How to teach your baby to nurse after being on the bottle: One Mom’s Story
Before my first child was born, I was grossed out by the whole thought of breastfeeding, but knowing how good it was I decided “Sure, why not try it the first 2-4 weeks to give the baby a good start.” While my son nursed okay in the hospital (we were only in a day after delivery because of a death in the family), once we got home feeding became quite an issue. One part was probably, just being a first time mom and another part of it was a bad latch that caused soreness and bleeding. At any rate, we found nursing to be extremely painful and emotionally draining, with my son screaming and refusing to latch onto the breast.
By the third day home and concern for him not getting enough nutrition, I sent my husband off to Target to purchase the Medela Freestyle pump. At least if I was going to having to pump I would be able to do so hands free – LOL. My pump turned me into a champion milk producer and pretty soon I was able to produce enough at a time to freeze a bottles worth for each fresh bottle I pumped.
Finally, it came time to go back to work. To my amazement I did not cry the first day back, in fact, I enjoyed the ability to have a cup of coffee without interruption and conversations with other adults. While I treasured this time to be out of the house, I still missed my son very much and quickly became frustrated with the little time I had to spend with him in the evenings, between pumping more milk, cleaning bottles and sharing him with loving grandparents on the weekends.
After about three weeks of this I had had enough and was determined to figure out what I may have been doing wrong, so he could learn to nurse from me when I was home in the evenings and weekends.
Here are some of the key things that helped me teach him to nurse at 10 weeks old.
Kangaroo Time. This has helped me with both my son and now my newborn daughter. For those that have not heard of “kangaroo time”. It involves skin to skin contact between your belly or chest with the baby’s face/belly/chest to provide them with your warmth, the feeling of closeness and develop a bond with them.
Support pillow: Don’t feel obligated to use a “nursing pillow” they do work, but find a position that is relaxing for you and the baby. Sometimes sitting on the bed or couch is easier than a rocker so find whatever most comfortable for you.
Being relaxed: This mainly comes with time, so don’t get hung up if things don’t go right. Just keep trying.
Don’t force your baby: While there is a little bit of coaxing involved pushing a baby’s head onto your breast will often lead them to fight back more than accept nursing. Instead try thinking about your breast as “a bottle” holding it to their lips like you would a regular bottle. (There may be some positioning adjustments that you may have to make to accommodate this.) This technique has really helped me while nursing my newborn daughter.
Give yourself a break: It may not work the first, second or even tenth time. But keep with it. Do what you need to make sure baby is getting their needed nutrition and you some peace of mind. Remember, there is absolutely nothing wrong with pumping exclusively and if anything it may give you a much needed break and a bit of freedom you wouldn’t have if they nursed from the breast. But for those that may have found themselves frustrated the first time around, know that there is hope and you can teach an older baby new tricks.