Are you having a hard time with getting the baby back on your boob? Here are some tips on reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle.
What can you read in this article?
- What you should know about nipple confusion
- Factors that might affect the success of relactation
- Tips on reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle
Breastfeeding your child is one of the most challenging parts of being a mother. A lot of moms, especially first-time moms initially struggle with breastfeeding their children. However, getting the baby to latch on your boob and making sure you are giving him the nutrients he needs to grow is very satisfying.
When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I never thought about learning about breastfeeding. I thought it would just come naturally once I decide to do it. But I was wrong.
Because I was not confident with my milk supply and scared that my baby was not getting enough, we supplemented her with the formula milk provided by the hospital (I gave birth abroad) the next day after she was born (I just made sure she got the colostrum).
So when I decided that I wanted to breastfeed her exclusively, I had a hard time with her latching. She wouldn’t latch right away when I offer my breasts or she would latch but unlatch right away and would be so fussy every time I was feeding her.
But I saw how easy it was for her to finish the bottle of formula milk we would give her when she wouldn’t stop crying. I grew even more frustrated and wouldn’t relax when it was time to breastfeed.
It took us a while to figure out the reason – nipple confusion.
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When a breastfeeding baby is having trouble latching and breastfeeding after being fed with a bottle, that is called nipple confusion.
It can happen because babies need to use different techniques when nursing contrary to feeding from a bottle. When they are breastfeeding, they control the flow of milk from their mother by creating suction, using their pauses to swallow and breathe.
Meanwhile, when babies drink or suck from a baby bottle, they don’t have to work as hard because gravity and the nipple enable the milk to flow continuously to the baby.
So when the baby switches back to the breast, he gets frustrated when the milk flows differently than it did with the bottle. This leads to having trouble with latching on to the mother’s breast and preferring the bottle over breastfeeding.
Reasons for offering the bottle
If you plan on supplementing your breast milk with formula milk, experts advise that you wait around six weeks or until you have fully established your milk supply and your baby is already comfortable and adept at breastfeeding before you offer him the bottle.
However, there are instances that a mom has to give formula milk or even expressed breast milk on a bottle to her newborn.
One reason could be they were physically separated because of medical issues. It could be the baby was born premature and had to stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Or the mother had some health concerns and wasn’t able to breastfeed right away.
It can also be because of her low milk supply and she needed to give baby the bottle to make sure he was provided with the nutrients he needs during his early days. It could be that her baby was
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weaned months ago, but now seems interested again, and she wants to give breastfeeding another try.
Whatever the reason may be, this probably affects why your baby is refusing to latch on to your breasts. But it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. It’s still possible to go back to the breast.
You can still get your baby to latch back and breastfeed with the help of a few tips on reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle.
Factors that affect the success of relactation
However, it may take a while for your child to be fully comfortable breastfeeding again. Remember that all babies are different and would respond to relactation in different ways.
Here are some factors that can affect the success of your relactation or reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle:
- Child’s age – the younger or the earlier, the better. Moms whose babies are only 3 to 4 months old have higher success rates.
- If you’re milk supply is well-established before you offered the bottle, it will be easier to re-establish it.
- Your time in attempting breastfeeding and pumping. Remember, relactation will be more effective if you attempt to breastfeed your child or pump your breast more often.
- Whether your baby is still interested in breastfeeding.
- How educated you are in relactation, and how willing you are to give it another shot.
- If you have a lot of support from your spouse, family, friends, and healthcare providers, the more likely you’ll be to persevere and not give up right away.
It is important to remember that each body reacts differently to attempts at relactation. However, you can expect to see some initial results within about 2 weeks of trying.
According to Nancy Mohrbacher, author of the book Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, research shows that full relactation takes an average of one month. Meanwhile, some experts believe that the amount of time it takes to relactate is about equal to how long it’s been since you stopped breastfeeding.
Tips on reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle
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While it might take a little (or a lot of) work, getting your baby back on the boob after being bottle-fed is not impossible. And it will certainly be easier with the help of the following tips:
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, your baby will most likely sense your agitation and start to fuss as well. Before you breastfeed your child, try taking three deep breaths first and calm down. When you’re relaxed, baby will respond and become calm as well.
According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) study, skin-to-skin contact, where the baby is stripped down to his diapers and laid vertically on his mother’s chest is maximized the chances for the baby to be physically ready to breastfeed.
Skin-to-skin contact also increases your prolactin levels, which helps boost your milk supply.
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While you are relaxing with the baby in skin-to-skin contact, try to sing and talk softly to her. It doesn’t have to be a full song or long sentences. Just letting the baby hear your voice along with other calming noises helps keep the environment relaxed and makes it conducive to breastfeeding.
