There are few things in life sweeter than feeding your baby. Whether you and your partner plan to bottle feed, breastfeed, or use a combination of both methods, you can help. Here's how!
Bottle-Feeding or Using Combined Feeding Methods
- Safety Warning: Never heat formula or breast milk in the microwave as uneven hot spots can scald your baby. Instead, run bottles under warm water tap or immerse in warm water for a few minutes. Check the temperature by spilling a few drops on your inner wrist. Milk should be at room temperature or slightly warm, but never hot. When in doubt, cool bottle before feeding.
- Research the best bottles and nipples for your baby. If your partner is also breastfeeding, buy nipples that are compatible, such as "slow flow" nipples.
- Talk to your pediatrician or a lactation consultant about when to introduce a bottle if your baby will also be breastfeeding.
- Anoint yourself "Sir Bottle Scrubber." Clean and sterilize bottles and nipples. Different brands of nipples and bottles have different guidelines for washing. Some brands require boiling nipples and bottles in hot water, removing with sterile tongs, and placing upside-down on a clean paper towel to dry. Other brands recommend boiling the nipples before their first use only and cleaning bottles and nipples with a bottlebrush after each subsequent use with soap and hot water, then rinsing thoroughly. Read the directions for your bottle system and you're on your way!
- Volunteer for feeds. Find a comfortable place that offers back support and an armrest. Lay baby in a semi-reclined position, with bottom in your lap and head and back resting on your inner arm. Keep baby's head and spine aligned, as swallowing becomes difficult if baby's head is tilted too far forward or back. Slide the nipple (not just the tip) between the tongue and roof of baby's mouth, and keep the nipple full of liquid to reduce ingested air.
Yes, breastfeeding is natural. So is walking—but few of us got that down on our first try. Both Baby and Mommy need time—sometimes up to six weeks—to develop a rhythm and overcome unforeseen complications. Your help and encouragement can greatly increase the odds of success.
- Learn the mechanics of the various holds including the cradle, cross cradle, clutch (or football), and reclining position. From where she is sitting, it can be difficult for a nursing mother to see if baby is positioned correctly. For example, in the cradle and cross cradle hold, infant and mommy should be belly to belly. Line your baby's nose up with Mommy's nipple, with the baby's head slightly below the breast. This angle encourages your little one to open wide when latching on. Make sure that baby's top and bottom lips are splayed above and below the nipple (like a fish), with the nipple completely in baby's mouth. Baby's lips should cover the areola (pigmented area around the nipple) where the milk ducts are located.
- Mom's shoulders should be relaxed, not bunched up at her ears. (Neck rub anyone?)
- Be able to recognize the signs of engorgement, breast infections, and clogged milk ducts.
- Gather contact information for local lactation consultants and nursing mothers' support groups. Be there during visits with a lactation counselor or consultant. (Many insurance companies reimburse visits with a certified lactation consultant.)
- Put yourself in charge of keeping the parts of the breast pump clean and ready to go.
- Hold the baby as your partner finds a comfortable nursing position. At first, she may need help positioning the baby.
- Offer your partner the remote control, a book, water, or snacks. Nursing takes a lot of energy, and women can quickly get dehydrated.
- Finally, sit with your spouse and keep her company. Make her laugh. Remember, a nursing mom feels responsible for her baby's health and development (which may sometimes cause her to feel overwhelmed). Offer encouragement any way you can and watch your family flourish.