Bottle Feeding

You may find that bottle feeding is the only alternative feeding method that works after exploring the other ways.  Bottle feeding can be useful if the infant has difficulty opening their mouth to get good latch on the breast. A word of caution, babies who switch back and forth between bottle feeding and breast feeding are likely to suffer from nipple confusion.  Bottle nipples flow faster an easier than the breast and babies can often develop dependency on the easier method.

You may find that having your partner be the one to offer bottle feeding will reduce the nipple confusion. It is a great way to get your partner and their child to experience a little of the connection you are building with breastfeeding.

Be sure to talk with your doctor or lactation consultant before embarking on an alternative feeding method.

Finger Feeding

Finger feeding has several drawbacks as an alternative feeding method, it is hard to learn, it is awkward to use, and can cause dependency.  However finger feeding is useful for babies with a weak suck, who are experiencing nipple confusion, or are having neurological problems.

A small tube is inserted into a container of expressed milk.  A baby bottle with nipple makes an ideal vessel.  Your baby should be positioned in a semi reclining position.  Place a clean finger nail side down into their mouth and move it back toward their soft palate. If they happen to gag retract your finger slightly and wait till your baby is comfortable. Place the tube next to your finger which will provide the nourishment for your baby as they suck.

Be sure to talk with your doctor or lactation consultant to get some tips on how to implement this method.

Cup or Spoon Feeding

One easy to implement alternative feeding method is cup or spoon feeding.  Using this methods can be beneficial for an baby that has jaundice, poor elimination patterns, or bad latch.  Cup feeding helps reduce the occurrence of nipple confusion and allows the infant to lap milk at its own pace.  It can be messy but is an easy temporary solution.

To begin place a towel around your baby or loosely wrap them in a blanket.  Fill the spoon or soft flexible cup with expressed breast milk and bring to the baby’s lower lip. Drip just enough milk into their mouth to give them a taste.  DO NOT POUR!

Before starting any alternative feeding method be sure to consult with your doctor or lactation consultant.

Alternative feeding methods

Situations may arise that require you to use an alternative feeding method for a short time to help build your milk supply. With the goal of exclusively breastfeeding you should practice any of the following methods only under the guidance of your doctor or lactation consultant.  These methods should only be used on a temporary basis to correct breastfeeding problems as they are not viable long term solutions.

  • Cup feeding – a flexible 1-2 ounce cup is filled with milk and held to your bab’s lips. The baby is held upright and allowed to lick at the milk. DO NOT POUR!  Do not use this method when your baby is crying.
  • Spoon feeding – similar to cup feeding but uses a soft and flexible spoon. This is a more tedious and time consuming method, but effective.
  • Syringe or eye dropper – milk is dripped into the mouth of the upright child.  A syringe with a long tip can be used to feed  at the breast.
  • Finger Feeding – The tub of a supplemental feeder is held to a clean adult finger. The baby sucks at the finger and get milk through the tube.  Effective.
  • Supplemental Nutrition System – Used when the baby can effectively latch but needs additional nutrition. A reservoir is worn about the neck with a small tube that is inserted into the baby’s mouth to provide additional nutrition.
  • Haberman Feeder – A special bottle with a long nipple and valve that rewards any level of suckling.  Designed for babies with developmental delays or facial abnormalities.

Nipple Confusion

When your baby does not know how to suckle the breast properly due to use of a pacifier or bottle it is called nipple confusion.

To avoid nipple confusion simply try to stay away from giving your baby pacifiers or bottles for the first six weeks of life.  Nipple confusion impairs breast feeding success by compromising your milk production. Your infant’s disorganized suck won’t effectively remove milk from your breast which leads to a decreased milk supply, and many mothers deal with the frustration by turning completely to bottle feeding.

If you are transitioning your baby from bottle to breast or breast to bottle be patient and persistent.  Feeding from a bottle is different from breastfeeding as the suck is different, the volume and milk flow is different, the taste, texture, and temperature are different, and bottles rewards a lazier sucking style.  Your baby will make the change but it might not happen in the first few attempts.   The best time to introduce a new feeding method is when your baby is awake and alert and not too hungry.  If they are fussy and frustrated from not being fed a new method for eating will not help them transition.  The quiet stage right after they awaken is usually the best choice.

