Karla News

From Bottle to Breast

Breastfeeding Tips, Nicu, Nipple Confusion

Things don’t always go as planned. In the world of childbirth and newborn parenting there are so many unpredictable events. One of the most well-intentioned, yet stressful areas is breastfeeding. There’s nipple confusion, latching issues, lack of sucking reflex, and health issues that can get in the way. The road blocks can be overwhelming and new mothers can become convinced that breastfeeding just won’t work. I was one of those moms.

My little guy earned a ticket into the NICU the second he was born. He needed IV fluids immediately after birth and five days of monitoring in the NICU. We weren’t prepared for all of the challenges that come with a NICU baby, especially breastfeeding obstacles.

Thanks to jaundice, Little G was too tired to eat and if he did latch on, he was too tired to suck for more than a few seconds. I was being pressured by NICU staff to get those fluids flowing; the only way he was leaving that hospital was by proving that he could urinate up to par. At three a.m., tears rolled down my face as I fed him his first bottle of formula. I thought all hope of breastfeeding was gone and I had failed as a mother. Today, Little G is a thriving exclusively breastfed five-month-old. It took us two weeks until he would nurse for a full feeding.

There are many techniques to getting your bottle-fed baby back to the breast. What works for one child, may not work for another. It takes patience and determination on the mother’s part, but it can happen. Here are some tips you can try yourself before using more complex medical devices.

See also  How to Wean Your Baby from Breastfeeding

General Guidelines:

  • Always keep your milk supply up. While you are trying to transition your baby from bottle to breast, it’s important that you keep up an ample supply. Every time your baby gets a bottle, you must pump. Working in a team is very effective – dad gives the bottle while mom pumps.
  • Give your baby your milk any way that you can. If your little one has to have a bottle, a bottle of your expressed milk is the best way to go.
  • Remain calm. Your baby will respond to your emotions. If you are frustrated while trying to get the baby to nurse, take a break and try again in 10 minutes.

Recommended Techniques:

  • Put the baby to breast at the beginning of every feeding. This is the one technique that we used consistently. It gave the baby a sense of routine and the opportunity to nurse every three hours. It sent the message that we weren’t giving up. Sometimes he wouldn’t suck and sometimes he wouldn’t latch. We would try for 20 minutes each time, regardless of his response. After 20 minutes he was given a bottle of expressed milk. If he had gotten any milk from breastfeeding then he just took what he wanted from the bottle to supplement. Kellymom.com, an internet authority on breastfeeding, recommends 10 minutes of breast time.
  • Ease baby’s frustration. A super hungry baby is not going to be a good student. You avoid a frustrated baby by feeding him before he’s starving. If he awakes screaming out of hunger you can give him a little supplement to take the edge off. Once the baby is calm, he’ll be much more receptive to trying the breast.
  • Use a nipple shield. A nipple shield was a great tool for us. It is a small plastic piece shaped like a bottle nipple that fits over your own nipple. It gives the baby the comfort of the bottle nipple shape and the experience of nursing. We used it to get the baby latched and satisfied and then removed it halfway through the nursing session.
  • Pre-pump. It can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes for your milk to actually reach the baby’s mouth. That means he has to do a lot of work before being rewarded! Kellymom.com suggests expressing some milk just before you nurse so that the baby gets milk the instant he latches.
See also  Science Fair Projects for the 6th Grade

With confidence and focus, you and your baby can do it!