As a certified MamaNatal lactation consultant, Sara Whitehouse has assisted nursing mothers with all types of breastfeeding troubles, questions, and concerns. One of the most frequent problems she helps women face is going from breastfeeding to bottle and back again.
Using her combined passion for the topic and lactation education through the IBCLC, Sara has worked hard with the MamaNatal & Comotomo team to create a comprehensive class that benefits the breastfeeding experience and relationship between mother and baby.
Whether you want tips for pumping at work or you’re looking for the best bottles for a breastfed baby, we’ve compiled this article using the outstanding information Sara provides in her educational program.
Why is a Guide to Breastfeeding & Bottle Feeding Important?
While establishing a nursing relationship with your baby is challenging enough, introducing a bottle to that dynamic can intensify the struggle. That being said, breast-to-bottle feeding is an essential part of parenting for most people.
Whether you’re a working mom, you’re ready for a date night, or you just want someone else to help with feeding your little one, introducing a bottle is a milestone most nursing mothers face.
If you’re trying to figure out how to transition from breast-to-bottle, there are many things you’ll need to learn along the way.
Some of the topics we’ll be covering in this piece include:
- How to balance bottle and breastfeeding together
- What are the best bottles for breastfeeding babies
- Tips on keeping your milk supply up
- Storing breast milk safely
- Helping babies who reject the breast after bottle feeding
How Do You Switch from Breastfeeding to Bottle?
Let’s start with the basics – when you’re ready to go from breast-to-bottle, what’s the best way to make the process work?
There are tons of tips, tricks, and general information you should know before you make the leap to bottle feeding.
When Should You Introduce a Breast to Bottle Feeding?
After working moms give birth, her inevitable return to the workplace often looms in the back of her mind. It’s no wonder many women feel rushed to introduce their babies to the bottle, so they’re prepared for the changes coming their way.
Unfortunately, introducing a bottle too soon can interfere with the success of mom and baby’s breastfeeding journey.
It’s crucial to establish a solid breastfeeding schedule and routine before giving your baby a bottle. This typically takes two to four weeks.
During this “establishment period,” you’re not only working to help teach your baby to breastfeed correctly, but you’re also helping to increase your milk supply.
What Happens if Your Baby is Refusing the Breastfeeding to Bottle Switch?
When you know your baby will need to drink from a bottle, seeing them refuse to take one can be disheartening. Try to put your worries aside, though. It can take approximately three weeks for a baby to adjust to bottle and breastfeeding together.
5 Tips On Streamlining the Transition from Breastfeeding to Bottle
Whether you’re trying to figure out how to wean from breastfeeding to bottle feeding or you want your little one to drink from a bottle while you’re at work, there are many methods you can try to help make the change easier for your baby.
Thanks to the lactation education from Sara, we’ve got 5 helpful tips and tricks to make this experience a hassle-free one.
1. Choose One of the Best Bottles for Breastfeeding Babies
Head to any local store with a baby section, and you’re bound to find a wide selection of different bottles.
The question is, which ones are the best bottles to transition from breastfeeding?
Before you buy just any bottle off the shelf, look for one that has the following features:
- Slow flow nipple
- Realistic-looking nipple
- Air vents
- Softer construction
- Easy-to-Clean design
At MamaNatal, we’re proud to partner with the incredible founders of the Comotomo baby bottle.
Not only is this one of the best bottles for a breastfed baby, but it features amazing benefits, such as:
- Soft skin-like silicone bottle material
- 100% free from nasty chemicals like BPA, PVC, and Phthalate
- Super wide opening so that you can easily clean by hand
- Bottle design with a naturally shaped nipple and wide mouth
2. Practice Pace Feeding
While we often talk about how breastfeeding is a natural process that your baby was made to do, this doesn’t mean nursing is easy. Babies still have to work to get enough milk from mom’s breasts.
When it comes time to introduce bottle feeding, you want to mimic the difficulty of breastfeeding by using pace feeding.
Keep your baby sitting upright, walk around with them, or have them lay on your lap for feeding. Positions like these will make it harder for milk to flow out of the nipple. If you notice your little one is beginning to “chug” their bottle, simply adjust the position or tilt the bottle upwards so that they’re forced to slow back down.
3. Mom’s Not Allowed to Feed the Baby
By the time you’re ready to go from breastfeeding to bottle, your baby will be well aware that mommy has the good stuff in her breasts. If mom tries to handle the bottle feeds, too, there’s a good chance your little one will get frustrated and just want to nurse.
Have your spouse, partner, or another family member take over the bottle feeds to help ensure your baby is more willing to take the bottle.
4. Start with Breastfeeding First
If your little one is still fighting their bottle, it can be helpful to have them start their feeding session by nursing. This way, they will be more satisfied and less frustrated when the time comes to take their bottle.
Just make sure not to let them finish at the breast and pump after your baby has moved on to the bottle.
5. Take a Break
One obstacle you want to avoid during your transition from breastfeeding to bottle is turning bottle feeding into a negative experience for your baby.
If you’ve tried some of these tips and your little one still isn’t interested, take a break.
By trying to force the bottle onto your baby, it stresses you out and frustrates them. Plus, our little ones can sense our own anxiety, which leads to more stress and discomfort for them.
Put down the bottle and give yourselves some breathing room for 10-30 minutes, or until you begin noticing the baby’s hunger cues again.
