How Ditching the Bottle Simplified My Life
When we had our first baby, I had my breast pump and bottles all ready. I had studied up on how to store breastmilk and was excited to involve my husband in the process of feeding, especially at night so I could get some extra sleep. Seventeen months later when I weaned my daughter, the breast pump was still in the box, unopened.
Before I continue on about how I decided to feed my baby, I can’t stress enough that there are MANY paths to success in feeding our babies. This is a loaded topic because as moms we face a lot of scrutiny and judgment when it comes to how we feed our babies. What follows is simply my experience and the path I chose, which had its pros and cons.
Feeding with the Breast Felt Easier
Each time I started thinking about beginning the process of training my baby to take a bottle, I would get overwhelmed by all the planning and prep that goes into it, from pumping, milk storage, and keeping up my supply from missed feedings to remembering to thaw milk and properly clean the bottles. It felt like a lot to juggle on top of the experience of being a new mom and I just didn’t have the energy to face it. So, as the days went on, I repeatedly set the intention of starting to introduce a bottle but every time I would ultimately decide to wait a little longer. It required too much effort, and feeding at the breast felt simpler and easier.
I loved that when my baby wanted to eat, I didn’t have to do a single bit of prep or cleanup. Just offer the breast. I ultimately think it gave me more rest and downtime. So, I finally decided to give up on my bottle-feeding plan and just use the breast during our entire breastfeeding journey. I’d like to say I made this decision because it felt best for my baby, but truthfully it felt best for me.
Challenges of Ditching the Bottle
Choosing to ditch the bottle does not come without some downsides. When my baby was frequently feeding, I simply could not leave her for very long periods of time. I had to be available. I lived with the worry that if I could not be with my baby for some unexpected reason, I would be putting her in a bad position. This is because when you don’t introduce a bottle, most babies will flat out refuse to take a bottle, mine included. They will go on a hunger strike and not eat until mom gets home.
On a few occasions, I needed to be gone for 3+ hours for work meetings and my baby was inconsolable. I would express a bottle of milk, so my husband had something to offer her. But of course, she wouldn’t take it and cried most of the time I was gone, which made me feel like the worst mom ever for not preparing her better for those rare occasions I was gone. Luckily, these moments were few and far between because I primarily work from home and can take my baby to most work events.
I also did every single night feed. But that felt easier to me than having to worry about pumping to keep my supply going for night feeds. I preferred to just reach over, grab the baby, put her on the breast, and then plop her back in the bassinet without ever having to get up or be woken up by my husband going downstairs to make a bottle, which would have kept me up anyway.
Would I Ditch the Bottle Again?
As we get ready to welcome another baby, I don’t know what path we will choose for feeding. I do wonder if training her to occasionally take a bottle would be wise in case something unexpected comes up and I have to be gone. But honestly, just feeding with the breast still sounds more appealing to me. As I figure it out, I will have that same unopened breast pump and bottles ready and waiting, just in case.