National Breastfeeding Week was last week & I am a little late to the party but since i have been missing entire parties due to my mussy brain lately, I figure late is better than never. I'm taking this opportunity to share how feeding is working with Jemima. With the other two babies the midwives had encouraged (a polite way to put this) hand expressing immediately and then pumping on day two. But I'd been thinking about this prior to Jemima's birth and figured that breast pumps hadn't always been available and that maybe it was possible for the milk to come in another way. Back in the day some just kept their babies close, offering the boob constantly and the milk came in (or it didn't and you switched to bottles).
As this was baby number three, I also had the benefit of knowing that the milk would come in. So we hand expressed for the first day and a half while also keeping the baby close to my breast. The nursery tube fed her, so we knew that she was full. Jemima was born on Thursday morning and by Friday afternoon I wasn't getting anything hand expressing so I stopped! I didn't hand express at all from Friday night, only kept offering Jemima the boob when she was hungry and let her suck herself to sleep and by Sunday morning the milk had come in. No pumping at all. Winning.
Now, I'll let you in on a little known secret, which is that you can combine breastfeeding AND formula feeding. This style of feeding is known as combination feeding (or mixed feeding). Combination feeding combines the benefits of breastfeeding with bottle feeding. It gives your partner an opportunity to feed the baby and it gives your tits a break. Win Win. From what I have observed between my babies and others is that you need to offer it from the beginning or within the first month. Otherwise they do get fairly attached to the breastfeeding and it's harder to add in the bottle. But it can work and it isn't just my baby this has worked with. It's something the lactation consultants will get you to do if your supply is low or your having any other feeding difficulties. These babies do not get nipple confusion - I think this is something that breastfeeding nazis made up to scare mothers into only breastfeeding, but I know of numerous mums who have used combination feeding.
So how does combination feeding actually work? For us I breastfeed during the day and then we give a bottle at the late night feed, around 9:30pm/10pm and during the night. Around 2:30am I pump and Nick gives her a bottle. It would be easier not to pump in the night but breastfeeding can take up to or more than an hour at that time of night. Pumping and bottle feeding at that time gets us all back to bed much quicker.
The other times that I use combination feeding is when she's cluster feeding. Jemima will have days where she'll breastfeed for an hour, sleep for fifteen minutes or so and then wake as if she's never been fed and the whole process starts again.
Zelda started with combination feeding but it became a little exhausting as she wasn't draining the breast & fell asleep with each breast feed. This meant that I had to pump after EVERY breast feed as well as bottle feed her after every breast feed (I go into detail about this here). Needless to say this became super tiring and we stopped after not too long.
Lulu never sucked properly and I pumped for two months, bottle feeding with breast milk and formula supplement before switching to solely to formula at 2 months. More about this experience here.
The lesson is that each baby is different and that you have to do what works for you and your family. Sole breastfeeding, combination feeding or sole bottle feeding. It doesn’t matter, as long as you feel ok and your baby is fed. Did you combination feed? I'd love to know how it worked for you. I've put together a list of my essentials for combination feeding include:
- Moo Goo Mudder Udder Balm - Used multiple times a day in the first few weeks.
- Tom Organic Nursing Pads - Unfortunately these don't appear on the Tom website so they may be phasing them out, but they are the only pads that don't irritate me. I know I should try re-useable ones, but the thought of more washing is too overwhelming.
- Aptimal Profutura - The formula we have used for all our girls.
- Mandela Freestyle Double Electric Breast Pump - I bought this with Lulu and it has gone the distance, leant to so many friends (always get individual tubing and parts). But there are a few new pumps on the market now and if I were to buy again, I'd try the MAMMA Pump
- Frank Green Water Bottle - Ok so the type of bottle isn't important, but what is important is to drink lots of water! Breastfeeding dehydrates like you wouldn't believe.
Not pictured is Aveeno stress relief hand cream which is the hero cream that has stopped my dry hands from cracking.