From the bottle to the breast to the bottle

20120416-193516.jpg “It should not be this difficult!” I kept thinking to myself. But it was. Breastfeeding was not easy for me for the first few weeks. Benji had a really strong suck and I was not correctly latching him on, creating sore and cracked nipples. Furthermore, my milk supply only started about a week after Benji was born, and because I was constantly trying to stimulate my boobs for milk supply using either the pump or Benji’s suckle, my boobs were working on overdrive and felt sore. Constantly.

Later on, I think I got a really mild form of thrush – the sharp sting and radiating pain were my only symptoms – and, thank God, Benji never showed any. That also prevented me from breastfeeding comfortably.

So Benji was formula fed for the first week, then after my milk supply was established, was only breastfed half the time while the other half was with the bottle.

It took three visits to lactation consultants, and more than six weeks of persistence to finally feel comfortable breastfeeding exclusively and after all that, 3 months later, I’m now struggling to re-introduce the bottle to Benji.

Again, I told myself “It shouldn’t be this difficult.” But as with most new things, it is. We tried the bottle with Benji a few days ago and he fought it. Our game plan was for me to pump half a feed, leave the room, have Bry feed him, and then finish the half with a breastfeed. It took Benji awhile to realize what was going on and when he did, he started screaming and choking on the milk. Then, after a few rocks and lullabies, Benji calmed down, held on to the bottle, sucked on the teat…and then started screaming again after a few sucks. The entire half a feed probably took 20-30 minutes (vs 10-15 mins on the breast). Today, we tried it again and Benji went even more ballistic. He was almost inconsolable the entire time Bry tried feeding him. The Pediatrician we saw a few weeks back who urged us to introduce the bottle with him again forewarned us about this battle but I didn’t think it was going to be this bad.

There were little moments when I thought back to how difficult it was for me to establish breastfeeding and wondering what that was for, if he was going to need to be bottle fed again in a few months anyway and had I known it was going to be such a battle to reintroduce the bottle to him, I might have never completely given up the bottle with him.

Anyway, I’ve been looking up other ways to help Benji take the bottle again and found more strategies that we might try:

  • feeding him in a different room
  • holding him in a different position
  • having me even further away than I was the last couple times
  • offering the bottle when he is hungry but not starving
  • offering the bottle when he is in a calmer mood to begin with
  • using a sippy cup
  • trying a different teat (we’re currently using Dr Brown’s number 2 teat for 3-6 months)

Moms out there did you go through something similar with your kid and if so, do you have any other suggestions?

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15 comments
  1. Are you feeding him formula or breastmilk in the bottle?

    • the speech monster said:

      Breast milk I pump first and then have my husband feed him

  2. hnMom said:

    First of, congratulations for being persistent until the breastfeeding was working. That’s awesome.
    Secondly, do you really HAVE to give him the bottle again? Seems like it is really hard on all of you.
    We only ever used a bottle when we were out and suspected that there was no good place to nurse. We used the Medela bottles that also come with the pump and Livi seemed to do fine with it.
    Hope all works out!

    • the speech monster said:

      yeah i might have to if i return to work. then again, we might try the sippy cup if bottle fails.
      thnx, hnmom! xx

      • hnMom said:

        Of course, in that case you don’t really have a choice. Have you thought about trying a different teat with a faster flow. Maybe it’s just not coming out fast enough for him.
        Good luck, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

      • the speech monster said:

        actually it’s not *if* i return but *when* i return. yeah someone else mentioned trying a teat with faster flow. def look into that. x

  3. I couldn’t breasted my son because I had -no- milk supply. (Diabetes and thyroid problem does that apparently!) I tried and tried but Aaden was finally put on a bottle at a very young age. With that said, I remember switching from “Slow” to “Fast” nipples on the bottles because my son would keep crying and would be screaming, impossible to feed him. I realized in the end that the only problem was that the milk wasn’t coming out quickly enough!

    Maybe you should try “fast” nipples on your bottles if you are not already? I’m not sure of which teat it is for your brand bottles, but maybe switch to a faster one. Perhaps when Benji is being breastfed, the milk comes out faster than with his bottle and now has to work harder to drink. Good luck!

    • the speech monster said:

      i tried a faster flow nipple (dr browns number 2) i might try the medela one tomorrow since i already have it. thanks!!

