Breastfeeding and Supplementing with Formula – Tips and Tricks

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Medical professionals strongly recommend that you breastfeed your baby during the first six months, but sometimes that isn’t possible. You might not produce enough milk or there could be other issues.

Regardless of the issue, your baby has to eat, and the good news is that it is perfectly ok to supplement your breast milk with formula. 

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The decision to mix the two can raise some eyebrows among your family and friends, but it shouldn’t. Up next we’re going to tell you all about supplementing with formula, and give you some tips and tricks to help you out. 

Breastfeeding and Supplementing with Formula - Tips and Tricks
Image Source: Raising Children Network

Reasons for Breastfeeding With Formula Supplement

Medical Issues

According to medical professionals, when an infant does not gain sufficient weight or does not feed well on the breast, adding formula to your routine may be best. 

Sometimes, while you wait for your milk supply to come in, newborns may have jaundice and need extra hydration.

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Health Conditions and Low Breast Milk Supply

Breastfeeding may be difficult for people with chronic diseases or those who have recently undergone breast surgery. 

Mothers with thyroid conditions might not produce enough milk. And low milk supply is a common problem that can happen to anyone. 

Circumstances

Pumping at work may be too difficult or stressful, or once you return to work, you may notice a decrease in your breast milk supply. With situations like this, you may have to supplement your baby’s diet with a formula. 

You Have Multiples

Breastfeeding twins or triplets can be a challenge. Apart from building and maintaining a sufficiently large supply of breast milk, you’ll be breastfeeding very often. 

You might need a break both mentally and physically during the day and formula feedings can help you with that.

Personal Choice

It can always be a personal preference to breastfeed some of the time and give the remainder of the time to your baby formula. 

Your needs matter. It may be a perfectly valid option if supplementation benefits your day to day life and mental health.

Introducing Supplementation 

If you are moving to supplementation for reasons other than a medical condition, experts recommend breastfeeding for at least one month before starting your formula. 

This will allow you enough time to build up a healthy supply of breast milk and make sure your baby breastfeeds well.

If you’ve been exclusively breastfeeding, supplementing will be a change. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make this transition more comfortable for you and your baby.

Start With Less

Your body makes breast milk every day based on the supply and demand concept. When you start to supplement formula, it can influence how much breast milk you make. 

If you plan to add one or two bottles a week, your breast milk supply shouldn’t be affected. 

Hand Expressing or Pumping

Both hand expressing and pumping can help maintain breast milk supply and avoid some of the common breastfeeding issues that may emerge when you skip nursing to bottle feed. 

The discharging of your breast milk will help relieve the fullness that can be caused by breast engorgement. 

Plus, pumped breast milk can be stored for later use. Breast milk can remain in the freezer for up to one year.

Problems You May Encounter 

Your Child Refuses to Take the Bottle

Some babies have a hard time getting used to bottle feeding for several reasons like babies don’t like silicone nipples. They also may not like the formula or simply just want milk from their mom. 

If your partner or another caregiver provides the bottle in the beginning, the transition might go more smoothly.  

Waiting Between Feedings

Since breast milk can be digested more readily by your baby than infant formula, the latter allows them to feel fuller longer. After formula feedings, they may not seem as hungry as quickly as they do after breastfeeding.

The Baby Refuses the Breasts

After some time, refusing the bottle is generally no longer a problem. However, after your child gets used to the formula and drinks from a bottle, you may have the opposite issue: they may no longer want to nurse. 

It takes more work to drink from the breast, and many babies end up finding formula more satisfying.

Changes in Bowel Movements

Adding formula to your baby’s diet may change your baby’s poop’s pattern, color, and consistency (e.g., it may be firmer, darker in color, and have a more pungent odor than before). Once you start giving them formula, your baby may also poop less often.

Breastfeeding and Supplementing with Formula - Tips and Tricks
Image Source: BabyCenter

Conclusion

Whether you decide to breastfeed or give your baby formula or mix the two, the decision should entirely depend on your health and lifestyle, and not on what other people believe to be norms.

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