Monday, August 22, 2011

The Relief Bottle

When my son was born, I was lucky that my husband was able to take a few weeks off to be with us. Because he is also a teacher, after his leave was up it was winter break, so he was home for an additional two weeks. In that time, my son and I were working out our breastfeeding difficulties and finally settling into some semblance of a routine. I was getting used to my new reality, which of course involved getting up several times a night to breastfeed. My son slept in his bassinet at first, so it was only a matter of reaching over and picking him up but he would scream bloody murder when I went to change his diaper and I'd have to nurse him back down to sleep again. Shortly after he made his way into our bed and at that point I barely had to do anything but unhook my bra. He seemed to seek out and find my nipple on his own and I eventually was able to sleep through most of his feedings.

But after the new year when my husband was back at work, I did start to feel resentful at times that as I sat up breastfeeding or carried the baby to his room for a diaper change, my husband was snoring away, totally oblivious. I just wanted a stretch of uninterrupted sleep and it seemed really unfair that I had to take 100% responsibility for all of the feedings. I had read about moms pumping a bottle so that their partners could share in the feeding duties and it seemed like a great idea. I had a pump, I'd just put a 4 oz bottle of breastmilk on ice in our bedroom and when the baby woke up, I'd happily hand him off to Daddy and roll over and go back to sleep for another three hours. Score!

Except....not so much. I had to practically kick my husband awake and I couldn't fall back to sleep so I was up for the entire feeding anyway. Then it took quite a bit of jiggling/walking to get Miles back to sleep after, and I was awake through all of that too. In the morning I was engorged. After a couple more nights of this, I had a plugged milk duct and I was through. The relief bottle was more of a hindrance than a help.

I'm always surprised when moms say this arrangement worked for them. Obviously if it works for you, then yay and keep at it. But this idea that pumping a bottle so dad can take over a nightfeed never seems to come with the caveat that it can lead to other problems. And the advice to pump a bottle so dad can share in the feedings never seems to come with any advice on how to do this while still managing your milk supply.

So what say you? Yay or nay on the relief bottle?
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