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Advice on mixed feeding please

(15 Posts)
Tinsel12 Wed 09-Jan-13 19:21:19

I've BF for nearly 7 wks, keep having a crisis every few days thinking can I carry on. Feel so sleep deprived & struggle some days to eat enough like other recent posts. Have tried top up formula 10pm ish for 2 wks on the advice of MW & GP to help with sleep (which it hasn't). HV came yesterday & we decided mixed feeding was the best plan but the more I think about it the more confused I am.

I've been BF in the evenings & then tried the bottle but it really varies how much is taken - 40ml up to 100ml. I wondered if it might work to give a bottle early eve instead of 10pm.

The HV said decide on maybe 2 feeds a day to bottle feed & see how it goes but how do my boobs know? Sometimes they're so hard & spraying so I need to empty them, other times such as early morning after a lot of night time feeding they're soft & DD cries on them.

I can't see how my boobs will know how to fit round the bottles.

I don't mind if my milk eventually dries up by mixed feeding as I plan to swap to FF at some stage anyway but any help to start with would be very welcome.

mrsbabookaloo Wed 09-Jan-13 19:41:26

Hi. Lots of people will come on here and say its not good for your supply, but if your baby will happily take bottle and boob, you can do it if you're consistent. Your boobs will know, if you always do the bottle at the same time and do your breastfeeding at the same time each day. It sounds like your supply is erratic and hasnt settled down yet- but it will do soon. Its very hard and you are still in the thick of the very hard stage, but it will get easier. If you persevere with the breastfeeding alone, it will get esaier, but its ok if you want to mixed feed too.

tiktok Wed 09-Jan-13 19:47:45

Sorry you are having a hard time, Tinsel sad

Would it help to make a call to one of the bf helplines and have a really good conversation about this?

It's hard to make suggestions without more info.

If you give 2 bottles of formula your supply will decrease, as you suggest. Milk is made more quickly when the breasts are relatively empty, and more slowly when the breasts are relatively full (so the soft feeling you have in the morning does not mean you have no milk, it actually means production is stepping up - ask if you want a better explanation than that).

Individual situations vary, but the research (what little there is) into mixed feeding and sleep indicates that parents actually get less sleep when the baby is mixed fed (ask if you need the reference for this). This is partly because night feeding when breastfeeding is quicker and settles the baby (and the mother) more quickly. Of course you could try the earlier bottle instead of the 10 pm bottle and see if it makes a difference in your case - you can drop it if it makes no difference.

One thing you might find helpful to discuss is how to make night feeds less difficult for you.

The other thing to know is that your own diet makes no difference at all to breastfeeding, but of course you may feel better and more energised if you eat better. If your diet is making you feel tired and low, I don't understand how formula would help here.

Hope you find some good help soon .

PeppaPrig Wed 09-Jan-13 19:49:11

I'm in week 7 too and taking it one day at a time. Not strictly mixed feeding, but on 2 or 3 occasions ds has had formula in the night from DH to give my nipples a break and to let me sleep.

PeppaPrig Wed 09-Jan-13 19:54:30

I found LLL surprisingly unhelpful (not just about mixed feeding, I had a few queries), as they told me they wouldn't advise, but would just give info that's what mn is for. GP prescribed thrush cream without examining ds' mouth or my nipples hmm. MWs and HVs all gave conflicting advice. This board is keeping me BF, but it seems that health professionals in my area don't care.

Sorry for thread hijack/rant.

Montypig Wed 09-Jan-13 20:04:02


I have mix fed all 3 of my babies - the first one for a year, the second for 9 months and I now have a 4 m old where I am doing the same. For me, mixed feeding meant that I bf for longer, as I could choose which feeds I did, and I could work / go out/ not feel quite so physically attached.

I did however work hard at making it work - for the first 8 weeks or so, I expressed whenever the baby had a ff. This was a faff, but did maintain my milk ( there or there and about) and did mean I have a store of expressed milk.

I also bf the baby at night ( too much of a faff to get up) but Dh does the 10 feed.

Finally, I give the baby both bf and ff at 5/ 7 pm - essentially a double feed, in the hope that it might settle him down for bed.

In terms of making it work, I have found that making the ff the right body temperature made a HUGE difference for this baby, whilst DD1 took milk at any temp at all, so its worth experimenting.

Good luck - for me, it was the way forward and really helped with my PN issues too. Do PM me if you want more details

Tinsel12 Wed 09-Jan-13 22:51:58

Thank you so much for your detailed replies, I've also received conflicting advice from different bf people/midwives which really isn't helping me.

Tiktok the research about mixed feeding at night is really interesting, I'd like to know more please.

It makes me wonder if I ought to stick it out & hope it settles down but I don't know how much longer I can do it for. I've only been out to the drs & registry office in 6wks & hardly had any visitors as I can't manage with bf! Have been for walks with the pram but that's all.

I had wondered about bf settling the baby at night as I worry ff will have it's own disadvantages. I expected ff to be quicker than bf particularly at night where baby feeds/dozes for ages.

Montypig what you've done is fantastic - I don't think I could bf, ff & express, it will finish me off! Not sure what PM is - I'm new to this!

PeppaPrig Thu 10-Jan-13 07:45:20

I ff dd - formula is as fast as bf at night if you use ready-made cartons. Just much more £££. Making up bottles in the early hours is grim, esp w the soundtrack of a screaming baby!

