New mothers have the option to breastfeed directly or pump breast milk and feed baby with a bottle. If mom will be returning to work, breast pumping and bottle feeding is the only option as she will be away from baby for extended times each day. There are some important basics to remember when pumping breast milk to bottle feed that could make the process work better for mom, baby and caregiver.
Pumping Breast Milk At Normal Feeding Times
Many new mothers have no idea that breast milk is different in the morning than the evening. Morning breastmilk is designed to wake up baby while breast milk produced at night helps baby fall asleep. When pumping breastmilk, it is important to label the milk with the date and time the milk was pumped. Only feed baby breastmilk pumped at a comparable time each day. For instance, morning breastmilk should be used in the morning, afternoon breastmilk in the afternoon and evening breastmilk in the evening.
Pumping Enough Breastmilk to Feed Baby
A breast pump is designed to extract milk from the breast, but it does not do half as good a job as baby. Your body naturally responds to the sound and feel of your baby so breastmilk flows more naturally and freely. Start pumping breastmilk a few weeks before you plan on bottle feeding. This gives you enough time to collect the breastmilk baby will need for multiple feedings. Breastmilk can be safely frozen for up to four months when stored in the back of your freezer.
Thawing Breastmilk for Baby
Breastmilk can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight or in a bottle warmer. You can also soak the frozen breastmilk container in warm water until thawed. Once thawed, breastmilk should be used within 24 hours. After feeding, throw away any leftover breastmilk. Do not refreeze breastmilk for later use.
Switching Baby from Breast to Bottle
Some babies switch from breast to bottle and back to breast without trouble. Other babies need time to get used to the bottle nipple before feeding effectively. If you plan on using breastmilk for bottle feeding, start introducing the bottle slowly. It could take a few weeks for baby to adapt to bottle feeding. Never attempt to switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding the day you return to work. Give baby some time to acclimate.