When it comes to caring for your newborn there are a lot of terms and techniques to understand, and combination feeding is one of them.
Beyond the simple knowledge of breastfeeding and bottle feeding, combination feeding is when you feed your baby a combination of breastmilk and formula. While it is not as widely practiced as exclusive breastfeeding or formula-feeding alone, combination feeding has so many benefits that it cannot ignore any longer. Combination feeding can help you produce more milk faster after returning to work, ease your anxiety over reducing the amount of pumped milk and give you peace of mind that your baby is getting enough nutrition during the first few months of life.
The Benefits of Combination Feeding
- Helps boost supply– When breastfeeding, you have to be careful not to overfeed your baby, or else you could end up with a low supply. Combining breast and formula feedings gives your regular body breaks from lactating, so it has time to replenish your supply.
For a complete look at Understanding Oversupply and Drop in Supply, click here.
- Helps prevent overfeeding– When breastfeeding, it’s easy to overfeed your baby without even realizing it. Mixed feeding gives you a more accurate way to gauge how much formula your baby is taking in.
- Helps prevent engorgement– Engorgement is a common issue when you’re breastfeeding. Combination feeding can help prevent engorgement by giving your breasts a break from lactating.
- Helps you recover quickly after returning to work– Combination feeding helps regulate your milk production so you don’t end up with a low supply. This means you can transition back to work with less anxiety over reducing your pumped milk.
How to Start Combination Feeding
If you decide to combine feeding, start with a feeding schedule that you feel most comfortable with. Remember to always start with breastfeeding, followed by feeding formula. Some feeding schedules may look like this:
- Feed your baby 30 minutes after every breastfeeding session.
- Feed your baby every two hours from the beginning.
- Feed your baby every two hours and then transition to every three hours once your supply increases.
- Feed your baby every two to three hours, then transition to every four hours once your supply increases. The feeding schedule you choose is completely up to you. The most important thing is to be consistent and to always start with breastfeeding, followed by feeding formula.
What to Expect When You’re Combining Feedings
As with breastfeeding alone, your baby may take anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes to finish the feeding. Some babies will finish faster than others, but it’s important to remember that there is no rush.
- You may notice a decrease in the milk you produce. This is because your body is being given a break from lactating. However, this decrease in milk will be minimal, and you should still make enough to sustain your baby.
- Your breasts may feel different when you’re combining feedings. Your breasts may feel fuller, your nipples may become more tender, and you may experience slight engorgement.
- You may notice an increase in the colostrum you produce. This is perfectly normal and a sign that your body regulates your milk production.
- Your baby may become gassy or fussy at first. This is caused by the extra air in the formula and can be remedied by burping your baby more often after feedings.
- Your baby may take slightly longer to finish the feeding, as formula takes longer to digest.
- You may notice a change in your baby’s poop. This change is standard and caused by the formula’s extra air.
- Your baby might start falling asleep after the feeding rather than falling back to sleep 30 minutes later, as is the case when breastfeeding alone. This is because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk.
Mixed feeding is a great way to boost your milk supply, transition back to work, and ease your anxiety over reducing your pumped milk. It’s important to remember that combination feeding is for the first few months of your baby’s life, so you and your partner must be committed to weaning off formula and onto breast milk as quickly as possible. With the right approach, you can enjoy the many benefits of combination feeding while protecting your breast milk supply.