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m2b - feeding questions - mixing feeding techniques - is it possible?

(5 Posts)
cotswolder Tue 07-Dec-10 09:27:54

Ok. I am due in 5 weeks and currently getting my head around feeding. I have some basic questions which I hoping someone will have some knowledge of! Have got mixed messages and just want to see what real life mums have found.

I am planning to start off breast feeding as per advice. I would also like to keep breastfeeding for good 6 months however not sure I want to do this as sole feeding mechanism - due to need for sleep and us both wanting DH to be involved (likely evening and night feeds as DH needs alot less sleep than I do in early stages and then being able to leave DC with DH for 1/2 day for example).

First question. How easy is it to mix feeding and how soon have people been able to make it work? I am aware that the baby will need time to get used to breastfeeding before a bottle can then be introduced but had mixed messages so far as to how long? How do you know that baby might be ready to have something introduced other than a boob?

In terms of addition to breast feeding, I'm very happy to express however understand this can take up quite alot of time. Have also been led to understand I would need to do this at various times of the day including at night when I would naturally bf, to maintain a decent supply through the 24 hrs. Is this right? Could I just do during the day or would breasts then get sore at night / reduce milk supply if not utilised in some manner? (sorry if wrong wording!). If I need to express during the night as well then seems to defeat the objects of sharing feeding and sleep to some degree (if I need to be up as well as DH) or am I being very idealist? Can it be managed?

If not expressing then would be formula feeding. Does this work with breastfeeding at the same time in the still earlyish stages, does it ruin ones breast milk supply? Is a good idea?

Would be very grateful for comments including other ideas / ways I can manage this. I realise that this is rather idealistic perhaps (is it?) and I may get shot down for doing what I want rather than what is best for baby. That said I tend to feel that I want what is best for us all - including an involved dad and a happy (and rested as far as poss) mum.


RJandA Tue 07-Dec-10 09:54:11

Ok, so I'm not an expert but I'll do my best and hopefully a real expert will be along soon....

Normally it is not advised to introduce a bottle until breastfeeding is "established" - normally about 6-8 weeks I think. Otherwise, the baby can get nipple confusion because sucking on a bottle teat is very different from sucking on a boob. Also it can lead to issues with supply unless you express at all the times the baby feeds, which, like you say, means you have to be awake anyway. Much easier to feed the bab and go back to sleep than traipse downstairs to put milk in fridge and wash up the breastpump bits!

You would definitely need to express / feed at night in the early weeks. Once bfing is established (I mean, really established) then you could possibly express more during the day so DH could give a bottle at night and you could sleep through - I believe your supply would adjust to be higher during the day and less at night, but this wouldn't be for a good while.

Re using formula - again, I would wait until bfing is established and then if you want to then you could replace one feed with formula, your supply would adjust.

You might also want to think about and talk to other mums about co-sleeping which is where the baby shares your bed and feeds as they want through the night without waking you... well, that's the idea anyway! It can really help some mums get more sleep. Also I think research has shown that bfing mums actually get MORE sleep than ffing mums on average, although obviously not all ffing mums / mix feeding mums will have a lovely DH like yours willing to do the night feeds!!

Don't forget the importance of napping during the day, when the baby sleeps, you do too. Do not do housework, do not shower (well, maybe sometimes), do not write thankyou cards, just sleeeeeeeeeeeep, whenever you can.

You'll be fine, good luck smile

tiktok Tue 07-Dec-10 10:10:57

cotswolder - agree with RJand...establishing bf is priority as bottles can interfere with that, and can also be hard work, whether you express or use formula. You will have enough to do, honestly, without fitting all that in

Your DH really, really, does not need to feed in order to be involved or to support you. There are loads of things he can do without actually feeding.

When breastfeeding is going well, it can take time but it is less hassle than formula feeding - not everyone finds bf easy in the early weeks, though, and you do need to anticipate frequent feeding and to have confidence that it does not matter that 'you can't see how much the baby's getting' A lot of breastfeeding wobbles are to do with worrying that frequent feeding means not enough milk (it doesn't) and that the milk is not good enough (it always is).

