“I combined breastfeeding with formula bottles & increased my milk supply”

Reading time: 5 min

More than three years ago, just after my baby was born, I happily signed the consent form in the hospital, giving the nurses permission to feed my baby a bottle of formula. It is something I did guilt-free with my son in that same hospital 10 years ago and, both times, I got a much-needed and appreciated six-hour sleep after my C-sections, and my baby got used to the bottle teat. For the next few weeks, I’d breastfeed and express during the day and, at night, she would get bottles of Novalac formula, as prescribed by my paed.

I imagine this mixed method of feeding might have made any lactation specialist baulk, and I’m sure there are pro-breastfeeding groups out there that would have (and might still) given me a stern talking to. I suspect they would caution me about my daughter developing nipple confusion, and that because of becoming accustomed to the bottle teat, she’d be unable to readjust to my nipples.

Then there could be criticism that my baby wasn’t exclusively breastfed and that this would affect my milk supply – and jeopardise my little one’s health and well-being. However, I trusted in myself and in my way. I had done a similar thing with my son years back and he turned out okay. Well, more than okay. He’s thankfully healthy and happy, and has a fondness for cricket, Fortnite and ice cream – and loves eating fruit and veggies (no bribery or manipulation needed!)

For three nights in hospital, while I slept, my baby was fed formula, and I would breastfeed her during the day. The sleep helped me recover swiftly, so by the time we came home with a newborn, I was feeling fairly strong and ready for those first few hectic weeks of sleep deprivation and adjustment. I have always said that I’m a decent mom when I’m taken care of, and the formula-breastfeeding combination that we continued with for a few weeks after my daughter’s birth helped me to function optimally. I went back to some work projects fairly soon after her birth, and it was useful to be hands-free at times and to have my husband do some of the feeds.

My milk supply was quite low in the early weeks, and I didn’t feel my baby was enough of an eater to allow me to increase my milk supply to the levels I wanted. I wanted to be able to feed her sufficiently, but I also felt that expressing regularly would do the trick too. I managed to express milk more frequently than what I imagined my baby would be feeding. At first, I used a double electric breast pump and used to watch with confusion and frustration as the drops of milk slowly trickled out.

So, I decided to try a single manual pump, and this seemed to be the ticket to an ample supply of milk – even if it meant my hand cramped up at times with all the manual expressing! My baby was putting on weight nicely, and her paediatrician was happy with her development and health.

Despite the ongoing messaging that “breast is best”, I never once thought that the formula was putting her well-being at risk or threatening my milk supply in any way. In fact, it was in large part due to the formula-feeding that I was able to work on my supply, increase it, and perhaps extend the breastfeeding journey, and stock up my freezer to such an extent that there wasn’t much room for anything else, aside from ice cream and frozen veggies.

I expressed often, and I basically trained my boobs to deliver more than the formula that my baby was drinking. After about six weeks of mixed feeding, I had been able to stash enough milk in the freezer and fridge to drop the formula, and stick to breast milk and breastfeeding only. My baby wasn’t confused by any nipple – she was as happy to take from the boob as she was from her bottle.

“I have always said that I’m a decent mom when I’m taken care of, and the formula-breastfeeding combination that we continued with for a few weeks after my daughter’s birth helped me to function optimally.”

On our paediatrician’s advice, we started weaning at around four months, and I continued to breastfed. We kept a tin of formula “just in case”, but it wasn’t needed – between the solids, the expressed milk and the boob, my baby was covered.

I’m so glad I got the freedom to choose how to feed my kids, and that I trusted the path of “fed is best”. I’m happy, too, that my breastfeeding journey was a happy and smooth one, and that we did it on our own terms – not based on what might have made sense to others, or been prescribed by many. I have no regrets in having looked after myself first, and therefore being in a decent position to parent, feed and nurture.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and is based on personal experience and personal brand preference of the content author. BabyYumYum reserves the right to its opinions and fully supports the notion of promotion that breast is best in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) infant feeding guidelines. Breast milk is the best food for infants. Good maternal nutrition is essential to prepare and maintain breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not applied, an infant formula may be used according to the advice of health professionals. Preparation and storage of any infant formula should be performed as directed on the tin in order not to pose any health hazards.