If you are going from bottle to breast, express some milk to trigger the let down reflex.  Babies familiar with the bottle will want the milk immediately.  Once your baby catches on to breastfeeding you can cease expressing milk beforehand.

If you are going from breast to bottle you may find that experimentation with different nipple types and materials is necessary to find one your child likes.  It can also be easier to let your partner feed from the bottle as some babies refuse to bottle feed when they believe mom has two perfectly good milk filled breasts.

Latch Evaluation

How can you tell if your baby has established good latch?

  • Does your baby have your entire nipple and about one inch of the areola in their mouth?
  • After you get the let-down feeling can you hear your baby swallow?
  • Does your baby follow a “suck, suck, suck, swallow” pattern
  • Can you see noticeable movement in the jaw that should also make your baby’s ears wiggle?
  • Is the area around your baby’s temple moving?
  • Are your baby’s lips everted (turned outward) around the nipple?
  • Is the nursing session pain-free?

If you cannot answer yes then your baby may not have good latch.  You should break suction by inserting a finger into your baby’s mouth at the inside cheek.  Hook your nipple and pull it out as you draw your breast away.  If you allow your baby to slide off the nipple without breaking suction then you will wind up with sore and cracked nipples.

Inducing Lactation In Adoptive Mothers

A growing number of adoptive mothers are exploring the option of breastfeeding their adopted child. The body of an adoptive mother does not have the benefit of nine months of pregnancy hormones to prepare the breasts for breastfeeding. There are several different methods adoptive mothers can use to help them induce lactation and begin breast milk production. All of these methods will include at least one form of nipple stimulation. Working closely with a lactation consultant statistically increases the success rate of adoptive mother breastfeeding.

The most natural way to induce lactation as an adoptive mother is through following a healthy breastfeeding diet. A galactagogue is breastfeeding terminology for anything a mother ingests to increases breast milk production. Some galactagogues are foods and some galactagogues are herbal supplements or tea. For starters it is recommended to attempt to induce lactation through diet.

If following a healthy breastfeeding diet fails to induce lactation in an adoptive mother the second line of defense is to try herbal remedies. There are plenty of herbal medications used to increase breast milk production by mothers in the United States and other countries.

A few prescription medications, originally prescribed for other reasons have been found to stimulate breast milk production. Other nutritional supplements as suggested by your pediatrician or lactation consultant.

Metoclopramide and other such medications must be prescribed by your doctor and do have side effects. Talk with your lactation consultant about medication choices to make sure there will be no adverse affects.

Any medication must be accompanied by regular nipple stimulation every two or three hours.  You can use breast self massage or a breast pump as either will offer the same effect.  Once your new child arrives you should encourage them to feed at your breast as this will begin building the feeding behavior and habit in your baby.

There is no way to predict how your body and breast milk supply will respond when inducing lactation for your adopted child. Realistically it is unlikely that you will supply enough breast milk to meet the full nutritional needs of your adopted child. You may want to consider donor breast milk.

Most off all don’t give up on breastfeeding your adopted baby. Inducing lactation will be hard work. Most adoptive mothers that breastfeed look back fondly on all of the effort and time they spend bonding with their new baby.

Breastfeeding Diet Links:
What should I eat?
12 more foods to add to your breastfeeding meal plan
More breastfeeding diet information
Foods that might cause a fussy baby
Fussy foods test

Breastfeeding and Medication:
Finding Safe Medications While Breastfeeding
What is a Galactagogue?
Meditations to Avoid While Breastfeeding
Upset Stomach and Diarrhea Relief

Breast Milk Supply and Demand:
Increasing Breast Milk Production
Common Misconceptions about Breast Milk Supply
Three Things Everyone Thinks Dramatically Increases Milk Supply

How Do I Resume Breastfeeding?

Circumstances may arise that may cause you to stop breastfeeding. It is not desirable, but some medical treatments require the mother to stop breastfeeding for a period of time. Some mothers find that being separated from their baby has led to decreased breast milk supply despite pumping breast milk. Regardless of the reason you stopped breastfeeding it is possible to reestablish breastfeeding. Renewing breast milk supply after a pause is called relactation.

