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Mixed feeding from birth

(31 Posts)
BigCatFace Tue 16-Dec-14 12:18:14


Just wondering if anyone has done mixed feeding from birth and how it's affected their milk supply?

I have bipolar disorder and it means that after birth I'm going to be spending 5 days on the postnatal ward getting rest. They would like my husband to do night feeds so I can sleep, but obviously, he doesn't make milk. I am really worried that doing mixed feeding from the beginning is going to mean I can't breastfeed, and apparently can't pump before 6 weeks.

I'm a first time mum so really new to this- any advice appreciated.

Thank you

Seeline Tue 16-Dec-14 12:23:21

I mixed fed my DS. He was in the Special Care unit at first and was tube fed, so couldn't even try to bf for the first 3 days or so. I had a pretty rough labour, and my milk supply was very poor, but I was allowed to pump straight away - they fed colostrum down his tube smile
Once I started bf'ing there was never enough to keep him going so used to top up afterwards with formula. Soon got a routine going where I could completely feed some of the time, and then often the night feed would be a bottle. I carried on like that, probably more bf than ff, but continued with both until 6 months without any problems.
Both my DD and I were healthier the second time round and I ebf for 15 months with her (mainly due to her refusing bottles and formula but that's another thread).
It can work - good luck smile

ChristmasJumperWearer Tue 16-Dec-14 12:25:50

I did this from a few days old with my DC2, for various reasons, some physical, some to do with my mental health (I teetered on the brink of PND with DC1), and it went really well, no issues with my milk supply.

DH did the last feed every evening as a bottle/formula feed and it just gave me enough of a breather to put DC1 to bed and have a bit of a break.

I wished I had done this with DC1, it gave me a much better balance and I was able to continue breastfeeding longer with DC2 because I didn't feel so "trapped".

Ultimately your baby will need you to be well to be able to look after him/her. It sounds like this is a good solution, and you can always tweak it as needed. I used to prefer the night-time breastfeeding snuggles and then would go to bed early whilst DH did the evening feed if needed, but then I'm quite lucky in being able to cope reasonably well without decent sleep.

Good luck!

AnythingNotEverything Tue 16-Dec-14 12:28:26

Lots of people successfully mix feed, some by luck and some through good planning.

I think you need face to face support from your midwifery team bf specialist and the hospital's infant feeding coordinator.

I'd also call the national breastfeeding helpline.

Who has said DH should do night feeds? This could potentially have a negative effect on your supply, leading you to cease bf earlier than you would like.

(Also, and I know you didn't ask about this, but if you're on any medication, there's an excellent helpline run by a pharmacist who has the best info about what drugs are star during bf. I can't remember what it is called ... A search on MN should bring it up).

Figfog Tue 16-Dec-14 12:30:10

I did this from a few days old with my son with absolutely no problems. My supply didn't suffer at all and I was lucky in that my son loved any milk in whatever form- he had no issues swapping between. I think I probably did about 75% bf, 25% bottle- but it meant that I could get a break occasionally.

I think mix feeding enabled me to carry on breastfeeding for so much longer than planned (about 10 months). My husband really enjoyed being able to feed my son too- it seemed the best of both worlds for us.

BigCatFace Tue 16-Dec-14 12:30:22

Thanks everyone smile AnythingnotEverything, I am under the perinatal mental health team, so that's a consultant psychiatrist and perinatal nurse, who work with my midwife and consultant. They are the ones who said my husband should do night feeds and who want to keep me on the ward for a while. My husband works night shifts so he's actually giving up work to support me and to be a SAHD. My medication is fine for breastfeeding.

Mrscog Tue 16-Dec-14 12:33:32

I don't actually understand why you've been told no pumping for 6 weeks, is there a specific reason.

I think with expert input you'll be able to manage this. Middle of the night feeds/expressing are quite important for initial supply though. Might it be that you could sleep 10-2am, express (less tiring than feeding a baby) then go back to sleep until the morning, or would this be detrimental to your health?