Breastfeeding and Working Moms: Creating a Pumping Schedule & Routine
So, you’ve worked hard and have established a breast to bottle feeding routine with your little one. For working moms returning to their jobs, this is just the first step in creating a new nursing experience with your baby.
In speaking with our certified lactation specialists at MamaNatal, like Sara, we’ve created a comprehensive list of the best bottle and breastfeeding tips for working moms.
5 Tips for Pumping at Work
When it comes to pumping milk, the first thing new moms need to consider is the type of breast pump they’re going to buy.
One of the best tips for pumping at work we can offer is to find a high-quality machine that provides a good fit and reliable suction. To help streamline your pumping schedule at work and minimize the amount of time you spend away from your actual job, pumping both breasts at once is always a great idea.
To make pumping milk from both sides at the same time a little easier, many women use a hands-free breast pump, or cut holes into an old sports bra that they can fit the flange pieces directly into.
Are you having a hard time letting down with your pump?
Consider keeping photos and videos of your child with you while you pump. This can forge a mental connection that encourages your breasts to let down.
To help keep your milk supply up, you also want to make sure you’re emptying your breasts during each pumping session. We recommend pumping each side for 15-20 minutes.
Storing Breast Milk Safely
Once you’ve begun successfully pumping milk for your baby, you’ll need to consider what you’ll use for milk storage.
If your business has a refrigerator available, this can be a great way of storing breast milk safely. When a fridge isn’t an option or there’s not enough space, you’ll need to rely on small coolers. Once it’s been placed into the cooler, you’re expressed milk can only remain there for a maximum of 24-hours.
When you’re ready to freeze your breast milk for future use, you’ll want to label your breast milk bags with detailed information, such as:
- Date of collection
- Number of ounces in each bag
- Time of day the milk was collected
- Whether you or your baby were sick at the time of collection
Milk Storage & Usage Tips
- For the best storage technique, we suggest placing milk bags on top of each other horizontally inside your freezer.
- When it’s time to feed your baby, use the oldest milk first.
- You can defrost the milk using items such as bottle warmers or a bowl of warm water.
- If a bag contains more milk than you need for a particular feed, thaw out just enough of the bag to make a bottle and refreeze any leftovers that are still in a slushy-like state.
- Store milk in small increments. This way, there’s less of a chance you’ll waste milk before it goes bad after thawing (24-hours).
Keeping Up with Your Milk Supply
Many women notice a decrease in their milk supply once they begin pumping and introduce breastfeeding to bottle feeding.
To prevent this from happening, it’s important to do two things:
- frequently pump at work and empty your breasts during each session, and
- nurse your baby on-demand when you get home.
Our bodies produce breast milk using a supply and demand system. The more we use, the more our systems realize we need to make more.
Are you still having trouble increasing your milk supply?
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Try the following tips to get things back to normal:
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink lots of water
- Eat lots of protein
- Eat small snacks throughout the day
There are also many herbs and nutrients new moms can take to enhance their milk supply. Rather than taking a ton of different supplements, however, MamaNatal’s postnatal vitamin is specially formulated and targeted to the specific needs of breastfeeding mothers.
Some of the benefits these vitamins include are:
- Promote milk production
- Offer superior nutrition for mom and baby
- Reduces colic
- You only have to take 2 easy-to-swallow pills, each day
MamaNatal is currently offering moms an amazing deal on our vitamins. When you choose our MamaNatal and Comotomo Premium Products Bundle, you’ll receive a 15% discount on two MamaNatal vitamin bottles and two 8oz Comotomo baby bottles!
Going Back to Breast: Breastfeeding After Bottle Tips
It can be surprising for some moms when they find out that babies often struggle going from bottle to breast once you’ve established a bottle feeding routine.
If you’re ready to conquer the full-circle transition from breastfeeding to bottle and then back again, consider using these tips for any baby who’s suddenly refusing to accept your breast.
Try Different Positions
Going back to the beginning of your breastfeeding journey, you might try using different nursing positions to figure out which ones work best for you and your baby.
Above everything else, you want to make the bottle to breast transition as relaxed as possible. If you find a particular hold is more comfortable than others, use that comfort to your advantage and create the most relaxed nursing environment possible for your little one.
Consider Expressing Milk
When you’re trying to get your baby back on your breast, you need to catch their attention. Expressing milk can be a great way to do this, as it makes the milk readily available for them. By massaging and compressing your breasts throughout the feed, you will also increase the normal flow of your milk.
Offer a Bottle First
Going back to one of the tips used for learning how to master the breast to bottle transition, let your baby start drinking out of a bottle if that’s what they’re looking for. Just make sure you put them to breast before they’re full.
It’s essential to pump if your little one can’t empty your breasts during their session.
Take a Break
Don’t turn the bottle/breastfeeding journey into a stressful experience. If your baby is getting upset because you’re trying to get them to latch, it’s time to take a break. Allow yourselves to calm down before giving it a try again.
Put Your Worries Away: Make the Most of Your Breastfeeding to Bottle Feeding Experience
While the prospect of introducing a bottle and getting your baby to go back and forth from breast to bottle can seem like a headache, it doesn’t have to be.
Take your time, be patient, and appreciate this experience with your little one. There are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to make the transition from bottle to breast a simple and hassle-free process.