When I was pregnant with my twins, I decided that I would dedicate myself to taking care of them no matter what. I knew the many health and developmental benefits of breast milk, so I did everything I could to ensure my success. I contacted mothers of multiples, found a great lactation consultant, and even bought a special pillow that would help me feed both children at the same time. Then Thomas and Elizabeth were born… … Reality intervened. Because they each had difficulties and I didn’t have enough breast milk to feed them both, my babies ended up getting a mixture of breast milk and formula.
For the first few weeks, I was disappointed in myself. But then I learned that many pediatricians and nursing professionals support the practice of mixed feeding. Freda Rosenfeld, a registered lactation consultant in Brooklyn, N.Y., says, “Whatever you do, you should feel good about it, because every little bit makes a difference to your baby.” . Formula milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs, and whether it’s in the first few weeks or a few months later, it doesn’t necessarily mean your breastfeeding period will soon be over. Mixed feeding makes particular sense in these three situations.
When you are not producing enough milk
In general, the more you breastfeed, the more milk you will produce. However, if you are having relative difficulty starting to breastfeed —- whether it is because you and your baby have been separated in the hospital for longer than usual, or your baby is not suckling well, or for another reason —- establishing an adequate milk supply can be a huge challenge. Even if all goes well, some women still cannot meet the needs of their children. This is most common among mothers with multiples, mothers who have had breast reduction surgery, and mothers who have had a late delivery. Rosenfeld says, “In my experience, the older a woman is when she has a baby, the more likely she is to have problems with her milk supply.” . Experts aren’t sure why, although they suspect it may be because a woman’s body becomes less efficient at producing breast milk as time goes on.
If your baby repeatedly feels hungry after you breastfeed, then your milk supply may be low. Sheela Geraghty, M.D., medical director of the Cincinnati Children’s Breastfeeding Medical Center, suggests talking to your pediatrician about weighing your baby before and after feedings to see how much milk he’s drinking. She may suggest that you nurse your child in addition to breastfeeding so that you can increase your breast milk supply, and that you can add some extra milk at the end of that meal or give your child some formula for a short time.
Helpful hint: Breastfeeding stimulates your milk production more effectively than expressing, so even if it is a struggle, it is important to keep it up. While some women with sore nipples may decide to only pump for a period of time, this strategy may lead to a further reduction in nipple supply.
If you need to supplement your infant’s diet with pumped breast milk and formula, they can be mixed in the same bottle safely. dr. Geraghty recommends that you prepare several small bottles (about 2 ounces each) in case your child can’t drink them all. Once the baby sucks on a bottle, the remaining contents should be discarded. When you start bottle feeding, start with the smallest nipple, since the slow-flowing nipple is closest to your own body. Many mothers of twins find it helpful to feed only one baby at a time and bottle feed the other baby so that each child can take turns feeding the other baby.
When you can’t suckle
It’s no surprise that when moms return to work, they often decide to wean. Milking in the office can be stressful (not to mention logistically challenging), and even if you build a refrigerator full of milk during maternity leave, the stockpile can quickly dwindle. However, there is another option: let your baby drink formula during the day, but continue to nurse before work and when you get home. This will allow your baby to still benefit from breastfeeding and you will both enjoy quiet, intimate time together. Within a week or two, when your baby needs it, your body will adjust to producing milk —- peaking in the morning and evening and decreasing during the day.
Helpful hint: A few weeks before the end of your maternity leave, start pumping once or twice a day and give your baby a bottle of milk instead of breastfeeding. This will help your midday supply start to decrease so you can avoid becoming engorged at work. Martha Snyder, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., says, “If you’re sore at work, gently express a little milk by hand or hand pump in the women’s restroom so you can reduce the pressure.” . When you’re not working, try breastfeeding your baby to keep you replenished.
When you need extra sleep
Many new mothers adapt well to the frequent sleep interruptions that are almost inevitable when nursing a baby. But for some women, having at least one long night’s sleep can mean the difference between being happy and normal and feeling uncomfortable and overwhelmed. Breastfeeding is a lot of work, and we find that many women are depressed as they deal with it,” says Dr. Snyder. . If you know that getting enough sleep is important for your mental health, try having your spouse feed your baby a bottle of formula with dinner. This will provide the rest you need while giving him a chance to bond with your baby. An added bonus: Your child may sleep a little longer than usual because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk and stays in her stomach longer.
Helpful hint: Let your partner take over the evening feeding (usually around 11pm) so that you can go to bed at, say, 9pm and enjoy a period of uninterrupted sleep until midnight without having to wake him up. Or, if you have a late surgery, have him give your baby a bottle at 3 a.m. so you can rest from 11:30 p.m. until early morning. You may be full and uncomfortable the first few times you wake up, but your body will quickly adjust to the reduced need