Before my son was born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. My husband and I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital, and I learned so much but I obviously couldn’t put everything I learned into practice until Baby was born. It never crossed my mind that I may have to feed Baby anything else.
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When the pediatrician said it was time to supplement so Baby could gain the right amount of weight, it almost broke my heart. I wanted to feed him breastmilk. 100% breastmilk. Up until that point, that is all he had consumed and the thought of adding something so foreign to his little body made me upset. I wanted to be feeding him 100% of what he needed, and it was making me feel like a failure when I had to consider supplementing.
I went home and started pumping after every breastfeeding session. I pumped enough to supplement him but I quickly realized I couldn’t pump after every session. I was already so sleep deprived and there just wasn’t a way I could take away the few hours of sleep I was getting. The Dr. also had me feeding Baby every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours during the night. I would never sleep if I continued pumping after every breastfeeding session.
I stopped and thought about what was best for my son. My husband and I discussed our options extensively. He knows I have to talk things out a long time to make a big decision like this. That’s what this was to me-a big decision. Our baby needed to gain weight, and I needed to sleep at least a little (as much as you can with a newborn).
After a lot of research, we decided it was best to supplement with formula. We had free samples of the big brands of formula, but I felt more comfortable giving him an organic one. We decided on this formula, and we used these bottles to make it easier for him to switch between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Luckily, Baby drank the formula from a bottle with no issues. He didn’t have any nipple confusion, and he was able to easily switch between the two forms of feeding.
I made sure I always breastfed him before supplementing with formula because I wanted to breastfeed as much as possible. After a couple of months of supplementing, the doctor told us he was happy with his weight gain and we could exclusively breastfeed again. Yay! I was so happy to hear Baby was doing amazing with his weight gain! It’s nice we now know Baby will take a bottle and formula if we ever have to give it to him again in the future. One day I might feel more comfortable giving him more formula, but right now I am happy to return to exclusively breastfeeding.
There are several reasons why a mama might decide to supplement with formula. Because of my experience, I have learned to have more of an open mind. Being flexible as a new mama is so important because plans always change. I had my heart set on exclusively breastfeeding, but I’m not saying breastfeeding is the only right way. I believed it was the right way for me as a new mama but I quickly learned to adjust my plans and to do what was best for my baby and I. I have nothing against formula-feeding mamas or mamas who breastfeed and supplement with formula (I fell into the latter category).
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Every baby is different, just like every pregnancy is different, and every labor is different, and every mama is different. Every mama must make the decision based on what is best for her, her baby, and her family. We can’t always plan everything out. Sometimes it seems like there is such a big division between the breastfeeding mamas and the formula-feeding mamas. I just hope that mamas out there know there is nothing wrong with supplementing formula, just like there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding or formula-feeding. There is no one right way.
Follow those mama instincts that you have and do what is best for you and your precious baby.
Update as of June 2018
Even though my breastfeeding journey is still going strong, I truly believe this online class would have saved me from some mistakes I made in the first few months. I especially loved the section “Master Your Milk Supply.” I was given the opportunity to take the class and watch the helpful videos..let me tell you..I wish I had this before I started breastfeeding!! It’s an online and on-demand breastfeeding class that is available to you 24/7 so you can go at your own pace. You can even go back and re-watch videos if you need refreshers along your breastfeeding journey. The class has SO much helpful information, and it’s really affordable (like skip-4-Starbucks-drinks affordable!). AND it has a 30-day money back guarantee! I can’t recommend this class enough to all my mama friends!! Click the photo below or this link to learn more about this class! “Breastfeed Like a BOSS in 90 Minutes… Guaranteed!”
If you decide to pump, make sure you read Pumping: Super Helpful Tips and Essential Supplies and if you breastfeed, be sure to check out this helpful list: Breastfeeding Station: The Complete List of Supplies Needed.