Combining Breast and Bottle Feeding
Some mums find that neither breast nor bottle completely meets their needs and instead use a combination of both. However, choosing to combine breast and bottle is not a decision that should be taken lightly and is a decision which is difficult to reverse once you’ve started bottlefeeding as your body will learn to produce less milk. This article talks more about about how your baby might not always take to a bottle straight away, and how your body may take a while to get used to the new routine.
There are a few golden rules to follow if you’re thinking of combination feeding; taking things very slowly, waiting until breastfeeding is firmly established and thinking carefully about which feeds you’d like to substitute with a bottle are all important. Read on to find out how you can combine but continue to produce enough breastmilk for those times when you want to breastfeed.
Mums who choose combination feeding say it offers the best of both worlds; their baby still gets the goodness of breastmilk, yet it gives them more freedom to feed on the move or top up after breastfeeding. It can also allow your partner to be more involved in feeding, especially with night feeds.
However, the less your baby breastfeeds, the less breastmilk your body will produce and it can be difficult to switch back to breastfeeding once you’ve introduced bottlefeeds. Combination feeding is a big decision and one that should not be taken without consulting your doctor.
When to start combining
Combining feeds should not be considered until breastfeeding is well established – as a guide, this is usually around six to eight weeks. If formula feeding from a bottle is introduced before you’ve established breastfeeding, your baby may develop a preference for bottlefeeding and give up on breastfeeding altogether. Waiting means your baby is less likely to be confused and your body will have time to learn how much milk to produce and how often your baby needs to feed.
Preparing to combine feeds
Your body will take up to 7 days to adjust to producing less milk. Slowly reducing feeds by one less feed a week will help to prevent your breasts from becoming engorged or leaking.
Your body will soon learn to stop producing breastmilk at the time you choose to drop a feed from the breast and feed from the bottle instead. For example, if this is at night, you’ll simply stop producing milk for this feed. Once you’ve made the step it can be difficult to switch back.
Think carefully about which feeds you’d like from the breast and which from the bottle. Sticking to a regular routine will get your breasts used to producing the right supplies of milk at the right time. Just remember to go slowly and give your body time to adjust.
Getting your baby used to bottles
Not all breastfed babies switch to bottles easily in the beginning. If your baby is not taking to the bottle, try:
- Warming your baby’s milk before feeding
- Letting someone else feed your baby (leave the room so your baby can’t see you or smell your breast milk)
- Try holding them in a different position, such as propped up against your front and facing away from you
- Experiment using different types of teat
It can take time to work out a combining routine that both you and your baby are comfortable with, so try to be patient. If you’d like some advice on combination feeding speak to your doctor, or give our Careline team a call on 800 6458 6262 (UAE)/ +971 4 420 9489 (Other Countries) between the hours of 9am and 6pm Saturday to Thursday.