I’ve been breastfeeding solely nearly 5 months. I’ve been lucky and it’s been really easy for us from day 1, and we’ve never had a problem (well apart from the time I got mastitis, soooo painful!!). However, the little man isn’t taking a bottle, even with expressed breastmilk. He takes one look at it, and bats it away with his tiny hand. I know I should be persevering with introducing the bottle, but I want an easy life and don’t want to deal with the fussing that accompanies it. Plus, he’s going to be weaned soon, so this will be a moot point.
Breastfeeding solely from your boob does come with some financial and changing-bag-packing perks, however I am a bit jelly of mums that can get their baby to take a bottle. I wish I’d researched or thought about how breastfeeding would impact our lives and how having the flexibility of a baby taking the bottle can help relieve some pressure on me.
There are a whole load of websites that give you the benefits on breastfeeding but don’t really say how it impacts you and your life. I’ve written down some points I wish I’d considered before embarking on my breastfeeding journey. It’s not here to scare you, but to help you think about how breastfeeding impacts your lifestyle for the next 6 months to a year or whenever.
What I wish I’d known
- Get your munchkin familiar with the bottle ASAP
- Breastfeeding in my head meant I had to use the boob, and only the boob. I didn’t really think about expressing milk or when to introduce bottle feeding even though we had bought all the gear. I knew that I could feed the little dude with expressed breast milk using a bottle but I didn’t really understand that it was something that I had to do early on and on a regular basis for him to get the hang of it. Doing it consistently on a regular basis means that your munchkin gets familiar with the feeling and the sucking motion they have to do to draw out the milk from the teat.
- It can be confining
- You’re the only one that can feed your munchkin. You sustain their life for 6 months. You and only you. It’s an amazing miracle of nature but if you haven’t introduced the bottle, you can’t share the responsibility with someone. This means that you have to be there to do the feeds… ALL the feeds.
- You can’t leave for more than 3-4 hours
- Forget about leaving bubba at home to go off on a jolly with your mates, out on a date night, getting your haircut/manicure/pedicure [insert any other luxury self-care]. You can manage a couple of hours away but no more than that, because they’ll probably need a feed at some point, and yes, you’ll need to be there to do it. Plus, sod’s law dictates it’s the time you choose to go out.
- 50-50 parenting is a myth with breastfeeding mums for the first year
- Boob is the answer to a lot of things, and the women have the boobs. You can’t share feeding, so that automatically put you on uneven footing with parenting. Well for the first 6 months anyway. You take sole responsibility for feeding your little one. While your other half can help out with a lot of things, this unfortunately isn’t one you can share.
What I’d do differently next time
- Introduce the bottle at 2 -3 weeks old * with expressed breast milk
- We tried the little dude with the bottle too late, and so he was loving the boob too much. I think if we’d done it earlier he would have got used to having a plastic teat in his mouth.
- Ensure that the other half does the bottle just before bedtime
- Gives me the flexibility to go out in the evenings if I wanted to, as I’m not the only person who can put the little dude to bed. Also helps to strengthen the bond between hubby and the little dude.
- Share the feeds
- Sometimes it’s nice for someone else to feed your baby. Next time, I’d totally let someone else feed him while I can go off and do something extravagant like get my hair cut, load the dishwasher or clean the house.
- Do a bottle everyday – keep up the routine and don’t get lazy
- Ensures that the little dude remembers how to take the bottle and it’s a constant in his feeding regime.
* I am not a lactation specialist, so please consult your health visitor / midwife before you make the decision to introduce the bottle. They generally recommend introducing the bottle after breastfeeding is established between 4-6 weeks to avoid nipple confusion. For me personally, I found it would be better earlier.
I do absolutely love to breastfeed, especially when I see the little dude’s face smiling up at me completely milk drunk. However, I would have loved the flexibility that introducing the bottle could have given us. Whatever way you choose to feed your little one, you’re doing the best for them :). What do you wish you’d known about feeding your baby and what would you do differently?