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.