BigCatFace Tue 16-Dec-14 12:35:13

I think I could probably do that- the big issue is that I take a medication which makes me super drowsy. I'd be doing it half asleep and that worries me a bit!

AnythingNotEverything Tue 16-Dec-14 12:41:29

Never underestimate the lack of understanding of bf from medical professionals. It sounds like you have a great team to support you, but I would still advise face to face and continuing support from a bf specialist.

And yes, no reason not to pump for the first 6 weeks. You can pump as soon as your milk comes in.

Mrscog Tue 16-Dec-14 12:42:17

Ah I see, maybe that will work, maybe it won't, but it's an idea there in case it's helpful smile

I think if you feed enough/express enough in the day you could make it work for you. Like I said, see if you can get some expert help, but your supply matches the demand, so if you feed your baby lots in the day, your body should make lots of milk in the day at least, even if you then add in some formula at night.

good luck smile I'm sure it will all work out well whatever happens.

YBR Tue 16-Dec-14 16:01:45

I landed up pumping, BF and bottle feeding (breast milk and formula) for a short time with DD1 owing to jaundice. It was very punishing. Later we mix-fed but my supply never kept up. Did mix feed for 4 months though.

DD2 I mainly BF, but she also took bottles from DH (I didn't pump much so formula). This time it was a bottle to replace one feed a day (very roughly, there was no plan, as such). I managed to keep BF 1 or 2 times a day after returning to work also.

I can understand why they want to take the pressure off - the routine of bf, bottle feed, express, sterilize bottles etc takes most of the 3 hours or so I had between feeds. Very hard going. Much easier if you don't express.

Annarose2014 Tue 16-Dec-14 16:14:41

All midwives tell you to wait a number of weeks before pumping. I'm not sure its neccessary. I pumped as soon as my supply came in, at around Day 5. It was mainly cos my engorgement was so bad and my boobs were so lumpy and painful I couldn't even touch my chest! So pumping eased it. I haven't found it made any difference, tbh. And it was great having breast milk in the fridge. It keeps longer both in and out of the fridge than formula also, which is very handy as a bottle of breast milk will do you for two feeds. I think formula has to be dumped pretty quickly - within 45 mins or something? Thats a pain. And expensive!

If you are going to mix feed long term with formula, look into getting one of those "Perfect Prep" formula machines. People rave about it.

AnythingNotEverything Tue 16-Dec-14 18:36:41

I wonder if they advise not to express for the first 6 weeks while your supply settles. If you're ebf then you could trick your body into creating more milk than required - your book a don't know how many babies they are trying to feed, the more you pump, the more milk they create.

I think it's different if you're pumping to replace a later feed.

eltsihT Tue 16-Dec-14 18:51:24

I mixed fed ds1 from day 3 and ds2 from day 1.

For ds1 he was 9lb9oz and lost a lot of birth weight 12,5% so was advised to top up feed (feed first from both breasts then from the bottle) as i had bad PND I went back to work when ds was 3mo and bf morning and night with formula through the days.

With ds2 dh gave a bottle at 11pm every night so I could get some sleep and bf the rest of the time. As ds2 got older I started giving the bottle at 7pm before I put him down.

I also pumped a lot with ds1 (from day 3) as I had supply issues and it helped bring my supply in.

However you choose to feed good luck!

LetticeKnollys Tue 16-Dec-14 19:08:14

My DS would have starved if I hadn't been able to express! No one mentioned not pumping to me at all (only 3 months ago), seems ridiculous that women would be encouraged to mix feed rather than express, that is surely worse for your supply. confused

Mrscog Tue 16-Dec-14 20:30:56

Yes, unless someone has given you a personalised reason not to express I would express as much as you feel able to/want to. If you're mix feeding it will really help. I expressed from day 3 - based on midwife advice as my DS wouldn't latch.

