Moms who will soon go back to work after maternity leave ask themselves several burning questions. But the one that worries them the most (apart from who will be the caregiver): how do I make sure my baby will be nourished enough when I won't always be at his beck and call? The bottle is the answer, of course, but the transition from breast to bottle is something you need to prepare you and your baby.
Returning to work, coupled with decreasing milk supply, is one of the most common reasons moms stop breastfeeding. However, it is entirely possible to hurdle this transition phase and continue breastfeeding — in fact, many moms have done it or continue to do it.
On our Facebook group Smart Parenting Village, one mom who was due to get back to work spoke about her concerns how she will continue nursing her baby once she returns to work. A lot of other moms replied with their experience-based tips.
Here were her three main concerns:
How much breast milk should you leave your baby?
You don't need a freezer full of milk. Before you get back to work, take note of how much your baby consumes per feeding, and check how many time he feeds during the time you'll be gone for work.
Breast pumps can be very efficient in expressing milk, and it's the next best thing to direct breastfeeding. It's important to find one that suits your breasts and your lifestyle. Make sure you follow the guidelines for expressing and storing breast milk (find a guide here).
What can you do if your baby doesn't want to take the bottle?
Long before your maternity leave ends, or as early as eight weeks after birth, try expressing milk and giving it to your baby via the bottle. Let your husband or another caregiver give it to your baby, and as much as possible, do it when you're not in the same room with your baby.
There are many feeding bottles that support breastfeeding now, so try each one if you have to and check which one suits your little one the most. If you've tried everything but your baby still doesn't take a bottle, try cup feeding. It's preferred by the World Health Organization (WHO) than bottle feeding if a mom cannit breastfeed the baby directly. Aside from cup feeding, syringe feeding is also sometimes used for premature babies who can't latch yet.
Should I be worried if my baby consumes less milk when he feeds via the bottle?
Some take the bottle without fuss, while others need to get used to it. Some babies may not like to feed via the bottle as much as he or she would when he takes the breast, and that's okay. It's a transition, much like when you and your baby are trying to get your rhythm during the first few days of nursing.
Most likely, your baby will do most of his feeding when you arrive from work, which is good. Breastfeeding directly as often as you can, even if it's just only at night, can help keep your milk supply up.
This article was updated on May 26, 2019, 10:58 a.m.