Once breastfeeding has been established, around four to six weeks, it’s fine for your partner or another caregiver to give the baby a bottle of expressed breast milk. “Choose a nipple labelled ‘very slow flow,’” advises Sarah Tyack, a registered nurse and IBCLC in Seattle, Washington, who works with nursing moms through her company Babe N’ You. This helps you mimic the breast as much as you can, she says, so your baby doesn’t get used to chugging an easy-flow bottle and then not want to work a bit more when it’s time for breastfeeding.
Day care providers may not be used to babies who drink breast milk. “Feeding too much at day care is the biggest ‘booby trap,’” says Tyack. “Then the baby isn’t that hungry at the end of the day and doesn’t nurse much, so mom’s milk supply goes down and it gets into a cycle. Also, a baby may want to suck but there are other ways to soothe a baby other than a bottle—using a pacifier, for example.” She recommends that the caregiver provide the last bottle two hours or more before pickup, and then you can nurse when you arrive at the day care or in your own home. When choosing a caregiver, Wright suggests asking questions like, “Will you refrigerate and reuse any leftover breast milk?” and “Do you require all parents to clearly label milk containers to avoid mix-ups?”
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