There is a lot of debate about how to best feed your newborn baby. The question I’m hoping to answer for you today is “Can you breastfeed and bottle feed your baby?”.
The problem is, almost everyone writing to give you an opinion has their own agenda. Sometimes this is subtle but others simply ram their advice down your throats (usually from the breastfeeding camp to be fair). Wouldn’t it be great if we were allowed to make up our own minds about how to feed OUR babies? Well guess what? You can! You can be told over and over again about the benefits of breastfeeding over bottle feeding but ultimately, as a parent, it’s YOUR choice.
Can You Breastfeed and Bottle Feed Your Baby?
When it comes to feeding your baby, there are a lot of options and it can get pretty confusing. More and more research is confirming what women have known since the beginning of time, breast is best for babies. But does that mean that breastfeeding has to be all or nothing? What about mums who work? Or those who have trouble producing enough milk? There are two important sayings in the world of breastfeeding: every drop counts, and just feed the baby.
When using a bottle with a breastfed baby, whether the bottle will hold breast milk or formula, you’ll want to choose a bottle that mimics breastfeeding. There are several bottles on the market that come with slow-flow nipples and are shaped more like a breast. These types of bottles will make it easier for baby to go back and forth between bottle and breast. Sometimes, though, babies don’t take to the first bottle you try, so it can be good to try several different kinds of bottles to see which baby prefers.
Bottle Feeding Breast Milk While Mum is Away
Of course the easiest situation is for a mother to be able to nurse for every feeding, but that is not always possible. For the times when a mum has to be away – be it for work, appointments or a night out, the most important thing is to feed the baby. In these cases, the second best option is for the mum to pump some breast milk and use a bottle.
If you are working or going to be away from your baby on a regular basis, it’s going to require a bit of research, some extra planning, and a lot of dedication to provide enough breast milk for bottle feeding, but most mums find that it is worth the extra effort if they want to continue exclusively breastfeeding. One important tip to keep up enough supply to satisfy baby, is for you to make sure you are pumping as often as baby eats. You will also want to make sure that the caregiver doing the bottle feeding is not overfeeding the baby, a good way to do this is to practice “paced feeding,” which means that the baby is fed slowly with some breaks and frequent checks for satiety in a way closely resembling breastfeeding. As you can tell, some research on the best ways to keep up supply and the best ways to feed baby will go a long way to help maintain a breastfeeding relationship in a working-mum situation.
For the occasional bottle feed, for appointments or nights out, it will be easier to collect enough milk, but you will still want to be mindful of not going too long between feedings or pumping sessions to maintain your supply. In order to collect milk to feed baby while you’re away, you could try pumping after the first nursing session in the morning as that is when milk supply is generally highest.
Bottle Feeding to Supplement Breast Feeding
While breastmilk is best for babies, there is absolutely no shame in using formula. Some women have trouble producing enough breastmilk, and some women just prefer to use some or all formula to feed their babies. In cases where the mum doesn’t produce enough milk, first of all, it’s important to work with a qualified lactation consultant to see if there is anything that can be done to help. Secondly, we come back to those two important points about breastfeeding – every drop counts and just feed the baby. More important than feeding exclusively breast milk is keeping the baby fed and this is where formula is a wonderful invention, and every drop of breast milk a mum can provide for her baby will provide the benefits we associate with breastfeeding.
There you have it, the next time an expectant mother asks “can you breastfeed and bottle feed a baby?” you can proudly tell them.