I'll start off by saying every baby is different so, obviously, what works for me may result in hell for you... if you've had a different experience, leave a comment and let us know what else to expect! Also, not everyone needs to or wants to introduce the bottle at all... I know Moms who never did, which is great too. However, I wanted Jane to be comfortable with the bottle so that it was possible sometimes for me to have a little alone time.
For breastfed babies, "they" say to wait until 4-6 weeks to introduce the bottle to avoid "nipple confusion". We introduced the bottle to Jane when she was 4 weeks old. Jane's latch was solid from the get-go, however, I was still stressed to the max about screwing anything up as I was having a hard enough time with bf-ing as it was! If you've followed my blog for awhile, you'll remember that I struggled with bf-ing until Jane was about 6 weeks old (see these posts from June).
Here are some of the tips that I have learned - basically common sense but mine got up and left in the 12th week of pregnancy, so maybe these will save you a headache:
- The first few times we tried the bottle, I fed Jane. I thought it would be too much change if suddenly she was not feeding from the nipple and that it was now coming from Daddy.
- Initially, I just used the bottles that came with my breastpump. I found these gave Jane a lot of gas. I switched to "Playtex Vent-air" and they work great. My sis uses "Dr. Browns" and she likes those a lot as well.
- Perhaps it was the bottle's fault (see point above) but, at first, I was giving Jane her bottles at the 9 o'clock feeding. I found that she would be so gas-y that she'd grunt the whole night after a bottle-feed This was before I switched the bottles but after a few night's of poor sleep, I never tried the nighttime bottle again... not worth the risk for me! :p
- Unless necessary, I only give Jane one bottle, every other day. I've heard it's easier for them to get milk out of the bottle and it's definitely a different "sucking"... so I don't want her to realize that she'd prefer the bottle and give up on my boob.
- If you are going to do the nighttime bottle for Daddy feeding, which may help the Moms out there who needs a few extra hours sleep (OK, what Mom doesn't need more sleep?), I'd recommend pumping the milk for that bottle the night before. The nurses here really stress the difference between daytime milk and nighttime milk - night milk is thicker so it keeps baby fuller longer so they sleep longer (in a dream world). So, it would probably be best to use nighttime milk for a nighttime feed to ensure you don't counteract the whole point of having hubby do the night-feed! :)
- I was unable to pump a bottle the night of for a nighttime feed because my milk was so thick after 8 o'clock-ish that the pump couldn't get it out of my boobs! The first night this happened I messaged my blog-friend Lara freaking out because I thought my milk had disappeared! When I put Jane on the boob, however, she came off with a face covered in milk so no worries (i.e. don't freak if this happens to you too)! ha ha ha.
- As far as "how much milk?"... I'm sure this is different for every baby. When Jane first took the bottle at 4 weeks, she drank about 2.5-3 oz, so I'd pump 4oz just to be safe. Now, at 11 weeks, I usually pump about 6 oz and if she's still hungry afterward, I give her the boob, but that's rarely happened.
- Last point, make sure you buy bottles with "slow flow" nipples. There is a difference (who knew?) and the slow flow is best for new babies. I am still using slow flow with Jane and I have NO IDEA when I'm supposed to move her up - I'm hoping she'll tell me, ha ha ha, which is hilarious because you'll probably hear about it as I'll be freaking out as to why she's so grouchy on the bottle in however many weeks until I realize that it's because she wants more milk, more quickly! :p
I hope this helps... these are definitely not anything I learned about or knew about before Jane arrived! :)