[I am pleased to announce that I am one of Avent’s Virtual Mummy Mentors! This post was written as part of my paid brand ambassadorship with Philips Avent and contains content about items that have been gifted to me for an honest review.]
One of my favourite ways to bond with Baby Vita is by feeding her. There is something blissful about those somnolent middle-of-the-night snuggles, about dozing in bed in the morning with a baby on my breast and a plate of rapidly-cooling toast on my pillow, about watching my children play whilst a little girl looks up at me with her big blue eyes. And it’s the same for my partner, Kirsty, too; when I am in the office she dances that little girl about the kitchen with a warmed bottle tucked beneath her chin, she soothes her to sleep just as I do with softly-spoken words and a finger stroking her head and my milk flowing through a teat. No matter which of us is taking care of her at the time, our daughter falls asleep listening to our heartbeat, safe and warm and fed.
(I should mention at this juncture that we choose for her to have my milk because breastfeeding and expressing came easily to me, because I’m personally appalled at the idea of having to haul myself out of bed in order to make up bottles in the middle of the night and because breastmilk is free and formula milk comes at a cost. Feeding babies is such a personal choice and you have to do what is best for you and your baby. It can be equally bonding and wonderful to feed your baby regardless of where their milk comes from.)
I’ve written previously about my breastfeeding/expressing journey for baby Vita, whom is fed exclusively breastmilk but mostly from the bottle owing to my working schedule. My previous post contains hints and tips for managing a breastfeeding/bottle-feeding relationship from birth with a new baby, as well as my schedule for expressing and how I manage to keep up my supply. In this post, I wanted to document the other side of my breastfeeding and expressing journey with Vita, which is Kirsty’s experience of feeding our little girl. We first introduced Vita to a bottle when she was three days old, the first bottle of milk that I expressed. It was such a small amount, only 2oz or so, but we attached the teat to the bottle that it was expressed into and Kirsty sat cross-legged on the bed to feed her, gazing down in awe at the life that we had created. And Vita drank it, slowly, and passed out into a milk coma, gently snoring, with milk dribbling down her chin. And I remember thinking how beautiful it was, a mother feeding her baby.
These days, Kirsty feeds the baby my milk from a bottle when I am in the office, and at the weekends if I take the ‘big four’ out and leave the baby at home with her mother then Kirsty will feed her then too, although I try to time outings so that she has a big feed before I leave in the hope that she will sleep until I return! If I am home, I feed the baby from the breast – in part because I do genuinely love those feeding snuggles, but also because practically, in order to maintain my supply, if the baby has a bottle from our stash then I need to express the equivalent of what she would eat anyway. A few weekends ago I had my first night away from the baby, due to a last-minute work situation, and it transpires that the baby will happily feed from Kirsty but is a little confused as to how to fall back to sleep at night when there isn’t a nipple in her mouth… whoops! Kirsty was terrifically forgiving about the resultant 3am start to the day, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the next time I have to spend a night away for any reason I can take the baby with me!
Before Vita was born, we worried that she would have a preference between bottle and breast, as all of our previous children have had (the boys and Embla toward bottle and Olympia toward breast). Either would have been difficult for us, both logistically – I could not, for example, choose not to go to work if she refused a bottle – and emotionally – I desperately wanted a peaceful and healing breastfeeding relationship, Kirsty desperately wanted to be able to bond with her child and to feed and soothe her easily during the day. This was another driving factor around introducing Vita to the bottle so early, and she had another bottle when she was about two weeks old to check that she would still take them before I returned to work. Philips Avent advised that we use breastfeeding-friendly bottles in order to reduce the risk of ‘nipple confusion’ and refusal of either breast or bottle. They sent us some of their own to try, which feature an a wide breast-shape and innovative petal-shaped teat that allows for softness without the frustration of the rubber collapsing in on itself. Baby Vita likes them very much and although she still has a slight preference toward the breast, especially at night, she is very happy to take a bottle too.
It is so wonderful to be able to share with my partner the joy of feeding our baby, and reassuring to know that wherever I am in the world, our most vulnerable family member is comfortable and happy and able to be fed!
What was your feeding journey like?