A bottle for breastfeeders

I’ve delayed letting Del try a bottle until now, even though it meant missing seeing Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, in order to give us advantage in breastfeeding.

Not that we have had any problems – the kid is a natural. Before he was an hour old he was happily nursing at my breast – an accomplishment which I know went a long way to soothing my sadness over our lost homebirth. Del nursed happily on demand and still does. The only “complaint” we have is that he eats so fast he gives himself gas and gets overfull, leading to some  uncomfortable burping and spitting up that is his personal 9 on the 1-to-10 scale of how-bad-is-it.

As easy as breastfeeding has been for us, I’ve still guarded it pretty closely, waiting more than six weeks to pump and experiment with the bottle. And in order to prevent any risk of nipple confusion or preference for the ease of eating from a bottle, I researched nipples and was very happy to find Medela’s Calma nipple. (Doesn’t it sound like an like an IKEA name? Calma.) The ingenious work of Medela, makers of all things breastfeeding-supportive, the Calma nipple is designed to require that baby create suction before any milk will flow. Normal nipples will release milk with only a squeeze of baby’s lips, but the Calma actually has a valve that requires baby to suck before milk will flow, and if baby pauses, milk will stop (mimicking the behavior of baby and the natural action of the breast). It was on the pricy side – $26 for one nipple with bottle from Amazon, but to me, as an investment in a healthy year or more of nursing, it’s worth it.

So we tried it with Del. I pumped while he slept and when he woke, and was a little bit hungry but not wildly so, I gave him the bottle. He seemed curious about the new texture and shape in his mouth – not mom, and not his paci, but gave it a tentative suck. I encouraged him using the same tone and words I use to praise him at the breast and he kept up sucking it, and soon was getting milk out. When he seemed happy with the situation, I passed him to Zach, and Dad got to feed him the rest of the bottle. He drank up the whole 3 ounces.  I will admit I had really mixed emotions while he was using his bottle – happy that he took it with no resistance, pleased to see him getting some precious time with Zach, and also a little worried that he was somehow getting gypped out of the sweet, warm bonding that is nursing (and that I was too!). And maybe a little shock that he’s already big enough for this.

So, while I was overall glad that first bottle attempt was a success, I was also glad when he was hungry again a couple of hours later, and snuggled up to my boob and sucked away contentedly.



4 responses to “A bottle for breastfeeders

  • Anna

    Glad it went well! We have the calms for R too (came with my pump), but he’s much more resistant to the bottle! I find we need to keep up a practice bottle every day or two or he freaks. He won’t take a pacifier either! We changed to a more conventional bottle, the drip-drip-drip encourages him to at least try instead of just losing it completely.

    • DragonKat

      Ah – so you had a different experience with the Calma, Anna. Every baby is so different!

      It must be challenging if he won’t ever take a paci. Will he suck on his fingers or thumb? Del will take a paci but isn’t very good at holding it in his mouth for long, then he gets frustrated it has fallen out. I unless I’m carrying him in the sling or holding him and using it, I find it more trouble than help for all the back and forth to give it back to him. He is just beginning to use his hands around his mouth, but so far they’re only good for pulling paci out – not putting it back in!

  • Babybopbop

    Glad it’s working out for you,we did both breast and bottle feeding (using both expressed milk and formula milk) and it was great-also gives you some freedom too and allows others to do the feeding part!

    • DragonKat

      I read somewhere the recommendation to wait till after 6 weeks to introduce bottle (supported by studies showing that babies who get a bottle before this time are more likely to develop the preference for bottle and less likely to nurse for a full year) but also that if you do plan to use bottles, it’s best to introduce them before 3 months old or they’re more likely to reject it altogether. Of course, every baby is different and studies are just estimations of how your baby will react. It was a helpful guideline to me.

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