Combination feeding: The best of both worlds?
Thinking back to when I first became a mum one of the biggest things I remember is feeding for hours on end which is understandable considering that takes up what feels like 90% of your time with a newborn. I remember being asked “breast or bottle” many times on the lead up to having Abel, like black and white it was one or the other. I opted for breast and as nervous as I was I hoped it worked out.
I was lucky that breastfeeding came very easily, both kids haven’t had any issues and it’s been really easy for me physically. Mentally though I didn’t cope very well first time round. I didn’t know anyone who breastfed, did mums my age do it?! I remember feeling so self conscious and confused, 3 weeks in I broke.
The health visitor came round, I was so scared she was going to give me a lecture on “breast being best” but in fact she must have seen the desperation in my eyes and explained to me how a bottle wasn’t the end of the world and to give it a go. The relief I felt was unreal, and so my combi feeding journey began.
I’ve done this with both kids, Abel from 3 weeks breastfeeding until 5 months (I let others get to me far too much and stopped well before I really wanted to) and with Freida from 8 weeks (she was a NIGHTMARE to take a bottle) and breastfed until 11 months. One thing I have found though is the complete lack of information, support and knowledge about combination feeding.
As with anything in parenthood it’s not for everyone, but for me having the convenience of boob and the freedom of a bottle really worked. So I want to spread the word on combi feeding in the hope it helps those out there desperate for a break but not quite ready to quit on their boobs.
Why combination feed?
Everyone will have their own personal reason, a few could be work, mental health, wanting some freedom, others want to help, medical issues, wanting to breastfeed but not coping with it 24/7… the list goes on, whatever your reason don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or question your decision.
Some do it from birth and it works, I’m in a really good (but small) facebook group for combi feeders and a lot of them have for a variety of reasons. If you are able to then breastfeeding soley for the first week or two will really help build your supply and help baby get the hang of it. You will be told (most likely) to wait until 8/9 weeks to introduce a bottle but as I mentioned above we actually got on better introducing one at 3 weeks than 8 so do it when you feel ready. Start off with 1 bottle a day at the same time and you can build from there.
Every brand will claim to be “closest to breast” but I don’t really think there is one fail safe. I used AVENT with Abel and MAM with Freida, I think the key is to find one that kind of works and stick to it. Also choose one with a slow flow, we tried NUK for example and the flow was so fast it made Freida sick everywhere, the slow flow will help reduce the chance of bottle preference.
When to boob and when to bottle
This is totally up to you and what your routine is. Once we had the bottles nailed we tended to boob at night and bottle in the day with the odd boob feed if we were having a lazy day or it just felt right. A great thing with combi feeding is it can be adapted to suit, for example if I had a night out coming up I would work on reducing boob feeds on the week or 2 before the night so that when I was out my boobs weren’t screaming at me then after I could build my supply up again.
I’m in no way an expert but I strongly feel with the lack on information out there on combi feeding it is down to the parents who have done it to get the word out and help others. I can tell you for a fact if I didn’t combi feed I would have given up breastfeeding very early on. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED breastfeeding both kids, second time round I enjoyed it a lot more but I also love me time and having nights out and just not being the only one able to feed the baby. Call me selfish but my sanity has to be a priority and if that means using formula then so be it, you do you.