From Boob to Bottle: The Second Hurdle

Review: Philips Avent Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump

*NOTE: this post was written on December 13th 2015 and I have only just found it, unpublished! So I thought it fitting to publish it an entire year later, to the day. Reading it has brought back many memories and sent me into a mini panic about the fact I’m about to do it all over again! In the end she did take the bottle – we used MAM Anti-Colic Self-Sterilising ones, find them online here.

Just when we thought that the hardest part of the “expressing” process had been conquered, another obstacle was thrown in our way: getting a breastfed baby to take a bottle. I write this sat with tears running down my face and the baby screaming in the bedroom as her Dad tries for the second time today to get her to drink my hard-won expressed milk. I feel like popping my head around the door and saying to her “excuse me, do you realise how long it took me to produce that particular little bit of milky nectar?”

Tears running down my face is just a normal thing, by the way. I cry at practically anything, these days, including old people who smile and children who look sad. Listening to my baby screaming is just carte blanche for me to really go for it with the blubbering. It’s cathartic.

Anyway: I can sort of understand why an exclusively breastfed baby who is six months old might take a little persuading to accept a rubbery, not-nipple-like-at-all protrusion into her mouth. It must actually be quite a horrible surprise when all you’ve ever known is soft skin! But get used to it babycakes, because Mummy needs to get more than two hours sleep at a time otherwise her brain might go into shutdown and then where would we be?

We’ve been trying with the Medela “Calmia” teat, which is supposedly good for breastfed babies because they have to work at extracting the milk in a similar way to how they would do it at the breast – the milk doesn’t simply flow, they have to use their mouth muscles to pull it out. Sounds good, in theory, but part of me thinks I should try and make it easier for her so that she wants to do it! If it’s only one feed a day that I’m feeding expressed milk from a bottle then I can’t imagine she’ll suddenly throw her hands up and stop loving boobs. Or will she?

I also have the MAM bottle here, so I’ll let you know how I get on with that, if the Calmia doesn’t go down so well. I get the feeling we’re going to have to persevere with this bottle-feeding malarkey – maybe I should go out for a few hours and let them get on with it. Where would I go? I think I’d be nervous to be out on my own after all of this time! Would my boobs go hard and explode? Would I just constantly think about the baby? Would I CRY? Probably. I’ll keep you in the loop.

Tips in the comment box, if you would – you know how I like to read them!

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  1. Laura
    December 13, 2016 / 11:42 am

    Crazy jealous. My little one refused the bottle totally. After weeks of tears (from us both) and trying every tip I could get, we gave up. She would spit the milk out and go purple screaming. She’s still feeding at 15 months. Will drink cows milk fine, but won’t tolerate breast milk from anything but the source.

  2. Sigal
    December 13, 2016 / 11:52 am

    My son was the same, he still mostly get boob and not bottle (14 months) but now he loves daddy time and he knows the whole process from the breast milk bags until the bottle. He did refused them when I went back to work when he was 8 months but after a day or two he agreed to take the bottle. I love the MAM bottles and they are breast feeding advisors most recommended.

  3. Romina
    December 13, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    We started introducing the bottle when Little man was 6 week old. My letdown was very strong and it gave him serious cramps. We used the nuby natural touch bottles and he took them without problems. The Calmia was hell. We even tried our self’s to get water out of it but it is simply impossible!
    After a good week I just gave him from the source again 🙂 (I was home alone, and it was just easier) Every night when my husband got home he gave him a bottle. I expressed milk after every feed so we would have enough on hand when he got hungry. He breastfed until he was 15 months, then I got pregnant and he would signal (hand in the air) no more milk. So now he is waiting for the milk to come back. I would love it if he could drink alongside the baby 🙂

    • Jo
      February 2, 2017 / 8:32 am

      Wouldn’t he be too old for that?

