Done Incorrectly, Giving A Bottle Will Harm Your Breastfeeding
Did you know that one of the surest ways to lose your milk supply is to give your baby a bottle? Here’s why:
Like all humans, babies like instant gratification. And with a bottle they get that – milk flows at the first suck, it flows at a constant rate and doesn’t stop until the bottle is empty.
And once they have a taste of it, it’s all the baby wants!
A baby who becomes hooked on the flow of a bottle, will become increasingly frustrated during breastfeeding. He doesn’t understand why at the breast there’s no milk flowing at the beginning then there’s flow, but then that slows down for a while, then more flow. It’s frustrating compared to Bottle Easy Street! Baby will be fussy and cry at the breast and can quickly train his mother to give him a bottle after he “puts in his time” at the breast.
This begins the cycle that will tear down your milk supply. But this doesn’t have to happen to you if you use the bottle breastfeeding system.
The Bottle Breastfeeding System
You probably need to give a bottle because to one of two reasons:
- You’ve been directed to supplement by a health care professional because of a weight gain issue.
- Or you have to be away from baby and bottle needs to be given in your absence.
If you’re in the first camp, you’re really better off using a SNS System which prevents the nipple confusion and flow preference problems that come from using a bottle incorrectly. If you need to use a bottle until you can get an SNS or you have to be away from your baby when the bottle is given, here’s the rules of the bottle breastfeeding system:
Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #1. Use the slowest flowing nipples you can find. Sometimes they’re marked as a 0 (zero) or labeled “newborn.”
Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #2. Pick a bottle nipple that’s most shaped (length and width) like your nipple. (This may help with nipple preference and nipple confusion.)
Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #3. Latch baby on to the bottle much like you latch baby to the breast – get the nipple back in the mouth so that his lips are around the base of the nipple. When you look at baby’s mouth while latched on to the bottle, it should look much the same as when baby is latched on to the breast. If you will not be the one giving the bottle, you’ll need to educate your caregiver(s) on exactly what the looks like. Be sure to show them what the right way as well as the wrong way look like. Print this out and give it to them.
Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #4. Sit baby up and hold the bottle level with the floor to reduce the flow. (This Bottle Breastfeeding Rule is used to prevent flow preference.) Pretend as though the bottle is a breast that has letdowns. After latching baby, let him suck a bit without much (or any) milk in the nipple. Don’t’ worry about baby sucking air – they swallow air all the time and it will just come back up as a burp. After he’s sucked for a little time, gently lift the bottle to fill the nipple with milk (this is the letdown). Let him suck for a minute or two then drain the milk out of the nipple again. Repeat for the entire bottle. Again educate your caregiver if you will not be the one giving the bottle.
Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #5. Is only if you are giving the bottle for supplement reasons (not if you’ll be away from baby). The rule is: use less supplement. If baby needs 1 ounce of supplement per feeding, only give about three quarters then put baby on the breast. Once he gets fussy, switch sides. The goal is for him to end, satisfied and happy with the breast and to associate those good feelings of being full and content with the breast. If after nursing on both sides, he is still fussy, you can finish with the bottle.
Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #6. is only for moms who will be away from baby while the bottle is given. To maintain your milk supply you need to pump the same amount of milk that is given in the bottle at about the same that the bottle is given.
Final Thoughts On Bottle Breastfeeding
There are many dangers to a mom’s milk supply when giving a bottle, so if you need to give a bottle be sure you follow the simple bottle breastfeeding rules above to keep the risks to a minimum.