  4. I have been exclusively breastfeeding since day 1. My first outing away from him was when he was a month old. I left 12 oz of milk and he went on a hunger strike until I came home. He would NOT drink from the bottle. Afterward, we tried having my mom feed him. He cried anytime he saw that bottle. I even tried nursing him and then sneaking the bottle in during the session…that didn’t work. After about 4 days trying to give him the bottle (we were persistent), he finally caved in and took it. Now, he drinks from both a bottle and sippy cup.

    Things that helped us get him to use a bottle:
    -Anyone but me had to give him the bottle in those four days of us trying
    -The bottle was given to him somewhere besides his bedroom (where I did the majority of the nursing)
    -The milk was warm so that it “tasted” the same as what he was used to drinking
    -The bottle was out in his play area so that he saw it regularly

    I hope this helps and I wish you all of the luck!

    My husband and I just had this talk last night…about going to the bottle in the evening. The issue that we have is that Oster wants to breastfeed before bed because he’s teething. So, he basically is using me as a pacifier. We don’t want to continue this behavior; plus, he’s going to have to learn how to go to bed on his own.

    Tonight, I’m going to nurse him an hour before bed and see if he’ll go down without my milk. This is going to be a tough transition. I’m really not sure how Oster is going to feel about it. I’ll keep you updated.

    • the speech monster said:

      how did the transition go?? i’m curious for future reference as well (i’m currently doing a similar bedtime routine to you where he sleeps just after a breastfeed and i’m thinking of breaking that routine soon so he falls asleep on his own).

      thanks for the recommendations. i’m going to try a few of them!

      • transition is still going. It’s slow. We are on day two and so far we have given him one side of me and a 2oz bottle. We hope by next week, we will be giving him water in a bottle and then slowly taking the bottle away. My thinking is two weeks he will probably go down by himself. I’ll write out the details when this happens.

        I hope the bottle is more appealing to Benji.

  5. Just out of my own nosy curiosity: Do you mind me asking why the Pedi encouraged the bottle?

    Have you tried using a nipple shield? You can get them at Target and Toys R Us for under $10. Or your LC can give you one. We had the opposite problem. Baby Eli was really liking the bottle and didn’t want to nurse. The nipple shield is similar to the shape of a bottle but has the flow the breast (since it is essentially a fake nipple over your own).

    I had that same stinging, painful feeling. Come to find out it was milk fever. A few days of antibiotics cleared it up. But man! That was some rough stuff! It would bring me to tears.

    You are doing a great job! It does get easier. That first 6 weeks were really, really tough on me. I didn’t know if I could make it through it. I kept my LC on speed dial and visited her quite often. She was a gem!

    If you need anything or have any questions, I’m glad to help. I’m 2 years into my nursing journey and would love to encourage you any way that I can.

    • the speech monster said:

      milk fever! i haven’t heard of that one. yeah LC’s are such great support. i’m actually bf okay now. thanks so much for your offer. but yeah, so many new moms have trouble with bf initially it’s quite depressing initially because we’re all told that it should be natural and easy! :-/

      like you, i had a rough first 6 weeks then once i got the hang of it, found it really easy and now it’s so much easier to just bf and not bother with sterilizing bottles.

      i’m trying it out because in 4 months i’m returning to work. that’s why the ped suggested we try it now. then again, he might be able to just take milk from a sippy cup then so if it gets too difficult, we might just skip the bottle step altogether.

      you’re still nursing? wow! how many times a day do you nurse? i think i’m gonna wean him off at 6-7 months…

      • Mastitis is the medical word for milk fever. “Milk Fever” may just be a Southern term. Lol 🙂

        I found that Eli got really good at sipping from a straw early on….but I don’t know if you want to risk spilling your milk in a cup with a straw. A sippy cup could be more successful today.

        I’m still nursing. I want to do baby-led weaning…but I will wean him by 2 1/2 if he’s not taking it upon himself. Most of the time he nurses 1-2 times a day and 1-2 times at night. Some days, when he doesn’t feel well for example, he’ll nurse more.

        It’s tough going back to work and pumping. I was lucky to work where I had a very supportive bf environment.

        6-7 months is a great length of time to bf! That’s a really good goal! 🙂

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