Breastfeeding: Feeding expressed breast milk to your baby

Expressed breast milk can provide the nutrients of breast milk when you cannot be with your baby.

Many mothers combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding when they return to work or school or need to be away from their baby for other reasons. Some mothers may also need to feed expressed milk until baby is able to latch on and successfully extract milk from the mother. The suggestions below may help you combine breastfeeding with bottle feeding.

One significant difference between breast and bottle feeding is the fast flow rate common with bottles. A baby may be reluctant to breastfeed after becoming used to how quickly and easily milk flows from a bottle. There are many bottle and nipple options available that promote the same tongue and jaw motion as breastfeeding. Choose a bottle nipple that is round, with a wide base and slow flow rate. You may need to hold your baby differently for bottle feeding than you do for breastfeeding. You may find that your baby will take a bottle better if someone other than you offers it. Hold the bottle at an angle to prevent rapid flow of milk from the bottle. You may want to use a technique called “pace feeding.” Pace feeding is done by gently withdrawing the bottle nipple after a few sucks or when the baby appears tense. Keep the nipple in contact with the baby’s lower lip, allowing the baby to draw the nipple back into the mouth when ready. This helps the baby control the feeding and reminds the baby to stop when full. It also allows better coordination of sucking, swallowing and breathing. Wait a few weeks before introducing a bottle. Waiting helps establish breastfeeding as the normal feeding method and reduces the chance that your baby will prefer the bottle.

For occasional feeding, you may feed your baby by a cup, spoon, eye dropper or with a tube held or taped at finger or breast. These are temporary ways of feeding your baby without using a bottle. Talk with a breastfeeding support person to learn if this is appropriate for your situation. Bottle feeding allows you to provide your baby with your milk even when you are unable to be there. Michigan State University Extension serves as a resource for breastfeeding and offers mothers programs about breastfeeding.

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