What is mixed feeding?
Can I supplement with formula if breastmilk is not enough for baby?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had read up a lot about breastfeeding and formula feeding and how breastfeeding was the best thing a mother could give to her baby. I had resolved to breastfeed exclusively, but I had also read and heard about how sometimes you may have to supplement due to diverse reasons.
When my daughter was close to 5 months, it was time to rejoin my work and I was still contemplating whether to continue with my job or quit and be a full time mother. At that time, I supplemented breastfeeding with formula just to get my baby used to formula and the bottle, so that she does not have any problem once I go back to work if and have to stay away from her and breastmilk is not available for her.
I had spoken to my baby’s doctor about this and he assured that mixed feeding or combining breastfeeding and formula feeding will not hurt either baby or my supply as long as I was supplementing only a little. I used to give her one feed of formula during the day of about 4 oz.
In the longer term, I decided to stay at home and then went back to breastfeeding. But I know that that mixed feeding or combining breastfeeding and formula feeding does not hurt a baby.
Read more about basics for successful breastfeeding
In what situations, mixed feeding may be necessary:
- In case, mother is not able to produce enough milk due to medical reasons like diabetes or hypothyroid or other reasons despite trying all options and baby is not growing as expected.
- Baby is not able to extract enough milk from breast due to any reason.
- Mother has to go back to work and is not able to express enough breastmilk to meet baby’s needs completely. You do not want baby to be hungry if you are breastmilk is not available at any time.
- If you are a mother of multiples, you may find that you might need to supplement a little despite everything going well.
How to have a successful mixed feeding journey:
Combining breastfeeding and formula feeding can sometimes jeopardise breastmilk supply but it may not if you follow these points:
- Breastfeed as often as you can. It not only gives your baby your precious breastmilk but also the much needed closeness and cuddle time which important for baby as well as mother.
- If you are supplementing by choice and want to continue breastfeeding as long as possible, ensure you breastfeed exclusively for atleast first few weeks to establish good breastmilk production.
- Use breast pump to pump breastmilk as often as you can.This will help in stimulating your breast and maintaining breastmilk supply. I know a few ladies who have managed to breastfeed their babies successfully till over a year by pumping regularly.
- One more pitfall of giving a bottle early is that baby may start preferring the bottle to breast. It is easier to get milk from bottle than breasts. Baby needs to work to get milk from breasts while bottle just provide a steady supply without doing much. This may eventually affect your breastmilk supply.
- Talk to your doctor and see if any supplements may help in your situations.
Most doctors will tell you that you should feel good about any amount of breast feeding that you can do. You are doing your best and you baby will always benefit from whatever amount of breastfeeding you are able to do.