn’t give too much thought to was how I was going to introduce a bottle to my breast-fed son – I just assumed it would be okay. My little guy was having none of it.
I’m not suggesting that moving from Boob to Bottle feeding has to be a battle; lots of babies will happily drink both expressed and formula from boob and bottle. But as we know, babies are all different.
Just because you’re going back to work it doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding, many women successfully combine both. In fact there are laws in place to help women do this – under Section 9 of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 women in employment who are breastfeeding are entitled to take time off work each day to breastfeed. A woman can choose to:
- Breastfeed in the workplace or express breast milk
- Have their working hours reduced (without loss of pay) to facilitate breastfeeding where facilities are not made available
- Take 1 hour (with pay) off work each day as a breastfeeding break
Extended maternity leave also now means that for many mums this is something that they don’t have to think about. By the time that they return to work their little one is on solids and their reliance on milk has lessened. But for other mums who return to work earlier, or who decide that they need to move onto a bottle, it can be a testing time when your little one is reluctant to give up the comfort of breast-feeding.
So – if you’re struggling right now here are tips from a variety of mums, lactation consultants and my own experience. As usual, there is a ton of advice out there – so just take what you think will work for you and your baby.
Straight to cup: some babies never have a bottle but just go straight from breast to cup feeding.
Dream feeds: if you’re giving a dream-feed some mums have sneaked in a bottle and their baby has happily drunk from it whilst fast asleep
Get others involved: many babies won’t take a bottle from you as they can smell your breast milk. Try leaving the room (or the house – babies can smell you from at least 20 feet away) and let Dad or grandparents try.
Avoid rushing in and feeding right away: try to leave some space between their refusal of the bottle and feeding them yourself – otherwise baby may learn that if they object strongly enough they’ll eventually get what they want. It can be really distressing to hear your baby cry when you know you can give them what they’re long for. I found leaving the house was the only way I could cope.
Power of Distraction: Lactation consultants recommend sitting them in a different position e.g. sitting up and leaning back on your chest whilst watching something outside, or the television. One mum told us that “… he took the bottle when my Dad let him play with his keys and sang to him”.
Timing: some mums find that trying to give a bottle before their baby gets too hungry is more effective, one mums shared “because he wasn’t hungry he was willing to experiment with the bottle and took it without too much fuss”.
The bigger picture: One mum shared “what I always kept in mind when I was going back to work was that breastfeeding is a 24 hour event and while I was away for 9 hrs some babies sleep that long at night. So as long as she was hydrated while I was at work I could make up the missed milk in the other 15 hrs I was with her”.
Topping up fluids: If your baby is already starting to take solids then expressed or formula milk can be added into food to ensure that they are hydrated.
Get support: your local breastfeeding group is a great place to get support and share ideas and tips. Even though what’s worked for one person may not work for you, at least you’ll know you’re not alone.
High Lipase: The bottle may not be the problem. It may be your milk. If you have high lipase your milk may smell sour or off when expressed. For more information speak to your public health nurse or check out this link http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/milkstorage/lipase-expressedmilk/
Stick with the same bottle: Your baby is not refusing that particular bottle or teat – he or she just would much prefer a breast. (Wish I’d known that one before I bought every bottle known to man!) If your baby takes a soother you can look for a teat with a similar shape. Some parents have found they can start the baby on the soother and then transfer him or her to the bottle.
Watch your emotions: Try to look and act happy and confident, and talk calmly, or even sing. If the baby senses that you are anxious or concerned then they’ll pick up on it.
Introduce a bottle early: from about 3 weeks onwards a bottle can be introduced as part of your feeding routine. We did this with our second son; however at around 3 months he decided he too was having none of it – as many babies do around this time. We kept going though and eventually he started accepting it again after a few weeks of persevering.
The standoff: This isn’t one that lactation consultants recommend as they suggest it makes feeding stressful and really does turn it into a battle. (But off the record – I did it and it worked). Of course no-one wants to see their baby distressed, so making sure that they aren’t dehydrated and are still having wet nappies is foremost).
Baby rice: this is the one that finally worked for me and came to me in a flash of inspiration towards the end of the standoff. My son had already started taking some baby rice so I put some on the end of the teat. Once he got the teat into his mouth he happily drank from the bottle.
We really hope the transition from boob to bottle isn’t a battle for you. But if it is – try some of these out – they might just work for you and your little one. Remember nothing lasts forever and what seems like a huge issue right now will pass in time.
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