My plan was to breastfeed for exactly one year. Supplement with formula? Nah. I didn’t need it. Seriously, I was crushing it. When I got food poisoning and had no supply? Freezer stash to the rescue! When Olivia’s nanny started and we didn’t have enough milk to make all the bottles for the day in the morning, I would pump and then hand her a fresh bottle minutes before a meltdown. I had great timing. But eventually our freezer stash ran out. Plus, my real time pumping was stressful (and so distracting). Five months in and I never got ‘ahead’ of pumping. Pumping was always on my mind and it was draining (ha – mentally, too). Plus, Olivia was bad at sleeping and I was so tired. I was so run down.
I had a moment of clarity at 3 am when I was up for a night feed – I needed help. So I went on to the Whole Foods app and ordered the Happy Family formula. It was the top result in my search and it would arrive in 12 hours. Easy!
Permission to use formula, granted
But wait! What happened to my quest for breastfeeding perfection? What about researching the best formula? I was exhausted and that was it. I needed help and formula was here for it.
When the formula arrived the next day, I still had the courage to use it. I felt so guilty. I ended up making the bottle with 2 parts formula to 3 parts of my milk. That made me feel better. For the first time in a long time, my husband did the bedtime feed and I took a break. Liv didn’t seem to care. She drank the whole thing and then she slept for a 6 hour stretch!
Was it the formula that helped her sleep? Was I starving her because I wasn’t producing what she needed? Did I just need a break? By asking for help, was the universe rewarding me for accepting my vulnerability? We will never know. What I do know is that Liv is happy, she’s eating, and I’m doing a great job as mom.
Combination feeding is the best way for my family to feed Olivia
Fast forward a few weeks…. My supply has been on fire. Liv is sleeping through the night. I’m sleeping through the night! We’ve got a new bottle routine, one that I’m proud of. I still mix the bottles with my milk and formula. (I’ve looked this up now, it’s called combination feeding.) Some days she gets more mom milk and other days more formula.
I’m not stressed out about making 5 bottles in the morning on the days we have childcare. I don’t feel bad when I forget Vitamin D drops, because now it’s in the formula and we don’t need it. If we need to toss milk because Liv didn’t want her bottle I just dump it down the drain and don’t feel a thing about it.
The best way to feed your baby is the best way for you (who cares what I think)
Looking back, I was judgey about formula, even though I carried the ‘fed is best’ flag. I was more like ‘fed is best’ but formula isn’t for me and my baby. I apologize to those mamas I may have unintentionally made feel bad. Keeping a baby fed and happy is hard no matter how you choose to feed your baby. Formula made that easier for me, and for that I’m grateful for it.
I’m still using the first box of formula we got from Happy Baby on Amazon. But, I have tons of questions… like what is the difference between the European style and the US? Who knows if I’ll have time or energy to do the research for our next purchase. But it is on my list, and once I figure it out I’ll let you know!
What is combination feeding?
I was taught there are two ways to feed a baby, with breastmilk or formula. Combination feeding is the third way, and as the name suggests it is a combination of breastmilk and formula.
From here, you choose your own adventure. You can mix a bottle with both breastmilk and formula, breastfeed, give a bottle with only breastmilk or serve up a bottle with only formula. Mix and match.
Tips to help you with combination feeding
- Need help choosing a formula? Try this decision tree the fabulous Fooblie experts made to help you find the best one for you.
- If you mix formula and breastmilk in a bottle, make sure you make the formula first as directed and then add in the breastmilk. These bottles must be tossed after 24 hours or 1 hour after you heat them up. Don’t freeze them either.
- If you want to keep up your supply, make sure you keep pumping when your baby takes a bottle.
- Try different combinations of breastmilk and formula, bottles and boob. Every baby has different preferences (Olivia doesn’t seem to care.)
- Talk to a fooblie coach if you want to get some advice on what works for your situation. Coaches are lactation consultants and registered dietitians and that’s pretty helpful.
We all have complicated journeys when it comes to feeding our kids. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for how you get the job done. xo, Melissa