Introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby

During the first several weeks of your child's life, it's best to nurse exclusively to help you and your baby learn how to breast-feed and to be sure your milk supply is being established. Once your milk supply is established and you feel confident that you and your baby are doing well with breastfeeding, you may give your baby an occasional bottle of breast milk. This allows others, such as your partner or a grandparent, an opportunity to feed the baby. If your baby receives a bottle of milk, you may want to pump your breasts for your comfort and to maintain your milk supply.

Breast-feeding twins and triplets

A mother can certainly breast-feed more than one baby.

If you have twins, you can breast-feed one baby at a time. Or you can nurse them simultaneously, once breast-feeding is established. To accomplish this feat, you can position both babies in the football (clutch) hold. Or you can cradle them both in front of you with their bodies crossing each other. Use pillows to support the babies' heads and your arms.

With triplets, it's possible to breast-feed. One option is to supplement feedings with expressed milk or formula in a bottle. Nurse two babies at the same time and give a bottle to the third. At the next feeding, use the bottle for a different baby. The goal is to have all three babies have a chance to feed at the breast.

If you're the parent of multiples, you may want to discuss a breast-feeding plan with your health care provider or a lactation consultant before you leave the hospital. Ask them to suggest a mother who has successfully breast-fed her twins or triplets — it's nice to have a source of supportive, practical advice.

The feel of a bottle nipple in a baby's mouth is different from that of the breast. The way a baby sucks from a bottle nipple also is different. It may take practice for your baby to be comfortable with a bottle nipple. A baby may initially be reluctant to take a bottle from mom because he or she associates mother's voice and scent with breast-feeding.

When you give your baby a supplementary bottle, follow your baby's cues as to the amount to give. There's no set amount that's right. Your baby may be satisfied at a few ounces.

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