As a Breastfeeding Group Leader I get asked this type of question all the time, it usually goes something like this:
Mom with question: I will be starting formula for my son.
(After discussions about increasing milk supply etc., see below.*)
Miss Elizabeth (Me): Ok, when will you be starting the formula?
Mom: I’m not sure. I am still nursing, pumping and giving him the milk in a bottle when I am at work. My last child hated formula when I switched her over to it from nursing. I don’t want that same thing to happen this time. My milk supply is not keeping up. Also, will I just pump and dump my milk once he starts formula? I don’t want to get engorged and have mastitis.
Miss Elizabeth: No need to dump your breast milk, that is liquid gold! Here is a plan that works for many moms and may work well for you as well.
I then proceed to discuss the PLAN.
- Lets say the baby is drinking a 6 oz. bottle each feeding during the time you are away at work.
- Instead of putting 6 oz. of breast milk into the bottle, you will replace 2 oz. of breast milk with 2 oz. of formula and the rest breast milk. So in that bottle would be 2 oz. of formula mixed with 4 oz. of breast milk.
- Over time you would increase the ratio of formula to breast milk depending on how the baby is tolerating the transition.
- Maybe after a week when you mix that 6 oz. bottle you would add 3 oz. of formula to 3 oz. of breast milk as the mixture.
- You would continue until you had reached the ratio that worked best for you and your baby. For example 4 oz. of formula with 2 oz. of breast milk.
- You could also transition completely to formula using this method.
One mom I have been working with recently has only been able to pump 2 oz. per feeding and was needing to supplement when she went back to work. So for her the 2 oz. of breast milk to 4 oz. of formula mixed in a 6 oz. bottle has worked out perfect for her and her baby.
Many babies dislike the change from the sweet liquid gold breast milk to the formula.
BUT, if you are able to just add the formula in a bit at a time and have the baby get used to the change in flavor BUT still have the taste of mom’s milk in there, it is usually an easier transition.
Many moms are surprised that you can both formula feed and breastfeed at the same time. The fact that you can mix the two is also surprising.
The thought is that it’s an ALL OR NOTHING system.
Either all breast milk for a baby or all formula. That is not the case. Mixing it up is a perfect blend for some moms and babies.
*In this post I am not advocating for formula feeding. Nor am I saying this is the only way. Or that this is the case for everyone. This is just a common question after discussions about weaning, increasing supply, how the mother feels about breastfeeding, etc. This is also my own opinion and years of experience working with breastfeeding moms and of course with my own children.