When breastfeeding moms return to work, bottle use will usually be necessary depending on the age of your little one. If your child is not at least four months, you will probably need bottles to get them through the time that you are apart. If your little one will need to be able to take a bottle, there are factors that need to be considered to maintain the breastfeeding relationship. You would want to wait to introduce a breastfeeding friendly bottle until breastfeeding is well established (generally between 6-8 weeks) and practice pace feeding when using the bottle. Generally speaking, it is best for someone other than you to offer the bottle and your little one may not accept if you are even in the house.
The best time to offer the bottle is after breastfeeding is well established. This is generally somewhere after 6 weeks. If you know your little one will need to take a bottle at some point, you may want to introduce no later than 2-3 months of age so that they do not refuse to accept one altogether. We recommend that mom is not the one that gives the bottle as it is better that little one associate mom with direct breastfeeding. It is best that mom not be in the house with little one as sometimes they can sense or smell mom and refuse the bottle.
Suggested bottle types
As a general rule for bottles, you would want to choose something that resembles your own nipple. We recommend sticking with slow flow nipples as the flow of your breast does not change. You would want to choose a bottle that features a short teat and a wide base similar to a Playtex Nurser or a Nuk design. Some moms have had success with Avent and Tommee Tippee bottles as well. You do not want to use a nipple that has a straw-like teat and narrow base because it could alter the sucking pattern of your little one and cause difficulties/pain for you when you are nursing.
How much milk
Breastfed babies typically only consume about 2-5 ounces per nursing session at breast. Younger babies typically eat smaller quantities more often therefore, a 6 week old baby might consume 2-4 oz bottles every two to three hours while a 6 month old baby might consume 4-5 oz bottles every three to four hours depending on naps and the introduction of solids. During a normal day, most breastfed babies consume between 19-30 ozs of breastmilk, sometimes more during a growth spurt. You would want to look at the amount of time you will be away and the age of your little one to determine bottle size and number of bottles. Here is a milk calculator that will help you determine what you need
Pace feeding and why
Pace feeding can be a very important tool for the breastfeeding mother who wants to maintain her nursing relationship. You want each feeding to mimic a nursing session so that no preference to the bottle develops. While some babies can switch between bottle and breast without issue, other babies will not and a nursing strike may begin. It is important to do everything that you can to avoid a strike as it can be very stressful for both mother and child. When pace feeding, hold the bottle horizontally so that the baby has to work for the milk just as they would at the breast. It is also a good idea to take short breaks to burp and even switch sides. Paced bottle feeding does take time, generally at least 15 minutes, but can be an essential part of maintaining the breastfeeding relationship. When choosing a caregiver, you may want to discuss this process and make sure that they understand it is very important to utilize. Here is a great breastfed baby guide for your caregiver!
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