Your Breastfeeding Coach: When Should I Introduce a Bottle?

[ 0 ] July 15, 2014 |

When should I start pumping and when is the best time to introduce a bottle?

Many women wonder when is the best time to begin pumping. You want to be sure baby is getting enough, but you also would like to begin to store some milk in the freezer. When is it right to offer a bottle so that someone else can feed the baby?

Here are some general guidelines in regards to pumping and when it’s best to introduce a bottle. Both can be done successfully to keep both you and baby on track for long-term successful breastfeeding…


IBreastPumpReviewsMothert is best not to begin pumping until your milk is fully in, your baby is eating well, and is back to their birth weight. The hormone prolactin is the hormone responsible for milk production and it is high right after birth and will slowly decrease until about day seven to 10, when it will then stabilize.  If you are pumping while your hormone level is high along with your baby nursing, you may begin to overproduce. You may be feeling anxious about producing enough milk for you baby and “want to be sure you have enough milk.”  However, over-producing can be just as problematic. Waiting those seven to 10 days will help you produce the right amount of milk for your baby. This will set the stage for successful pumping without introducing issues with your milk supply.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to pump sooner; this should be done under the supervision of a health-care professional or preferably a lactation consultant to guide you. If your baby isn’t gaining, your milk isn’t coming in, or you have a history of breast surgery or low milk supply, earlier pumping may be necessary for your success. If all is going well and your baby is back to their birth weight by two weeks of age, pumping can safely be initiated.

When you pump, it’s recommended to pump both sides at the same time for 10-15 minutes total. When pumping, you are either doing so in place of a feeding, or pumping right after your baby has finished nursing. You don’t want to pump before a feeding or in between feedings. Your baby may not be satisfied at the next feeding, as you are taking away some of the milk your baby has come to expect and they may want to eat more often. This presents new and unwanted challenges.

If you are pumping in place of a feeding, pump as close to baby’s natural feeding time as possible. If you are pumping after a feeding to help collect some extra milk, try to pump within 15 to 20 minutes after the feeding. Every time you breastfeed, your hormone prolactin elevates and remains elevated for 15 to 20 minutes. Therefore, immediate pumping will help you capitalize on the high hormone level, stimulate you better, and increase your supply. If you want to build a supply of milk for your freezer without over-producing, pump one to three times per day after baby is done feeding. Prolactin levels have a high and low throughout a 24-hour period. They are highest in the early morning hours, and lowest during the late afternoon and early evening hours. Therefore, pumping after a morning feeding will give you more leftovers than pumping in the evening.

Related: Your Breastfeeding Coach: How To Know You Have a Good Latch

Introducing a bottle

Many moms have read about nipple confusion and don’t want this for their baby. The most risky time for this to occur is during the first one to two weeks of life. Methods of supplementation were covered in-depth in Book 3 of my series, Your Breastfeeding Coach: The Help You Need for Successful Breastfeeding, and reasons given why you should postpone using a bottle. Waiting until breastfeeding is well established and baby is back to their birth weight before introducing a bottle will set you up for a successful transition. Babies usually take a bottle best when expressed breast milk is in the bottle and if offered by someone other than mother. Sometimes they can even sense and smell if you’re in the room. Waiting too long to offer a bottle may be an issue, as well. Waiting for many months, or until just before returning to work, may not prove to be very successful, as babies usually show a strong preference for breastfeeding.

mother-feeding-newborn-a-bottleIf you want your baby to go back and forth between breast and bottle, it is best to introduce a bottle sometime between two to four weeks of age. You will likely have to keep offering bottles as part of their routine, so they remember that taking bottles is OK. If you give them one bottle, then not another for two months, they may not remember the newly learned behavior. Keep it fresh in their minds; perhaps giving a bottle somewhat regularly, say every one to three days. Some babies go back and forth without difficulty, others struggle with a bottle.  You don’t know how your baby may respond to moving between breast and bottle, so I suggest offering the bottle feedings with some consistency.

There are many aspects to breastfeeding; the more you know and are prepared for, and the more success you will have. I hope my book will assist and guide you to lay a strong foundation to help you meet your breastfeeding goals. Don’t doubt yourself as a mother. Remember no one knows your baby better than you do.  Trust yourself and enjoy your new adventure. It’s like no other you’ve ever been on before!

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Category: Health, Women's Health

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About Jill Lindquist: Jill Lindquist is very passionate about breastfeeding and helping moms and babies along their breastfeeding journey. She’s also about empowering the mother and giving her the confidence and education she needs to love, nurture and [...]
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