If you have not been
able to pump enough milk for your baby, you've tried every trick
on the supply-boosting page, and it's just not working for you,
and you're ready to throw in the towel - take heart!
Breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing thing. You are not going
to be thrown out of the breastfeeding club if you occasionally
give a bottle of formula. Remember that breastmilk is a
wonderful, nutritious food for your baby - and it has benefits
no matter how much you get.
I like to compare this to adult food.
We know that we really should be eating healthy, organic, whole
grain foods. But if we can't always get a good lunch and
occasionally eat at McDonalds, does that mean we have to give up
on healthy food entirely? Do we need to eat at McDonalds
every single meal?? No
- of course not. And just because your baby gets a little
formula, doesn't mean you can't keep breastfeeding for as long
as you want to.
Can't pump enough? If you're not
able to pump enough, you may be tempted to give up pumping - but
I would encourage you to keep it up, even if you're getting very
little milk. Pumping during the day helps keep up your milk
supply, and lets you breastfeed more on the days when you are
with your baby. This means less time mixing bottles when you're
home, and more of that special closeness with your baby. Be sure
you've looked through the Supply Boosting
tips to see if there's an idea you hadn't thought of.
Hate pumping? If you just hate
pumping, if you resent the intrusions into your day - try this:
give up one pumping session at a time. Give yourself permission
to give one bottle of formula a day, and cut out your least
productive session. Just doing that may take off enough pressure
that you feel better about the whole experience. I believe in
making changes gradually, so there's always the opportunity to
turn back if you're not happy with your choice.
Tricks to supplementing smartly
If you do end up supplementing with formula, try to keep the
amount you give constant, and encourage as much breastfeeding as
possible. For each feeding, offer the breast first before a
bottle so that your breasts keep getting the stimulation to make
more milk. Even better, limit the bottle-feedings to times when
your baby gets a bottle when you are at work, and offer the
breast at all other times.
Supplementing can be a slippery slope -
it will seem like your baby starts to gradually need more and
more supplementing if you're not careful. If this starts to
happen, you can increase the amount you are pumping, or just
refuse to give more bottles when you are home. Your baby will go
through a period of wanting to nurse frequently - but this is a
good thing! Frequent nursing increases your milk supply.
You may want to spend weekend mornings lying around in bed with
your baby with your shirt open - get away from the idea of
"feedings" as individual events that happen at certain times,
and just let your baby spend half a day snacking.
And most of all - remember - your baby
will not be a baby for long. Even if breastfeeding and pumping
seem like a hassle, soon your baby will be walking, talking and
eating table food, and these infant-days will all seem like a
blur. I've never met anyone who breastfed for any length of time
and regretted it. Most mothers, when you ask them, will say they
wish they'd breastfed longer. You'll look back and be proud of
yourself for overcoming obstacles to provide the very best for
Now - get back to work!