When we prepare to have a child we hope to experience a lot of things in the first stages of the postpartum period including breastfeeding or chestfeeding. It is really hard when you don’t really know what to expect until the moment comes when it is time to try to feed and it doesn’t really work out in your favor. So what do you do? how do you make the transition to formula or perhaps even mix your breastmilk with the formula?
Supplementing basically means you are choosing an alternative to mix with milk. It does NOT mean you have given up. It does NOT mean you are lazy, incapable or any less of a parent by choosing to use an alternative to help with your feeds. The only reason I SAY THAT is because I have been there, I have doubted myself. DO NOT doubt yourself. WE KNOW what is best for our child. That is what is important.
The reasonings for supplementing could include:
Your milk supply is low and you cannot keep up with feeds, you are heading back to work or school and you are unable to keep up with a specific schedule OR simply you want to WORK on weaning but for right now you want to work with both options until you are ready. OR you are using donor milk and it isn’t quite enough right now so you need to work with a few options. Whatever your reasonings are, you know what is best and you know what you should do for your child that best provides food. If you are giving your child breastmilk and you feel that they are not getting enough chat with their ped and bring it up, see if they can help you figure out HOW much to mix, how often and for how long. ALWAYS check with a dr before trying a new feed schedule and option especially when it comes to mixing.
How does supplementing with formula and breastmilk work? what is the process:
The first thing you want to do is find a formula that settles well with your baby. You don’t want to just dive into something and not know how your baby might react. It is the same with introducing foods, you want to watch and make sure baby can digest and handle that new food item before moving on or continuing. You also have to remember sometimes it takes a days for a body to adjust to new foods especially for a baby.
1. Continue to nurse if possible but also feed with formula, OR mix the two options if you simply do not or cannot feed from your breast. If you are chestfeeding and using a tube or syringe or a cup do the same thing, small feeds and small transitions as well as switching sides and skin to skin contact to make the experience for the baby comfortable. You can feed baby the breast [or alternative] of milk then wait a bit after burping before introducing a bottle of formula.
2. If you are wanting to continue to breastfeeding but also work on the supplementing as well you should keep in mind that sometimes that can cause a swollen chest and potentially swollen ducts. You want to keep your chest comfortable in between feeds especially if you are starting to space them out due to introducing a bottle. Same with pumping, if you are slowing down your pumping either keep with the pumping and storing or hand express if you need.
3. If you are trying to wean off of the breast, cup, syringe, etc keep in mind that if you are producing milk that you do not want to always go cold turkey. Space your nursing/expression/pumping sessions out and then gradually decrease from there so the dry up is a tad easier as your milk begins to dry. You can do a cold turkey BUT that can be quite painful. See what works for you. You can always mix formula and breastmilk but again you will want to chat with your baby’s doctor to see about the best approach and always start small with a formula to see how baby reacts.
Will there be any changes with my baby once I start supplementing?
Baby might experience gassiness, fussinses, they might prefer one to the other. It is important to keep a schedule [OR TRY AT LEAST] that way baby won’t get confused and will quickly pick up on the changes. Baby’s poop might change and harden. Breastmilk is made up of a ton of water making it somewhat easier for baby to poop when need and when you mix that up with a formula it makes it harder sometimes for them to go. Formula does NOT have the same nutrients as breast milk but that does NOT mean it isn’t a good option if you need it!
Do what is best for you and your child. Always consult with a doctor if you have any questions or concerns and never be afraid to stand up to what you feel is right for you and your family!