Alternatives To Supplemental Bottles
This article offers a mother alternative methods to use for breastfeeding without having to revert to giving the infant a bottle.
For breastfeeding an adopted baby (see an expansion of information on this topic in another article), a premature baby (see an expansion of information on this topic in another article), or in any circumstances in which the newborn is unable to get enough nutrition from mother alone, it is advised using cups, breastfeeding supplementers, or syringes in lieu of supplemental bottles during the first few weeks when baby needs to learn to suck properly from mother's breast.
Use a small cup that holds just one or two ounces of human milk or formula. (Flexible plastic cups designed especially for feeding babies are available from lactation consultants and La Leche League International.) Fill the cup at least half full. Support baby upright on your lap, with a cloth diaper, towel, or bib under her chin to catch any drips. Swaddle her in a receiving blanket if her hands get in the way. Hold the cup to baby's lips and tilt it so that the liquid touches her lips. Allow baby to lap and swallow the milk. Don't pour it inter her mouth. Let baby set the pace. Refill the cup as needed or fill two or three before you start the feeding.
Supplementers have the advantage of teaching baby to suck only from mother's breast, so as not to confuse him by presenting a variety of artificial nipples. As an added benefit, mother gets hormonal stimulation as baby sucks at her breast. A supplement should be obtained through a lactation consultant, who can supervise progress of the baby.
The syringe-and-finger-feeding method is especially helpful for fathers to supplement the primarily breastfed infant. Let baby suck on one and a half inches of your index finger (most fathers and women with large finger use the pinkie finger) and slide the tip of the syringe inside the corner of baby's mouth alongside your finger, squirting in the supplemental milk as your baby sucks. You can use a supplementer in similar fashion placing the tubing along the tip of your finger, so that when baby sucks he also gets milk or formula from the tubing. Once again, supervision from a lactation consultant is strongly recommended.
Breast and Nipple Care
Lactation experts used to recommend that mothers with flat or inverted nipples wear breast shells prenatally and postnatally between feedings to encourage the nipples to stand out. However, research on breast shells has not shown that they are helpful. Most specialists believe that a baby who knows how to latch on properly can shape any kind of nipple to deliver milk.
Breast shields can be used to protect sensitive sore nipples from rubbing against clothing. The pressure from the shields encourages leaking, so milk may collect the shells between feedings. You should discard this milk, since germs can multiply rapidly in the warm environment inside your bra.
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