On the wagon

We didn’t notice it happening; from the early days of mixed feeding to those combining expressed milk and breastfeeding, we moved beyond this so Elphie was almost entirely breastfed. I became more comfortable feeding in public, so she was only being given a bottle when I couldn’t feed her due to having a glass of vino, just being too exhausted to feed her AGAIN having only had an hour’s kip or to use up expressed milk. So we always had expressed milk in the fridge, but it wasn’t being used that much and it was getting to the point where I was throwing some of it away as it got past its 8 day limit (Dr Sears explains “Amazingly, research has found that human milk stored in the refrigerator for eight days actually has lower bacterial levels than freshly expressed milk.”) – although apparently that was unnecessary and I should have just frozen it at that point, oh well, you live and learn!

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On one of these drink-up the milk sessions, Elphie refused to drink – she screamed blue murder and choked when I put the bottle in her mouth. Fine, I had heard about this happening – she could smell fresh milk on me and preferred the breast, I just couldn’t bottle feed her easily any more. I had some luck getting it down her by positioning the bottle horizontally so she was on her side taking it, and hence more in the position she was used to for breastfeeding.

Then we tried just Fred feeding her. Initially she objected a bit but still took it as long as I wasn’t in the room. But this wasn’t to last. A few days ago, Fred tried to feed her and this time she point blank refused – great wailing and gnashing of teeth, accompanied by some deliberate arm flailing designed to try and push the bottle away. Then Grandmama came to visit, and she thought she’d give it a go. But after half an hour of wailing (which I found horrendous to listen to), she gave up.

So it’s just me and mine left to sustain her with no alternatives.

Apparently this is just a normal stage of reaching self-awareness, realising she prefers breast to bottle and that, “ha! I don’t have to accept this nasty bottle, no wayz no howz”. And apparently changing the bottle won’t make the difference – she’s not going to be tricked into thinking that any bottle is a breast, even if Mummy’s breasts do have weird silicon tips because of the shields!

This is going to make life tricky – I won’t be able to do any trips without her and if I want to do something alone, such as a trip to the hairdresser to avoid the chaos that reigned going with her, then someone will have to come with me to entertain her in the immediate vicinity. Which means no more one-to-one date nights, unless we are willing to break it up at a moment’s notice or the babysitter is willing to wheel her round when hungry – neither of which seem like they would a romantic date night make.

And just as Elphie is off the bottle, so will I have to be. Breastfeeding and having a drink was relatively guilt-free when I knew she had a bottle in the fridge that we could deploy if she was still hungry. Now, as her only food source, I can’t spare the three hours it would take for a small glass of wine to leave my system. So it will be back to having a sip of Fred’s wine as I did in pregnancy, and having to sate myself with just a taste.

And in the meantime, Fred is going to have to try and coax her back into bottle feeding.

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation offer a number of techniques to try and coax a baby off the wagon. The following are the ones I think we should try:

  • “It may be better to offer the bottle in a place that does not remind the baby of breast-feeding.
  • Offer the bottle as if it is a special treat. Look and act happy and confident, and talk calmly, or even sing.
  • Expect your baby to reject your initial attempts and be prepared for this reaction. Persist with the bottle held gently, but firmly, to your baby’s lips even though he or she may shake his or her head and arch away. After several minutes, put down your baby and the bottle, and move out of sight. Return a few moments later, cuddle with your baby and again happily offer the bottle.
  • Try distracting your baby. Position the baby facing out (back against your chest) and looking out of a window, at a mobile or at a TV, or walk outside.
  • Sometimes a baby will accept the bottle if the bottle-giver places Mom’s unwashed t-shirt across his or her chest and holds the bottle against this with the baby in a breast-feeding position.
  • Try feeding the baby from a cup or spoon.
  • Some mothers have found they can slip the bottle nipple into the baby’s mouth while the baby is at the breast. Next, they offer the bottle held against a bare breast. Finally, the baby will accept the bottle from others.”
  • And there is a really good post from Chronicles of a Nursing Mom that recommends cup feeding over bottle feeding, using a medicine cup and letting the baby lap it up – sounds suitably hippy for us and worth a go!

    Will we succeed? Watch this space…

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