Both of my kids had trouble breastfeeding at first, although for different reasons. For the both of them, I had to to figure out a way to transition the bottle drinking newborns (drinking both expressed breastmilk and formula), to latching onto me and breastfeeding.
Both of my babies were c-section babies. Their deliveries resulted in healthy mother and baby which is what matters most. However, it also meant that we didn’t have the immediate skin to skin after the delivery (which optimizes breastfeeding).
-me and baby were separated for a for 5 days because he was sent to NICU
-my breastmilk supply didn’t come in until DAY 9
-my breastmilk supply didn’t come in until DAY 7
-baby had a slight tongue tie which prevented him from latching properly
I wanted to get both of my kids to breastfeed. I wanted them to prefer the breast first, but if they needed to take a bottle, they would. I didn’t want nipple confusion. I wanted nipple indifference.
I used the tips below to finally get my babies to prefer the boob first. At about 6 weeks, Baby #1 successfully transitioned to wanting to nurse exclusively. After learning what to do with Baby #1, Baby #2 successfully transitioned to breastfeeding exclusively at about 3 weeks old. I continued to offer the boob only until the last week of my maternity leave. At the point, we re-introduced the bottle (of expressed breast milk).
Here’s how I got both babies to go from bottle fed to exclusively breastfed.
I held out until my baby was super hungry. If he fussed a little, I ignored it. Once he was crying, I offered the boob. If he still fussed, I switched sides and offered the other boob. If he still fussed… then, he would get the bottle.
I made sure my milk was flowing. For some reason, my breastmilk supply takes days to appear. Even though the nurses kept telling me that “baby’s getting something”, his diapers and constant cries for hunger told a different story. I pumped every 2-3 hours until I finally got an about an ounce per boob. That’s when I knew my milk came in.
Kept Breastmilk/Formula Kind of “Yucky.”
In the days that my milk did not come in, we fed the babies with formula. THen we transitioned to bottles of expressed breastmilk once my milk came in. However, I purposefully did not warm the breast milk or formula all the way. It was more lukewarm and sometimes room temperature.
Made Bottle Feeding Less Easy
When we did bottle feed, we would pull the bottle away every once in a while so baby would have to work a little harder to get keep sucking.
Hired a Professional
For the second baby, I hired a 3rd party lactation specialist (not affiliated with the hospital), to come in and assess the situation. Within minutes, she corrected our latching position due to my baby’s tongue tie. We needed professional help and I’m so glad we got it. Check with your insurance to see if a lactation specialist is covered.
Changed The Reward
This next tip worked for our family but I don’t know if it will work for yours. Whenever he would breastfeed, I would cuddle him for a little extra longer afterward, even bed shared with him safely. With the bottle, as soon as he was asleep, I’d ask whoever was feeding the baby to place him immediately in the bassinet. (Note: eventually this backfired on us for a little bit, because for two weeks, he would only want to nurse and nap in my arms… whoops)
Stuck like Glue
I really, really wanted to give up with Baby #1, after he was a month old, I thought that he was a lost cause. However, as more and more of my milk supply started to build, he started to prefer breast milk a lot more. With bottles, it was nice to have other family members feed the baby so I could sleep. I was also trying hard not to become stressed about the feeding. I joined more mom facebook groups that bottlefed and had more virtual support and reassurance.
Those factors combined I think made my breast milk “taste” better (less stress, more rested mama is a happier mama). He went from all formula, to formula and expressed breastmilk, and then preferring bottles of expressed breastmilk only. Then at six weeks, I offered him the boob, and he latched for 20 minutes. A quick burp after that and he was finally milk drunk. For baby #2, I learned my mistakes for baby #1, and knew to call in help right away. It takes a village, it truly does.
How I Kept it That Way
Warning, it was not easy. For the first 6 months of both of my kids’ life I would nurse and then pump to really build up my supply. My favorite breast pump was working over time. I also had a full time office job. So even if they slept through the night, I would set an alarm to pump. At home, I would try to nurse on one side and pump the other side. I was on auto-pilot for a while.
Then when I built enough for a good freezer stash, I decreased pump time to only really pump while I was at work. Again, for the first 6 months, on weekends, everywhere the baby went, I went. Every 4 hours, I had to plan to either nurse or pump.
The lifestyle was not for everybody but I had a good amount of support and I was really determined to have them exclusively breastfed.
Baby #1 was breastfed for 15 months, and I’m planning to end the breastfeeding journey with baby #2 at 12 months. With patience and calmness, we got our babies from the bottle to breastfed.
This is what worked for our family and our situation. Not saying it’s for everybody but it worked for us.
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Disclaimer: Semi-Delicate Balance, Inc and its content are for informational purposes only and should never be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified professional.