What about bottles?
Feeding an infant is a really cool thing to do. You might be thinking, “Boy I wish I could give her a bottle so I could feel more a part of what is going on.”
It’s a good idea to be careful about bottles in the early weeks.
Bottles and breasts require a different kinds of sucking. Babies can sometimes do both, but there are some babies whose breastfeeding ability gets messed up if they start having bottles before breastfeeding is well established.
The other problem with giving bottles to newborns is that each time the baby has a bottle, the mother’s breasts lose an opportunity to get the stimulation they need – from the baby’s sucking – to help their breasts make milk. That can make it harder for the mother to establish a good milk supply.
Bottom line: It’s best to wait at least six weeks before giving a breastfed baby a bottle.
If a baby does get a bottle in the early weeks, for whatever reason, it would be better if it were pumped breastmilk rather than formula. It would also be a good idea for Mom to pump breastmilk (she will probably have heard about breast pumps). That will help her keep up her milk supply. Breastmilk keeps very well in the freezer, by the way.
But there’s no need to rush into giving the baby bottles. Believe us, you’ll have lot of chances to feed your child eventually.
What if my partner can’t breastfeed?
Sometimes moms run into breastfeeding problems they can’t solve and they have to give up as a result. There are a few things you need to understand about this.
The loss of breastfeeding can be very emotional. Most mothers really want to breastfeed and some say they feel pressure to do it. So when a mom has to give up it can be devastating. She feels like her body failed at doing something it’s supposed to be able to do. She feels like she’s missing out on an important experience. Some mothers say they feel guilty, or they feel that people are judging them for giving their baby formula.
What can you do about it?
Well, you can’t fix it, but just be as supportive as you can.
Keep in mind that many mothers already feel pressure about breastfeeding. They don’t need more pressure from their partners. What she needs from you is your support regardless of how things turn out.
Don’t tell her it doesn’t matter. It may matter a great deal to her. Some mothers need time to almost grieve the loss of breastfeeding.
Let her know, in all sorts of little ways, what a good mother she is and how much your baby loves her and how much you love her and how much you admire everything she has done.
She’ll be OK. It may take a little time. But don’t try and “make” her get over it faster.
There is one more way you can help. Help her learn about formula. Some mothers are so sure they are going to breastfeed that they learn all about breastfeeding and not about formula. So, when a mother unexpectedly switches to formula, suddenly she doesn’t know anything about how to feed her baby. So help her figure it out. Get online, call the doctor, call the health unit and help your partner find the information she needs.