Pen Pal: Mama in the Middle
Infant feeding can often feel like it's one way or the high way. But Kelly from Mom's Next Adventure cracked combination feeding. From feeling like a mama stuck in the middle, she found her happy medium. At Frank we love to see all methods of infant feeding supported and celebrated so that no one feels alone.
I didn’t plan to incorporate formula into feeding my son. I knew about the benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mom, I’d read the stories. I was ready to struggle with sore nipples, biting, nipple confusion and tongue tie. Combination feeding was not even on my radar, but I soon learned how to make it work for us.
One month in and my supply didn’t seem quite right in the evenings. Even knowing this was normal it was still a difficult time. With the sleep deprivation, the crying and the heat, I cracked and made a bottle. Being unable to calm my baby was scary but that bottle settled him right down! However, the cycle had started; missed nursing sessions, extra bottles at Nana’s and eventually my supply dropped off.
I know now I could have tried to work my way back to exclusively breastfeeding. But at the time I felt like I had no choice but to continue with a bottle of formula a day. My maternity leave was ending, I was headed back to work and had barely any milk frozen. Around six months, one bottle became two because I could no longer produce enough milk at work. I was finally okay with the formula bottles and had stopped trying so desperately to increase my supply. I went with what worked for us. Combination feeding got us to 12 months and counting!
I found little information online about combination feeding. I usually put my mind at ease reading the experience of other moms’ online. But it seemed like most moms could exclusively breastfeed or made the switch to 100% formula; there was nothing in-between. I understand for some moms you try to do both and your body doesn’t cooperate. But I am here to say it can be done!
I have learned that it’s OKAY to try combination feeding. Here are my tips on how combination feed worked for us:
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Breastfeed anytime it is convenient. Often on the weekends, I had the time to sit and breastfeed when normally my son would have received a bottle. We got to spend extra time bonding and I think it helped my supply limp along!
3. Pump when you’re away from your baby. Keeping up with pumping sessions allowed me to continue breastfeeding when I was with my baby, and provide some bottles for him when I was away.
4. Don’t stress over each bottle of formula. Stress affected my supply and when I was relaxed about it, breastfeeding also seemed to go better.
5. Small goals are the key to success! Six months can seem unachievable if you are struggling at six weeks but setting small goals along the way helped me to keep going. Each time I reached a new goal it gave me the stamina to continue.
6. Don’t listen to someone else’s rules for breastfeeding; make it happen on your own terms. At 8 months, I realised I was only able to nurse once a day, first thing in the morning. That wasn’t enough for me and I knew breastfeeding only once a day would mean my nursing days would be numbered. So, I cut out the nighttime formula bottle and began nursing before bed. WHY had I not done this sooner? Because I had read that nursing to sleep was a bad habit. Who cares? It was one of the times a day I got to nurse and bond with my baby; so I was going to do it!
Thank you Kelly for sharing your story. This post was originally published over on Mom's Next Adventure. To find out more about Kelly follow her on Facebook or Instagram. If you would like to share your own story then please get in touch via Your Voice.