Bottle feeding with love

For all my determination to feed from the breast as much as possible, I’ve kicked it in with the supplemental nursing system. I’ll use it for the occasional feed but I’m mostly formula feeding* now and bottles have simply proven less stressful.

I’ll go into all the wherefore’s in another post for those interested in knowing more about life with an SNS. I still maintain it’s brilliant but have made the personal decision to mainly bottle feed.

It’s taken a long time but I’ve finally made my peace with the bottle, mostly anyway. A lot of this has come from realising that losing some of breastfeeding’s nutritional value doesn’t have to mean losing the bonding involved with it too. So, I’m taking some conscious steps to bottle feed with love.

1. Respecting physiology
When we first started bottle feeding, we were concerned about causing nipple preference. So we followed advice specific to bottle feeding a breastfed baby and have continued to do so. This involves respecting Talitha’s natural rhythms.

First, I offer her the bottle rather than just sticking it in her mouth. When she opens wide, I ease the teat in.

I hold her reasonably upright and the bottle kind of parallel to the floor (this become impossible when you get down to the last couple of ounces – that’s when we just end up tipping it). She takes in some air but I make sure to wind her properly afterwards. This means that she regulates how much she takes from the bottle rather than sucking and swallowing simply because of constant flow.

Every now and then I tip the teat upwards but keep it in her mouth. This mimics the let-down and pause of breastfeeding.

Half-way through, I switch sides so she gets the change of view that she would with breastfeeding. It’s supposed to be developmentally beneficial.

2. Maintaining close contact
It’s surprisingly tempting while feeding her to just zone out and watch TV or whatever. Let’s face it, it’s not the most riveting task in the world when you’re doing it at least six times a day.

But when we’re bottle feeding, I’ve felt it’s even more important that I try to reclaim the intimacy we could be losing.

So I’m careful to hold her close and look into her eyes. Every now and then I get topless, strip her down to her nappy and we have a skin-to-skin bottle feed.

3. Remaining the source

I’m still not entirely sure what my thoughts and feelings are on this one. I kind of feel that having to give up breastfeeding exclusively shouldn’t mean that I am no longer the one who feeds Talitha.

A part of me wonders if I’m being silly here but another part wonders why anyone else should be feeding her when I’m around.

It’s confusing because I don’t mind Laurence doing the occasional bottle when I’m around (particularly if I’m completely wiped out and it’s the weekend). But when other people do, I get a funny feeling about it.

I’m working this one out but I feel that at least most of the time, I’ll be the one wielding the bottle, not just the one fighting up with the boobs beforehand.

What have you done to keep the intimacy if you’ve bottle fed? I’m really interested in hearing about others’ ideas and experiences in this area.

* I later discovered that this was not true. I was mistakenly supplementing more than was necessary. After cutting back I realised that thanks to domperidone and my baby becoming a more effective feeder, my supply had increased without me noticing. Ah, the joys and confusion of combination feeding!

Join the discussion

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • I know exactly what you mean about you being the only one to feed her. I formula fed my oldest son and refused to let others feed him. Like you say I think it was all about the bond and the time together. 

    • Well done on being decisive! I thought I was being silly for feeling weird about the whole thing at first. I haven’t made up my mind on it but it does seem right for me to at least do most of the feeding.

  • Thanks for sharing these useful tips for bottle feeding. I’m still breastfeeding but I do give a bottle of expressed milk quite regularly, as we had a terrible time trying to get my first to take a bottle when I was ready to stop breastfeeding. I was particularly interested in the idea of switching sides halfway through! Some really helpful advice.

    • Glad you find it useful. We’ve recently started using breastflow bottles, which you might find helpful if you’re switching between bottle and breast. The teats do a pretty good job of imitating the breast. Talitha takes in hardly any air with these and it makes it a lot easier for her to regulate how much she takes in. Also, the switching sides annoyed her at first but now she doesn’t fuss as long as we do it quickly.

