The move from breast-feeding to bottle-feeding isn’t always an easy one, as one of our forum users, Ramzy3233, has shared. She popped this post up:
“I have been exclusively breastfeeding for the past month. My daughter isn’t gaining enough weight and her doctor wants me to start supplementing to see exactly how much she is eating.
“When is the best time to switch to a bottle and what bottle do you recommend using?”
And we got some really great tips from other mums.
What did our mums suggest?
As our forum is full of mums who have been through the usual parenting issues, Ramzy3233’s plea for help didn’t go unnoticed, and generated some really helpful suggestions.
“I swapped over in about a week,” says Joanne P. “Used Savoy cabbage leaves to soothe inside my bra.
She also suggested using peppermint capsules which are known to dry up milk. And – another top tip or two: “Don’t allow shower water to stimulate breasts, have baths to soothe swollen breasts. Wear your bra tighter. Just until milk goes.”
Others of you made the transition a bit quicker.
Debbie S recalls: “I just switched to formula, didn’t do it gradually as it was too sore to continue!”
Emma H echoes this: “Do it quickly, don’t touch ur boobs at all as they need to stop producing. And just take ur time with baby to get used [to it].
“Got my husband to do the feeds until my milk went as baby could smell it from me! I was uncomfortable for a day or two but no issues.”
And finally – this interesting bit of advice from Jessica W:
“Let your partner feed initially as my little one wouldn’t take bottle off me at first because he smelt milk on me.”
A word from the expert
As well as some great ideas from our mums, we asked NCT breastfeeding counsellor and tutor Jules Jones to share her tips for a smooth move to the bottle. Here’s what she suggests:
1. Plan ahead
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.
“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.
2. Learn to express
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.
3. Make the change
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 every day, so as long as you’re calm and patient about the change, you can make it a success.