It is no doubt that breast milk is best for babies. However, sometimes there are certain factors that make it difficult for you to breastfeed your baby. For instance, your baby may find it hard to latch on and suckle from your breast, or your body may produce less supply of breast milk, or you may have to return to work. Whatever the reason is, in these instances, it is perfectly safe to opt for mixed feeding, also known as “supplementation.”
Reasons to start supplementing with formula:
When supplementing is a medical need - Babies born with jaundice need to remain hydrated in order to flush out the jaundice from their body. Immediately after childbirth, it can take a few days for your milk supply to come in. At this time, it could be recommended that you supplement with formula until you are able to support your baby on breast milk alone. Your pediatrician may also ask you to opt for mixed feeding if your baby’s weight is too low.
Low supply - You may have health concerns like a chronic illness or a recent breast surgery that may interfere with breastfeeding. Low supply can also happen if you have thyroid problems or have a low weight.
Other reasons - Sometimes, you could be on certain medications that can prevent you from breastfeeding your baby. In this case, you can opt for formula feeding while “pumping and dumping” to keep your supply going. Another reason could be when you have twins or multiple babies; it can make it hard for you to keep up with exclusive breastfeeding. Or maybe sometimes exclusive breastfeeding or pumping may be too much for you to take on.
What to consider when supplementing:
When supplementing with formula, it can be hard to decide where to begin or how much formula you should feed your baby. Consulting your pediatrician, family doctor, or speaking to a lactation consultant can definitely help with all of these concerns. You can discuss how much formula to feed your baby, ways in which you can boost your milk supply, how many times a day to give formula, and for how long.
Once you begin mixed feeding, you might notice some changes in the color and consistency of your baby’s poo, and you may also notice that your baby develops a preference for the bottle. Your breasts may start to get overfull as a result of cutting down on breastfeeding. At this point, if you want to increase milk supply and cut back on formula, you may consider pumping more often. When cutting back on formula and increasing breastfeeding once again, you should keep in mind how old your baby is, how often you need to pump to increase supply, and how often you need to breastfeed.
Which formula is the best?
There are plenty of options that you can choose from today, and this can leave you quite confused. Some infant formulas are designed in such a way that it is very similar to breast milk. They contain prebiotics, which helps keep your baby’s stool soft, and lutein, which is naturally present in breast milk.
All infant formula in the U.S today is iron-fortified and milk-based, which is what most parents opt for. You can also opt for an organic formula that does not have antibiotics, synthetic pesticides, or hormones and is free from genetic modification. But these are relatively more expensive than the other ones.
You may opt for mixed feeding or eventually choose to increase breast milk supply and exclusively breastfeed, or eventually choose formula altogether. Regardless of what you choose, always remember that you are doing the best job as a mom for your little one.