While in the skin-to-skin position, you may notice that baby starts to bob their head and work their way to the breast.
Some babies will instantly latch on and start feeding just by changing to using this feeding position and letting them use their own natural instincts.
Some babies may bob down to the breast and then start crying or screaming once they feel the nipple on their lips. If your baby is like this, gently bring him back up into the neutral vertical position on your chest. Try to soothe him with soft gentle words and a firm but gentle hold on their back from your hand.
Some babies need to feel better around the breast first before they can even start to latch. Forcing baby to breastfeed when they are showing signs of distress can backfire.
So instead, every time the baby starts to cry or scream, change his position into the neutral position or a positon he is comfortable with and wait for him to be calm before trying again. You may have to do this several times each feed.
When you feel you and baby have tried to breastfeed enough but it hasn’t worked, take this cue to relax and give baby an expressed breast milk feed. There is always next time.
Mixed feeding: Everything you need to know
#AskDok: Totoo bang nakaka-apekto ang nipple confusion kaya hindi nasasanay ang bata na sumuso?
Breastfeeding is priceless but not free
If the baby is not yet comfortable with your breasts, try to spend more time with him as much as possible. In your home, create an area where you can sit, relax, lie for most of the day while having skin-to-skin contact with your child. This can be on your bed or a comfortable couch.
The main essence of this is that your child needs to feel secure and comfortable to be around your breasts again. If they are calm and comfortable, the more they will cooperate.
As you may have already realized, reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle can be quite challenging ang would require a lot of effort from you.
So you would need to let your husband take over some of the chores for a few days so you can focus on relactation and helping the baby breastfeed again. Make the most of this moment to bond with your baby and gets used to being around your breasts again.
While you’re at it, make sure you have a lot of healthy snacks and water on hand to help you keep your milk supply up.
Express milk at the end of your nipple
Before offering your breast to your baby, try squeezing a little breast milk onto your nipple first. This can encourage the baby to latch on and then start sucking.
Remember, at this stage, even a small lick or suck is progress. Especially if your baby has been refusing the breast, try to see the small things as a move forward. Eventually, he will go back to sucking for long periods and you will be breastfeeding again.
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If your baby has gotten used to being fed from a bottle while they were not able to breastfeed, you can try to use nipple shields on your breasts first while slowly reintroducing breastfeeding.
Babies can get used to the feeling of the hard silicone and prefer it to softer breast tissues. Because the nipple shield feels similar to a bottle teat, it can be used to help a reluctant baby to accept the breast.
You can try this when your baby is not that hungry and your breasts are full. Make sure you apply the nipple shield correctly to avoid getting wounds. Express some milk into the tip of the shield to moisten it and encourage your little one to latch and feed.
Another upside is the nipple shields help to pull your nipple outwards, which can help the baby latch better. This was the case for me, when my baby was refusing my breasts. Wearing nipple shields for a few days pulled my nipple outward and made it easier for my baby to latch.
Babies can compare how fast and easy it is to suck from a bottle than from your breasts. So using a bottle that mimics the natural breastfeeding motions and behavior can help make the transition from bottle to breast easier.
While trying relactation, try using slow-flow bottles or cup feeding so that your baby can get used to the slower flow of your breasts again.
According to Medela, breast compression is a gentle way of holding and squeezing the breast during breastfeeding to help increase milk flow and encourage your baby to stay feeding at the breast as they will be rewarded with more milk.
How do you do it? Hold your breast by cupping and squeezing the breast between thumb and fingers. Place your hand far enough behind the areola so you don’t disturb the baby while sucking. Avoid pressing hard on your breast so that it causes pain, and sliding your thumb or fingers along the breast.
Maintain the compression during the baby’s sucking and then remove your hand from the breast when he pauses. Repeat the process.
Remember, if you really want your baby to breastfeed again, keep offering the boob. Try to offer it to him when he’s half-asleep. Breastfeed again when he wakes up and cries. Offer it when you’re carrying him or swaying him. Always try to offer your breasts first before giving in to the bottle.
However, if your milk supply has not been established and the baby is still having trouble latching, keep giving him the bottle, especially when he is hungry. First of all, you do not want him to be dehydrated, and second, a fussy and hungry baby is not going to be a cooperative baby!
It takes effort and a lot of patience to reintroduce breastfeeding to your bottle-fed baby. But keep offering your breasts and building your milk supply, and you’ll get there again.
If you have any questions about nipple confusion or relactation, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s pediatrician, or consult a certified breastfeeding consultant in your area.
Healthline, Medela, New York Times