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Breastfeeding, Parenthood

Bottle Review Part I: #Bottlefeedingfail #youarenotalone

16 May , 2014  

#throwback-3months old #bottlefeedingfail (1.5mths) #Rayis5monthsoldnow

Some of you would know that I have been struggling with the issue of trying to bottlefeed Ray, since I so openly lament and share my woes about him not drinking from the bottle. It helps to spread the misery around, cushions the pain a little haha.

Ever since birth, the lucky little mister has been treated to a fresh milk buffet as and when he wanted, for however long he felt like it, straight from the tap. He was the only patron, and immediately got bumped up to VIP status. It’s little wonder then, when the buffet started to cease operations from 8am – 7pm (much like the MRT track replacement hurhur), and the VIP status snatched so abruptly from him, that he kicked up a big fuss at the downgrade in service. Nevermind that he was still served the same fresh spread (milk freshly expressed and delivered in the form of a bottle to him), he hated the way it was presented – through some godawful artificial nipples and bottles.

A milk connoisseur does not settle for anything less. The best wines must be served in riedel glasses and the best milk (to Ray at least) must be served from its truest source.

The guy was 3 months old and clearly preferred his boobies. At that age, he was starting to put all sorts of things in his mouth, his thumb, his fingers, his fist, his FISTS, toys, hankies, you name it, he has tried putting it in. Every and anything, except the bottle. The moment the bottle ventured near his lips, he’d raise hell. Don’t believe me? Watch this

and this

The first vid is of Pips trying to bottlefeed Ray. I try to keep out on the lovely premise that mothers should not bottlefeed their baby because the rejection rate is higher. A more honest reason on why I cop out is because noone likes a wrestling match with a 3mo who only screams and cries like you are his mortal enemy. It is very obvious that there is only one victor, and who that sole victor is. In the vid, he’s just thrashing about, crying till his whole face turned red. He would kick, arch his back and raise his belly up, so that the bottle is not at his lips. Fierce, stubborn, little guy. A warrior.

The second vid is of my MIL bottlefeeding him for the first time and it was so, so bad. Shudder. Again, you can see the little guy crying and screaming and kicking as if we were trying to poison him. At that time, I was still on maternity leave, about to return to work, and was abit surprised that he could react so strongly and so negatively towards bottlefeeding. In my naive little mind, all babies take to the bottle like a fish to water. Well, certainly not my baby though. His cries were so loud and fierce that the neighbours came out in full force to entertain him.

Watch the powerful aunty brigade at work:

Aunties have this magical way of cajoling and calming babies down. At least he didn’t scream that much while he was being distracted.  So there you go, the first lesson for bottlefeeding.

TRY TO DISTRACT THE KID. At least he will not scream the house down. Not a truly successful method though; it’s more like a temporary stop gap solution that will not have him screaming his little head off and you going crazy from the frenzied crying and thrashing body. Distraction doesn’t mean that he will drink from the bottle, it just saves your sanity by 1% more, and every percentage counts. Trust me.

See in this vid below? At least he’s not screaming like the above videos by virtue of being distracted haha.

For a long time though, he was screaming and crying when it came to bottlefeeding time. He was also a baby that doesn’t scream and cry other than bottle time, so it really made my heart ache, and I was extremely desperate.   I was worried about his well-being, concerned that he would not have enough milk, and that all these crying and screaming was bad for his development (how is it different from the cry-it-out approach to sleeping if he was screaming and crying the way he was at every feed?) But I still needed to get him to take the bottle, because mom’s heading back to work and can’t take on the role of being a fulltime cow. I had no choice but to continue trying to bottlefeed him despite the terrible encounters each time. Well not me, someone else, but I guarantee you that I feel the pain just as much.

I began to read widely on forums/articles/websites etc regarding bottlefeeding, read countless different reviews about the different bottles and teats for the breastfed babies, and even read about ways to make your baby take the bottle. One mother mentioned that her son only took the bottle when she stuck her finger in his mouth, and we tried that. It certainly calmed him down from his hysterical crying, but nope, it didn’t help him to take the bottle.

Please don’t think of us as bad parents for sticking our pinkie in his little mouth. We were truly desperate, and unless you’ve seen your little kid crying and screaming his little head off, refusing to drink milk from a bottle at the expense of hunger, you don’t know desperation to the point where you are almost willing to try anything that will remotely help the situation. PLEASE NOTE NOT TO PUT HONEY ON THE TEAT. Honey can cause infant botulism, which is a severe condition. Desperate as we were, we at least managed to not resort to that.

