Four steps to a smooth feeding transition
It may feel like your return to work is weeks away but you still need to prepare both yourself and your baby for the big change. “Whether you’ll be using express or formula milk, you need to think ahead,” says Jules Jones, NCT breastfeeding counsellor tutor (nct.org.uk). “It’s a good idea to start establishing a routine of introducing a bottle six weeks before your first day at work. This allows you to get used to expressing or practise giving your little one formula,” adds Jules. Don’t rush it – this is a gradual process.
When expressing, it’s about getting used to the process and managing this efficiently. “When you begin, you’re not going to sit down on the first day and express a 300ml bottle,” says Jules. “In fact, you may get nothing more than a teaspoon. It’s completely normal because the pump is a mechanical object and it takes time for your body to adjust.” Don’t be disheartened, instead hold your baby near you or feed him on one side while expressing on the other. It takes time for the milk production to step up, so express several times during the day rather than trying for an hour,” says Jules.
Learning your baby’s rhythms will help you to identify a good time in the day to try a bottle. “By six months your baby’s probably got a routine, and you need to tap into that,” says Jules. “If he or she has a snack at 10am that could be a good time to introduce a bottle.” It’s a process that could take days or even weeks. “When you’re breastfeeding your baby manages it all by himself, but when you’re trying to have a supply of milk ready, you have to manage it,” says Jules. You need to remember you won’t get it right everyday, it’s a case of trial and error.
Using a bottle is a new skill your baby has to learn, so he may not take to it straightaway. “If it’s your breast milk, it may be easier because the fluid is familiar, and there are breast-shaped bottles out there could help,” adds Jules.
After a while you’ll notice your baby’s routine changing and you need to adapt to it. “If your baby’s feed is midday and you’ll be at work, then that’s the time you need to have a bottle ready to feed him or her with,” says Jules. This will also be the time of day you should use your pump to keep your body in a similar rhythm.
Returning to work is a life change and a challenge for any mum. “Leaving your baby for the first time is a very emotional process. Just persevere and you’ll make the transition work,” says Jules.
Children are subject to new experiences everyday, so as long as you’re calm and patient about the change, you can make it a success.
“A month before going back to work I began making the change from breast to bottle with my son. I had previously tried several bottles and teats, but my friends advised me to pick one brand and stick with it. I chose Tommee Tippee’s Closer to Nature bottle and after three days of trying, he took it.”
Natalie Wickenden, 31, from Tonbridge, Kent, mum to Jacob, 7 months
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