Natural Breast Health – Preventative and traditional Chinese medicine
Some call it “bottle preference”.
But when it happens suddenly and definitively, without the participating intention of Mom, it feels a bit like rejection.
I’m talking about the moment when your baby decides on his own that he’s done with sucking on mom to get milk.
“Why should I work so hard and have to wait almost a *whole minute* for the letdown response to happen when there’s a bottle option that is way easier and instantaneous?
Get this boob out of my face, mommy!
And bring me a bottle!
Quickly now, I will just lie here wriggling and crying until you return.”
Nursing had always been my go-to Universal Remote Codes.
My sure-to-work baby calming tool.
I had earned this ultimate mommy negotiating technique after months of inflamed milk ducts and raw, lanolin saturated nipples.
Why had it suddenly stopped working?
Flashback to a couple of days after Tor was born.
I hand-pumped when Tor was asleep to help get my milk to flow, and I was pretty happy about the half-ounce of milk I had been able to collect.
As we were about to feed that milk back to Tor in a bottle, our midwife knocked on the door for a post-partum house call.
When she saw what we were doing, she first congratulated me on my new milk.
And then with a calm urgency, she recommended we encourage Tor to only drink from me until my milk was well established.
She alluded to this idea of “nipple rejection”, where babies can learn that bottles take less effort to drink from than breasts do.
And if that happens, and you still want your baby to enjoy all of the benefits of breast milk, then your options are pumping several times per day or using a milk bank.
I knew I wanted Tor to be exclusively fed breast milk for his first 6 months and hopefully for longer, so 2 days post-partum we stopped using a bottle altogether.
That is until it came time for me to go back to work when he was about 9 months old.
For a few weeks before that, we trained Tor to take a bottle every once in a while since he was going to have to use one when I wasn’t here.
And then came a day came I left Tor and his Dad at home for the afternoon while I went out shopping.
Tor happily drank from the bottles he was offered while I was gone.
I didn’t know at the time that when I nursed him to sleep that night, it would be for the last time.
When he woke at 11 pm for his usual first feed of the night, he was upset and inconsolable.
After a period of fussing and getting genuinely angry when I would try to get him to latch, he accepted a bottle, rolled over, and fell asleep.
And although I offered to nurse him every time he fed for the next several weeks, a bottle is the only way he drinks milk anymore.
It happened in one instant.
I see the positive in this – I didn’t have to wean him, pumping can be a lot more time-efficient and bottles are somewhat easier than breastfeeding when you’re on the go (and the only option when driving).
Plus, the biggest bonus has been that dad can now feed Tor during the night so mom can put her earplugs in and sleep for 6-8 hours straight until her boobs are so full they wake her up.
It’s just too bad that pumping is so much more physically painful compared to nursing.
(I still sometimes miss that unbelievably intimate bond of breastfeeding.
Holding a sleeping, satiated, flutter sucking baby is pretty sweet…).