Going along to a bf support group while still pg will help.

Having said that, it is possible to ff alongside bf, but ff has to be kept to a minimum otherwise (as you know) it will interfere with breastmilk production - and then it stops being combination/mixed feeding and becomes solely ff.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your pregnancy!

TruthSweet Tue 07-Dec-10 10:20:18

Hi Cotswolder - Congrats on your upcoming baby.

First off no one is going to flame you for wanting to mix feed. We tend to be nicer than that here smile.

I've not mixed feed through choice (DD1 had jaundice so was mainly bottle fed for 8 weeks before moving on to EBF) but I can tell you that you will need to express at night if your DH regularly does the night feeds as the removal of milk in the night (esp. between 12-3am) is very important in the regulation and establishing of a good milk supply.

The occasional bottle given (i.e. a couple of times a month once bfing established) would not effect your supply (you'd just wake up with Pammie Anderson boobsgrin) but regularly not bfing/expressing at night could impact quite badly on how much milk you are able to make. It could also be quite painful in the early weeks if you were to frequently skip a few feeds on the trot, that might then put you at risk of mastitis (an infection of the breast tissue caused by milk stasis) or plugged ducts (milk clogging up one of the milk ducts [the water is reabsorbed by the body leaving the fats/proteins/sugars behind a waxy/sticky substance]).

The longer milk 'sits' in a breast the less pro-lactin is made, pro-lactin is the hormone that controls bm production - the less pro-lactin the less milk. Milk production is made on a positive feed back loop - the more milk removed, the more pro-lactin made, the more pro-lactin made, the more milk made, the more of that milk removed.....

Pro-lactin levels are highest between 12-3am which is why if your DH was doing all the night feeds by bottle/cup you'd need to do at least one expressing session then. Expressing is unfortunately not as efficient as a baby at removing milk so mums can find they need to pump more than once for a single bottle feed. When I was in hospital and apart from DD3 I was expressing 6 times for 4 120ml feeds (and I was only bfing her 2 times a day so wasn't trying to fit the pumping around lots of bfing).

Usually bfing is established at around 6-8 weeks so introducing a bottle around that time is what is generally recommended if desired. Some women find that introducing a bottle earlier than that is beneficial for them but again an expressing session would have to take place to keep the supply ticking over.

As for formula feeding, every feed you gave of formula would be telling your body to make less bm (i.e. 2oz of formula is 2oz of bm that your body ha been told not to make) plus there is the added draw back of formula changing the bacterial profile in baby's gut.

A solely bf baby (be it expressed or direct fed) has predominately bifidobacteria in it's gut which has a protective effect stopping other pathogens from taking hold, formula (even one feed) disrupts that bifidobacteria and encourages the growth of putrefactive bacteria (sorry for that word but that's the name of type of bacteria). It takes about 2 weeks after a period of formula feeding ceasing for the gut flora to go back to bfing norms.

I know I haven't answered all of your questions, and I hope you don't feel I'm flaming you but if you know more you can make a fully informed decision whether that decision is to solely bf, to mix feed with ebm or formula.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 07-Dec-10 10:35:07

I mixed fed (one bottle of formula at about 10pm) with no problems - but I only started at about four months. I had some supply issues anyway and I think I would have really damaged my chances of breastfeeding if I had started much earlier. Not to say that would happen to you, but as others have said, night feeds are especially important in building supply.

I had read about the virgin gut theory too, so I wanted her to have as long on just bm as I could.

I also agree with the others who say your DH can bond in other ways.

The mixed feeding I did was brilliant - it gave me a bit of a break, which I really felt I needed and really made the while experience much more positive. I'm still breastfeeding now at 10 mo. But I think you should be cautious about it.

By the way, expressing was a total non starter for me. My DD fed a lot when she was small ( every 2 hours, took 45 mins or so) so I really couldn't find time to express. And I barely got any milk anyway, even with an electric pump. I think it could be quite hard work to pump enough for feed every day.

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