Introducing a bottle early is good. Some books say to wait 6-8 weeks or more to introduce a bottle so that nipple confusion does not occur. The downside is that if you wait too long, some babies will never accept a bottle. Breastfeeding is great but being able to give a bottle is pretty great too. In the early days, you may be nursing every hour or two and even at month 9, you may be nursing every 3-4 hours. Being able to give a bottle allows you to have some flexibility and freedom. Also, one lady I knew had terrible mastitis issues and her baby refused a bottle. As a result, she was in terrible pain and exhausted but had to nurse her baby through it. Ouch!
We followed our pediatrician’s recommendation to introduce a bottle in the first two weeks and then to give a bottle every week or so moving forward. Plus, giving bottles is a great bonding experience for daddies!
Nurse on demand for the first 3-4 weeks. Some of the baby books and pediatricians out there will say that once your baby is gaining weight, baby should be able to go every 3 hours between bottle or nursing session. Totally true and getting on a schedule can be nice but what they don’t say is that it can take several weeks and even months for your supply to build up and regulate. Nursing triggers your breasts to produce more milk, so if you want to get a good supply going, you should nurse more often.
Visit a Breastfeeding support group before you have your first baby. It may sound weird to those who have not been indoctrinated into the society of breastfeeding clubs, but clubs are really helpful and supportive!! I wish I had gone to a club before Bailey was born because I had never seen a baby actually breastfeed. So when he was laid on my chest the day he was born, I had no idea what to do and was completely dependant on receiving help from the nurses. Every nurse told me to do it a different way and some of them were pretty pushy about their opinions and frankly pretty physical about getting the baby on the boob. Maybe if I had actually seen a baby doing it before, I would have been a better partner in the situation. Instead, I kind of felt like a CPR dummy.
Drink electrolyte drinks (like Gatorade, coconut water, etc.) Producing milk can be very dehyrdrating. I drink 3-4 Nalgene bottles a day and usually put some sort of electrolyte mix into them because it’s more hydrating than straight-up water.
Maybe wait to buy a lot of bottles. I ended up liking the Tommee Tippee 5 oz. bottles because 1) the shape and action of the bottle is more like the actual human breast and 2) He never drinks more than 4-5oz at a time. We bought several other brands and sizes of bottle before settling on these bottles. P.s. free bunch of random bottles if you’re interested…
Build up an emergency freezer stash. If you use your freezer stash in place of a nursing or pumping session, you are telling your body to produce less milk. So, the work to create a freezer stash seemed kind of pointless to me. Here are three reasons why having a back up stash is good. 1) You pump a bottle, and your husband drops it on the floor as he is trying to heat it up. And no, Lee has never done that. Seriously! I’m just sayin’ that a frozen bag of milk will help you out. 2) You get the stomach flu or your period and your supply dips resulting in less pumped milk to send to daycare. In this case, you would keep pumping the same number of times you normally would. In fact, you might add in an extra session but if you’re still not producing enough, you use the frozen stash to make up the difference until your supply comes back. 3) You are starting to wean baby off the breast but still want to give breastmilk. Voila, you could stockpile months’ worth of milk if you wanted (if you had the supply to do it).
Some of the challenges to building a freezer stash are that 1) at first, you never have the time to pump because you are always nursing. 2) If you go back to work and start pumping you may have to pump extra to build a stash and extra pumping is time-consuming. 3) You have to rotate out your frozen milk because it does expire, and as the baby gets older your breastmilk changes so it’s not optimal to feed a ton of milk from early on to a baby that is much older.
And to conclude, we have this amazing stuff called formula, which you shouldn’t feel afraid or guilty to use. Breastfeeding and especially pumping can become this bizarrely stressful obsession, so try to lighten up. I tell myself that every week. Still waiting for it to sink in…