Breastfeeding is one of the best things that Mom can do for baby. For breastfeeding Moms who must return to work, the stress of having to leave baby is often compounded by the challenge of continuing to breastfeed while separated for extended periods of time. It is important that moms stimulate their breasts in order to keep making milk and also so they can have their expressed breastmilk to leave behind for their baby.
Based on a survey Lansinoh did recently of breastfeeding Moms, going back to work is one of the reasons Moms may be reluctant to initiate breastfeeding, or continue it when they return. According to the CDC, even though initiation breastfeeding rates are up, less than half of Moms are breastfeeding after six months and only about a quarter are still active at 12 months. Much of this could be contributed to returning to work. And we get it, it’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. For breastfeeding Moms, returning to work means making time for pumping in order to make enough milk to feed baby while away. This is a topic we have discussed frequently (Planning to breast pump? Moms give advice for making the transition back to work, Lactation transportation).
However, the other critical component to continuing to feed baby while away is finding a bottle and nipple that your breastfed infant will take and the challenge of ensuring her baby will not prefer the artificial nipple over Mom.
The good news is – success is achievable! Rest assured Mom, it IS possible to go back to work and keep breastfeeding! All it takes is some preparation, determination and drive.
Below are some frequently asked questions that I often hear from moms returning to work.
1) I need to introduce a bottle so baby can eat while I’m at work, but I’m unsure when to start and what to do.
Once baby is about four weeks old, and/or a good breastfeeding relationship has been established, you will want to prepare for when you and your baby will be apart. It’s a bit tricky because you don’t want to introduce a bottle earlier because breastfeeding should be very firmly established so baby can teach your body how much milk to make and so baby does not develop a preference for the artificial nipple. On the other hand, you don’t want to wait too long and risk baby refusing a bottle. The sweet spot tends to be around four weeks, but each baby is different. Also know that if there is no need to introduce a bottle, you don’t have to and many moms and baby feed at the breast and never introduce a bottle.
2) How can I find a bottle my baby will take, but still want the breast when we are together? I’ve heard stories about babies rejecting the breast because a bottle is easier.
When you are looking for a bottle to use, make sure it requires baby to mimic her or his natural feeding pattern of latching on, using peristaltic and natural “wave-like” tongue motions to extract breastmilk, and swallow. This can help ensure she will go from breast to bottle to breast with minimal confusion. By using the same actions as when at the breast, she is less likely to be confused or develop a preference for the artificial nipple. The Lansinoh® mOmma® Feeding Bottle with NaturalWave Nipple is clinically proven to help maintain established breastfeeding patterns and allows baby to mimic these same natural actions. However, nothing can be like feeding at the breast and no artificial nipple can ever completely replicate the nurturing that happens when baby is at the breast.
3) What’s the best way to introduce baby to a bottle?
Each baby is different, so there’s no set rule on the best way to give baby his or her first bottle. Because breastfeeding creates such an intense bond and preference for the breast, it might help to have Dad or another person try to give baby a bottle when you are out of the room or house. If baby can’t see or smell you, she may be more willing to try a bottle when she’s hungry. Don’t get discouraged if baby won’t take a bottle at first. Just be patient and continue to nurse to ensure baby is getting the nourishment and nurturing she needs.
4) When’s the best time to introduce a bottle?
It is important to wait until breastfeeding is firmly established – usually between four to six weeks—before introducing an artificial nipple and bottle. Some moms prefer to bypass a bottle completely and many babies go right from the breast to a sippy or straw cup and that is ok.
5) What do I do if baby won’t take a bottle?
Some babies may have no issues and take a bottle with no complaints. Other babies may put up a fight and even go on a mini strike when Mom is gone and will only want to feed at the breast when mom and baby are back together. Each baby is different, so don’t be worried if your baby won’t take a bottle. Sometimes baby has to be hungry enough to take the bottle, and sometimes baby needs extra time to get used to the nipple. It’s ok to try different bottles and different positions. Try not to position baby the same way he or she breastfeeds if baby seems to have big issues with a bottle. But keep trying – baby will eventually take a bottle. It just means that she loves breastfeeding, which is a very good thing.
Do you have some tips to share on getting baby to take a bottle? Share them below!
Thanks, and have a great weekend!
P.S. Do you need to stock up on bottles or other breastfeeding accessories? For a limited time only, ALL Lansinoh breastfeeding accessories are buy one get one50% off at Babies R Us!