  4. Alice
    December 13, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    This is literally my life right now. Our boy took bottles at 6 weeks but we got lazy doing it every day and now he point blank refuses. I am can’t stop sitting in the other room crying either….at least I am not alone! xx

  5. Helen
    December 13, 2016 / 3:13 pm

    I introduced a bottle very early on – between 4 – 6 weeks. My husband would use it to feed in the early evening and I would breastfeed the rest of the time. Both my babies were fine with it …I think starting early is the key though.

    • Catherine
      December 26, 2016 / 7:44 am

      Yes, Ruth, if you’re reading now in preparation for no 2, this is good advice. I had the opposite problem: my son was in special care nursery for his first few days getting I.v. antibiotics and the nurses gave him bottled formula with my permission, comping with my expressed colostrum (they recommended he have formula because he was unwell, but I have strong reservations about it to this day). At the same time he was *extremely* fussy at the breast, to the point only the most experienced and patient midwife at the hospital could get him to latch successfully. We eventually transitioned to breastfeeding, after almost six weeks of my expressing, with help from a good LC. On the bright side he is now happy to feed from breast or bottle. Despite what we went through, if I have another baby I will introduce a bottle early on because it is wonderful to have the flexibility. I would just wait a few weeks to get bub used to the source first! Well, that was a convoluted story. I’m sure you understand, though.

  6. Jennifer
    December 13, 2016 / 8:05 pm

    We introduced a bottle at about 8 weeks and my daughter took it fine to start with, but then after a few days she started refusing it, to the point where even the sight of the bottle would send her into a complete meltdown! We gave up after months of trying (and lots of tired tears – mine!), but then one day I went out for a couple of hours, came home and she was in bed having been bottle fed! It obviously made a difference that I wasn’t in sight. However, she will only take formula in the bottle and still point blank refuses expressed boob milk!

  7. Lisa
    December 13, 2016 / 11:32 pm

    We started at 8 weeks too per the doctor’s recommendation. We only did the bottle every few days just so he would get used to it.

  8. Katherine
    December 14, 2016 / 9:08 am

    I am having the same with my 5 and a half month old 🙁

    I tried and tried but almost gave up and haven’t tried in so long as it ended up with a screaming baby and teary mum every time !! The teat wouldn’t even touch her lip and she would start gagging and bring up any milk in her stomach! And I didn’t even put it in her mouth, i would wait for her to accept it !

    I know I need to persevere because the time will come when I need to be away from her or I may want some freedom to do something alone (would be too lonesome without her still) !

    I also have such an emotional attachment to breastfeeding I cried the first time I tried her an expressed bottle. I’m a whimp!! My husband is dying to feed her too but I think he needs to put in the time as she won’t take it from me! He works long hours so mostly only sees her asleep Monday- Friday so it’s hard to get the opportunity.

    I’ve been so so lucky than feeding had gone so well and I love it. I plan to go on until she is one…( not that I have a choice if she won’t take a bottle! ) .. but it would be nice to have the freedom to let him feed her from time to time .

  9. December 14, 2016 / 12:43 pm

    Both of my children did take anything offered, as long as there was food involved, but both were introduced to the bottle at a very young age (6 weeks) because my supply was so low they needed some extra. I had a hard time not being able to feed them exclusively, but looking back it made things easier in the long run. They would take food from different persons, so I could have some rest.

  10. Claire L
    December 14, 2016 / 6:31 pm

    I combo fed from early on so my daughter got used to feeding from a bottle no problem. She used an Avent bottle at first but had bad wind so we switched to Dr Browns and it was much better altho more of a faff to wash, it was worth it.

  11. December 14, 2016 / 7:16 pm

    My baby is 4 months old and we have similar problems. The Calma didn’t really work for us either. Nuby has been better on the odd occasion I’ve been out.

  12. Ainil
    December 20, 2016 / 4:22 am

    Try Comotomo honey. Introduced it to my baby when she was 3mo and that’s the only bottle she would drink from. And the bottle can last you for monthsss since it’s silicone and doesn’t get scratched.

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