I guess the biggest takeaway from this post is that, after seeing the above videos, if you are a parent whose kid is crying like mine when trying the bottle for the first few times, you will be glad to know that you are NOT ALONE. My LO was like that for weeks. Every friggin single weekday for the 12hours that I was away in the office, he would refuse to drink from the bottle. Over time, he didn’t scream as much, but would still refuse the bottle.

Luckily, he has finally taken to the bottle now, but back then, on a good day, he would take 150ml over 12 hours. At his champion peak of absolute resoluteness, he took 50ml the entire day (and spat up some), and was so hungry and tired that he could not achieve sleep nor was able to satiate his hunger. He’d be so sleepy from crying he’d fall asleep, then wake up 15mins later because he was too hungry. When given the bottle, he’d refuse it, and thus began his vicious spiral deeper down into the abyss. When I came home that evening (I always rushed home to feed him then), he was sucking so vigorously that I could tell the poor boy was starving. If he could speak, he’d probably tell me how lovely I was, an oasis for the parched soul. Halfway through stuffing his face at the boobs, he fell asleep halfway. Yes, he was that tired from not napping well the entire day.

During those dark, dark, bottling hell days, I was so desperate and felt so much heartache at one point that I cried (not alot ok!) when my MIL wanted to continue to bottlefeed him until he took to it, instead of me latching him on when I was back from work. We both wanted to try to solve the issue of bottlefeeding, but came from different standpoints. She believed that the cold turkey treatment would be the best way, and that when he was hungry enough, survival instinct would kick in. On the other hand, I agreed that his survival instinct would kick in, but that he would only take in enough to subsist, and not flourish, so I disagreed with the method. I believed that 12hours of bottle during my office hours were more than enough training for him. His pee was as yellow as concentrated chrysanthemum tea, when it used to be clear/pale yellow. How could my heart not ache for this little boy, and I, not rush to feed him? It was against my mother’s instinct to continue to bottlefeed him even when I reached home.

Those were horrible days indeed. Shudders. Thank god I’ve crossed that bridge, and that after 1.5mths of bottle hell, Ray has finally taken to the bottle! Yay! By success, I mean that he doesn’t scream or cry when drinking the bottle, but still takes less than 300ml during the 12hours that I am away. On average, he takes about 220 – 280ml now during the time I’m away.

Another side effect of the bottling is that Ray ended up reverse cycling, where he would wake up many times at night to latch and make up for the missed feeds during the day. When reverse cycling, do allow your kid to have free and unrestricted access to the boobs so that he doesn’t become dehydrated or have a lack of nutrients. It will be tougher on you, but we moms are super. This is nothing. The real bad thing about reverse cycling though, is that it created a new sleep pattern for Ray. A very bad one.

Prior to 3mths, before the introduction of bottlefeeding, he used to sleep most beautifully, long 6-8hour stretches at times, waking up a maximum of 2 times a night. but ever since the bottling saga began, he started waking multiple times at night. Now, he wakes  countless times a night, not only to drink milk, but would also require you to pat/rock/shush/hold him to sleep each time he awakens. Horrors. He used to sleep for long stretches at night, waking up for a maximum of 2 times, and these days, I laugh miserably at the idea of him ONLY waking up twice a night, mostly because I know it’s not happening. Heck, if he awakens twice within the first two hours of sleeping, I’d consider myself lucky. zzz

Hence, I would like to advise all moms out there to try to bottlefeed your kid as soon as possible once breastfeeding is established, so that you will not run into such a big problem as me, when your child is smarter, more opinionated, and will let you know exactly how he likes his milk. He is so discerning that he could be crying hysterically with the bottle in his face, but the moment you took it away, he’d smile ever so sweetly at you. A tough cookie, this one is. For my next cookie, I’ll prob introduce the bottle for one feeding a day starting from two weeks old.

If you are afraid that your child may take too well to the bottle and reject the breast, do not fear. Just introduce the bottle once or twice in the initial stages on a daily basis, and once both are comfortable, you can tweak the number of times you offer the bottle, depending on which your child prefers. If your child prefers the bottle, reduce the number of bottle sessions and increase the boob feedings and vice versa. I did latch my friend’s kid once, who was exclusively bottlefed for a week, just to see if the bub would take to the boob, and the baby did with ease. But then, I was quite the expert at boob feeding, so an inexperienced mom may struggle alot more with latching the baby. Try bottlefeeding only after you are familiar with breastfeeding, so that you have the confidence to bring the baby back to your boob if he prefers the bottle.

In my next blog post, I will be writing about the many different teats and bottles I tried on Ray, and will give my recommendations on the best bottle for the breastfed baby, as well as the methods to help your baby try to take to the bottle.

Good luck on the bottlefeeding journey! A good bottlefeeding experience will also help you in your breastfeeding journey. All the best and toodles!

Xox
Jas

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