    • I’ve bottle fed other people’s babies in the past and before feeding my own I’d never have thought about any of this. Thanks, we do enjoy our feeds. Somehow bottle feeding makes me sleepy like breastfeeding does. It must be psychological as it can’t be hormonal.

  • I’m glad to read that you have made peace with your decision to start bottle feeding. It’s never an easy decision when your hope was to breastfeed, but my own experiences showed me that sometimes it is the right decision for you and your family. 

    When we made the switch to bottles, we discovered that our little man got more cuddly – that may sound a bit odd, but outside of feeding time, he seemed to want more cuddles. I guessed it was because before that, he was getting his fill of closeness through breastfeeding. So as well as trying to make our bottlefeeds close, we made sure to have lots of extra cuddles too. 🙂

    • Extra cuddles are definitely a good idea. I’m still breastfeeding a bit but it’s anyone’s guess as to how long that will last. I’m pretty sure if I came off domperidone and dropped pumping altogether I wouldn’t be breastfeeding at all. I’m coming off the meds in December so we’ll be exclusively bottle feeding then so it’s just as well that I’m finally accepting things now. It’s amazing how much babies crave closeness though, isn’t it?

  • This takes me back.  I struggled with breastfeeding so much, he wouldn’t latch on, it was painful, stressful and a really frustrating experience for us both.  I decided to formula feed exclusively after a health visitor told me to give myself a break and I realised it was the best thing for both of us moving forwards.  It was not a decision I took lightly and I still wish things might have worked out a bit better (I had an emergency c-section so was quite down on myself after not being able to push my baby out naturally and then not able to feed him naturally either) but it was the right decision.  I did bottle feed with love also.  However, I was definitely pressured to let other people feed him – grandparents, aunts, friends etc.  It seemed as soon as a visitor arrived they had whipped him out of my arms and settled in to do the feed.  It really upset me at the time but I am over it now.  If we have another one, I will be a bit stronger – knowing better next time.  Has not affected bonding in any way – he still loves mummy best 😉

    • Sorry you had such a hard time. At the end of the day we’ve got to make the best decision we can and make our peace with it, eh? People have such different views on other people bottle feeding their babies. I still haven’t fully made my mind up. I’m always trying to remember that so much more goes into the bond than the feeding. It’s great to be reminded by you saying that your boy loves you best. 🙂

  • I think a lot about it is the close, skin contact – you do see a lot of bottle feeding done almost at arms length

    Good on you – even now when we bottle feed we feed almost as if we are nursing (and it means I can hold the bottle under my chin if I need to free my hands)

  • Great post Adele. I wasn’t able to get either of my two to take expressed milk from a bottle successfully but having read your pointers I can see how much they would help anyone else trying to use a bottle.
    I am glad you have found your peace with bottle feeding. If its best for you and baby then go for it and don’t look back, I say. that photo of you two is stunning and it’s a really lovely post. Xx

    • Thank you, Jenny. Talitha was tongue-tied so we were concerned that she wouldn’t be able to take the bottle either but thankfully that hasn’t been the case. Take your little ones’ refusal of the bottle as a high compliment to you, I guess! They won’t be fooled. Mummy is best! It must’ve been a little annoying not being able to leave them with a bottle though. Thanks again, it’s been a difficult journey and I’m just trying to move ahead with things.

  • […] here for ideas on Bottle feeding with Love. This week is Baby Feeding Week on Circus Queen. I’m celebrating having made it to six months of […]

  • […] (Let me just mention that when you offer a baby a bottle, you should take care to respect and support the way she naturally feeds – whether or not you plan to switch between breast and bottle. See’s How to bottle-feed the breastfed baby. I’ve also written a bit about this in Bottle feeding with love.) […]

  • Bottle feeding is good and nice as long as the baby is not forced to take it in place of breastfeeding. Most baby will not even recognize when the transition occurs but doing it properly as a mother will minimize any pain in the baby during the transition. It should all be about love and strengthening it between the baby and mom. Cheers!
    Charlice recently posted..Best Baby Bottles for Wind in 2018

Further reading