I'm also not sure how long I'll continue to bf DS. Back to taking it a feed at a time. He didn't sleep last night which isn't helping my ability to make decisions. Shall we both try to get to bedtime and repost? Strength in numbers/solidarity and all that grin.

tiktok Thu 10-Jan-13 09:20:58

Tinsel, the study on exclusive bf meaning more sleep for parents is here:

It's quite a good study - a good large number of subjects, and sleep was measured objectively, as well as by asking parents to self-report.

There's good scientific stuff about infant sleep here but I can't see anything on mixed feeding there.

You don't say where the real difficulties lie - settling your baby, settling yourself smile, frequent waking in the night, cluster feeding, baby won't sleep alone....if you tell us a bit more, maybe we can help. Though do call the helplines, too.

Tinsel12 Thu 10-Jan-13 19:13:54

Thank you for your help. I've been to my GP today for the 6 week check & she's helped me with a plan. She thinks DD isn't getting enough milk from me in the night hence feeding for hours. Also for my sanity I need to introduce some bottles to fill up my hungry baby & gradually change to FF depending how the mixing works.

I wanted to be FF by the time she had teeth anyway, being gummed is bad enough, I don't want to bitten! I know I've given her a good start, didn't even know if I'd manage to BF anyway so feel proud of what I've achieved. In an ideal world I'd BF for at least 6 months but this way if it works I might be able to mixed feed for that long rather than giving up completely.

Peppaprig - I'd like to know how you get on. Not managed to get out to meet other mums yet. My GP's plan is:
BF teatime/evening
bottle at 10pm
bottle in night
BF for early am/late am
bottle pm so I can have visitors/go out
This probably goes against advice/research but she's lovely, has BF her children with top ups & knows me so I feel happy trusting her advice. She says til it settles down in 2/3 days I'll be engorged a bit but can express a bit to relieve it, rather than pumping a lot off. I'll see how it goes, can't make me feel any worse than how I've been.

Wiscy Sun 10-Mar-13 12:01:54

Hi everyone,
I'm having a similar dilemma with my 2.5 week old. He was 8lb14 so a big baby and doesn't seem satisfied after an hour of bf 7-8 times a day. As the days go on, he is getting hungrier and we're giving ff top-ups of sometimes 60-90ml after a 1-hr bf.
Does this sound right and any ideas how to cut down the ff?
I am going to try expressing for first time today.
I am also finding it hard to be stuck to sofa every time he's hungry as I'd like to get out / tidy up / etc, so quicker formula feeds are tempting, but I really do want to give bf a go and do it for 3 months minimum preferably 6 months.

Fazerina Sun 10-Mar-13 14:13:19

Just thought to mention that feeding for hours in the evenings at this stage is really normal for babies. It's called cluster feeding and it doesn't mean the baby isn't getting enough milk. In fact, the size of the baby is hardly ever an indication on whether mum's milk adequately satisfies the baby. Also, I would personally be hesitant to give formula in the evenings, as should the baby get a tummy ache from it (e.g. If the milk wasn't mixed properly or the brand just didn't agree with the baby etc.), you're in for an even more restless night. In the early days, the few bottles DS had were mainly when we were out and about and I hadn't quite got the hang on BF in public. Sometimes, I remember pumping a few ounces in the morning and during naptimes and DH did bath and BT and gave DS a bottle of expressed milk and I had a nice 4-5 hour nap in the evening before the first waking. Also, when DS was around 3 months we started co-sleeping, which meant I got around 9 hours of sleep every night - blisssmile.. Of course, co-sleeping isn't for everyone and we've certainly had problems with it later on, but all in all it's meant more sleep for everyone.. More info on cluster feeding and other issues on BF here:

Fazerina Sun 10-Mar-13 14:17:19

Sorry, should have linked that properly:

Also, thought to add, that whenever I did give DS formula, I used the ready cartons. That way I'd know they were properly made and they were easy to just pour in the bottle when out and about..

kalidasa Sun 10-Mar-13 14:34:13

Sympathies. I really hated the relentless cluster feeding in the evening at the beginning. Our baby stopped doing it at around the two month mark so the end should be in sight. I find breast feeding much more bearable now it is mostly at reasonable intervals.

I can believe that breast feedings is less disruptive to your sleep than getting up to bottle feed in the night. But I don't believe for a minute that you get more sleep breastfeeding in the night than you do if you hand the baby over to someone else for the night/part of the night and go and sleep somewhere else with some earplugs! Your sanity is important too. Obviously this is hard if the baby is still feeding multiple times in the night, but once it's down to once or twice a night then it becomes possible occasionally and was a real lifesaver for me.

If you choose a set feed to replace during the day your breasts will get the idea pretty quickly. We are just doing this at the moment with the midday feed as I am going back to work fairly soon.

As for the issue with going out/having visitors. Is this because you lack confidence feeding when others are there? Is it worth buying one of those breastfeeding cover things? (like a cape that goes over your front, with a wired neckline so you can look down at the baby) You can get them on Amazon. In the end I didn't use mine as I felt it actually attracted more attention than just feeding the baby without it, but if you're very self-conscious it might make a difference. It's such a help when you can go out to a cafe or whatever, and it's worth the stress of negotiating the first few times. You may be able to find a local cafe that often has women feeding in (e.g. a Costa or Starbucks with a lot of space for buggies and a relatively secluded space at the back).

kalidasa Sun 10-Mar-13 14:34:55

Oh yes and definitely buy the ready made cartons if you can afford them. They are so easy (even in the middle of the night) and transportable too.

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