If you plan to be away from your baby, you may want to try having your partner, friend, or family member give him a very small amount of breastmilk in a bottle when he is 3 to 4 weeks old. This will help your baby get used to a bottle if you plan to return to work or school.
In some cases, you may have to start using a bottle for breastmilk before your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old, but be careful. If you miss a feeding at your breast it can lower your milk supply. To keep up your supply, hand express or pump your milk at the same time you would have normally breastfed your baby. The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk you will make. You can store the milk you pump.
If your partner or family member wants to give your newborn a bottle in the early weeks of breastfeeding, remind them that there will be time later when the baby is ready. There are many other ways they can help you until then. Visit our Teamwork section for ideas on how others can help.
What if I go back to work before 4 weeks?
You might think about working with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to get some advice about how to do this successfully. Call your WIC office to connect you to someone. If you know you'll need to return to work before your baby is 4 weeks old, start pumping once or twice a day after breastfeeding your baby. Store that milk in the freezer. Start doing this after about the first week at home. This will make sure your baby still gets your breastmilk even when you are away. You may want to start having your baby practice with a bottle before returning to work, too.