It’s been suggested to start the bottle feeding transition (if you are going back to work or want to have some freedom while solely breastfeeding) within 3-5 weeks after birth. This is apparently the best time because you have formed a solid and respectable relationship between boob and baby, but also because your little one is still to small to understand they’re being tricked into drinking from a fake nipple.
A little over a week ago, I realized Harland’s bottle introduction was upon us if we wanted the relationship between the two of them to be a positive one. With that in mind my husband and I decided to start the introduction in our son’s 4th week of life, because that’s when I felt solid with breastfeeding and (honestly) coped enough with the idea of not being the only one who gets to feed my baby boy. I say cope because there were definitely some unwanted feelings that surfaced once I realized the time had come. I don’t know if it was because I thought that Harland would want me less, or that our special moments would be taken by someone else, or that I would no longer be the sole provider for his survival, or a combo of all of the above. For me, those feelings were actually surprising, and the first time I watched my husband feed our son with a bottle I cried. Now, of course the cry was a combination of things: it was my own previously admitted insecurities obviously, but they were mixed with the love and deep connection I saw my husband and son share that they hadn’t engaged in before. I realized in a moment that it must be so hard for him to not be able to share that kind of bonding, the moments I get so often throughout the day and totally take for granted. When I watched how happy my husband was to be able to stare into our son’s eyes while he ate and talk to him and bond with him, I felt a huge rush of love and emotions I’d never felt before, and it was very unexpected.
Those unwanted feelings I talked about are still sometimes there, but I’m understanding there are bigger, greater and more powerful new feelings I get to experience. I love the feeling I get when I watch my two favorite dudes be able to share such a special time together, and it warms my heart every time.
Now, of course breastfeeding is still going to be our son’s primary source of food, but on those mornings when I want to go work out a little longer, or that one night my husband and I want to enjoy a meal together or with friends I know that our child won’t starve or scream because he’s hungry and that feels amazing.
Going to the grocery store used to be a stressful experience for me because the whole time all I could think about was how long I was gone, or if he woke up. It’s totally a shitty double edged sword and that feeling of being wanted and needed is wonderful and fulfilling, but it’s also a stressful full time job, a job that’s actually kind of nice to give to someone else every once in a while.
Relinquishing control and allowing Harland to feed from a bottle every so often has given me a greater appreciation for breastfeeding as well as a better understanding for the emotional connection it provides, not to mention the occasional freedoms I’ll get to enjoy. 🙂