Relactating will allow you to provide all or part of the nourishment your baby requires. Relactation is most successful if you have given birth recently or if your breast milk supply has been low or nonexistent for a only a short period of time.

Here are some tips to establish relactation. These tips are similar to those for inducing lactation in adoptive mothers.

Increase Breastfeeding Frequency – Nurse your baby frequently. Your baby’s frequent suckling is critical for reestablishing your breast milk supply. Plan on nursing eight to ten times a day with at least two night breastfeeding sessions. Each breastfeeding session should last fifteen to twenty minutes when working to establish your breast milk supply.

Nipple Stimulation – In between breastfeeding sessions stimulate your breasts with self massage or a breast pump.

Stay relaxed. Keep the breastfeeding sessions relaxed and pleasurable for you and your child. Your child may take several days to get back into the habit of nursing from your breast.

Be realistic – Don’t expect instant results. Your breast milk supply will gradually increase over a period of weeks. Relactation does not guarantee a return to your child deriving their full nutritional needs exclusively from breastfeeding. You may need to supplement your baby’s nutritional intake with donor breast milk or solid foods (if they are over six months).

Monitor the weigh of your baby closely during the time you are re-lactating. Your child’s weight as well as their diaper frequency are both good indicators your child is getting enough breast milk. Be sure to keep your pediatrician and lactation consultant apprised of how things are going.

Read More:
Increasing Breast Milk Production
Common Misconceptions about Breast Milk Supply
Three Things Everyone Thinks Dramatically Increases Milk Supply

Premature Birth and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and premature birth are compatible. If you were preparing to breastfeed your baby, premature birth is no reason to give up that dream. It is natural to feel helpless if your child requires a lot of medical attention. Good communication with your doctor and other members of the hospital staff will allow you to be as involved as possible with your child at this time.

Babies born as a result of a premature birth often have special needs. Premature babies are smaller and be can more susceptible to infection. Your baby may require significant time inside a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit which will make it very hard for you to directly breastfeed. Pumping breast milk for your premature baby is a great way for you as a mother to be involved in restoring your baby to health. Pumping breast milk will provide your child with the ideal source of nourishment and keep your breast milk supply ready for when your newborn can effectively nurse. Breastfeeding research has found the benefits of breast milk to premature or sick babies to be more pronounced.

If for health reasons you cannot provide your own breast milk to your premature child. You can look into the availability of donated breast milk through a human milk bank to provide the benefits of breast milk to your premature child.

Read More About Breastfeeding Benefits:
Health Advantages of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Benefits For Mom
Breastfeeding Benefits For Premature Babies
Economic and Environmental Breastfeeding Benefits

Read More About Pumping Milk:
Pumping and Expressing Breast Milk
Steps when Using a Breast Pump
Breast Milk Expression Tips
Breast Milk Expression Q & A
Types of Breast Pumps
Increasing Breast Milk Production

Should I Donate Breast Milk?

All babies benefit from nutritional composition of breast milk. Not all mothers can breastfeed their own babies. Some mothers look to breast milk donors and human milk banks to fill their child’s nutritional gap. Circumstances where a mother may not be able to provide breast milk her own child are:

  • Adoption of children
  • Limited breast milk production
  • Breast milk production not rapid enough especially the case for mothers of premature babies
  • Instances where the mother is seriously injured or ill.
  • Mothers on prescription medication that contradicts breastfeeding

“Should I donate my breast milk” is a personal question that many mothers ask themselves. Women who choose to donate breast milk are aware of the tremendous benefits of breast milk and want to support the long-term health of premature or sick infants with the impossible to duplicate nutritional composition of breast milk.

Almost any nursing mother can donate breast milk. If you are healthy with a good medical history, you are a good candidate. Once you choose to donate breast milk you should contact a human milk bank. There are two organizations that help ensures the breast milk safety and quality, The Human Milk Banking Association of North America and the National Milk Bank. They will ask you to answer some questions about your health and have your blood tested for any problems or diseases. It is wise to discuss your decision with your doctor to make sure it is the right for you.