Messygirl Tue 16-Dec-14 20:35:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

workingtitle Tue 16-Dec-14 22:00:14

I couldn't bf DS initially and i mix fed expressing and formula. This was with help at hospital (DS premature). I had no problem at all, and even moved to exclusive bf for a while.

Someone gave me a lovely analogy once when I was worrying - think of your milk supply as a factory not a warehouse. your boobs will (specific problems aside) always produce milk when needed.

All the very very best with your little one. I think it's really great that proper support is being put in place to help in the early days. I hope everything goes really well for you.

PenguinsandtheTantrumofDoom Tue 16-Dec-14 22:18:19

I think you need some proper, real life, support from a bfing expert. Mixed feeding from birth is totally possible, but never doing a night feed (or expressing at night instead) could really affect your supply and you might struggle . If bfing for a longer period is important to you, I wouldn't rely just on the mental health specialists, their knowledge of bfing isn't necessarily that great.

There are lots of things you can do. But it might need a plan so that you can avoid going 8-10 hours without feeidng in a way which works for you and your mental health smile

AnythingNotEverything Tue 16-Dec-14 22:44:52

Penguin - I think that's what I was trying to say. Thank you!

Phoenixfrights Wed 17-Dec-14 20:58:08

I would give it a try in the way they are suggesting. It's a tricky one because likely the psychs know little about breastfeeding but the BF professionals equally are not likely to have enough knowledge about bipolar.

I suspect there are very very good reasons for encouraging you to rest up at night. Broken sleep precipitates my MH issues so guessing you are similar for them to have recommended .

Your health is utterly paramount here but I'm sure you know that. Bitter experience tells me that BF is no bloody good if you're too ill to parent.

If the drugs make you drowsy in the night it might be safer if you don't deal with the nught wakings.

I'm on mirtazapine at night and honestly think I would struggle to tend to a newborn.

I hope you don't think I'm raining on your parade. I just think it's important to be realistic about what you can manage and not set yourself up for a fall. Dunno about you but I can be very hard on myself if I feel I've "failed" even if all the odds were against me IYSWIM.

Cedar03 Thu 18-Dec-14 14:14:44

I would echo the previous poster and make your health the paramount consideration here. Newborns are exhausting because they have no concept of day and night. So your baby may happily sleep for hours during the day but be wide awake all night just when you - for health reasons over and above just having had a baby - should be sleeping. A healthy mum should be your main consideration.

Breast feeding works on a demand and supply basis. The more your baby demands the more your body should produce. so expressing will encourage you to produce more. But to exclusively breast feed and rest at night you'll have to pump a lot in the day which may be OK. But be aware of possibilities of feeling trapped,stuck feeding all day long, exhausted because it's tiring, etc. I'm not trying to put you off - just telling you how it's normal to feel - even without your other health issues.

Take all the support you can but be kind to yourself and if it doesn't work out that is OK. I mixed fed with formula for most of my daughter's first year from about 5 weeks. So it's possible to do either successfully. The important thing is to find what works for you both.

PenguinsandtheTantrumofDoom Thu 18-Dec-14 15:32:47

Yes, just in case there was an ambiguity in my previous post, I totally agree. OP, what must obviously be paramount is your own health. Bfing is a blink of an eye in your baby's life, and we are lucky in this country that ffing is there as a safe and easily available alternative (for the vast majority of us. Don't want to sound like I'm glossing over issues like fuel poverty)

But you are talking about being "really worried" you can't bf. And I think it's fair to say that, if you need 8-10 hours of straight sleep a night from day one, there is a fairly material chance that bfing might not last very long for you. That doesn't mean it is inevitable. Some women have cast iron supplies. But others won't be so lucky and a lack of any night feeds ever could be a real supply problem. I think it's important that you get some real life support and real life advice so that you are realistic in your expectations. It isn't so much the mixed feeds, it's the long gaps without your supply being stimulated, and the fact that many of the hormones that stimulate supply are highest overnight.

It is also worth saying though, that if you bf for a day, or a week, or a month, your baby will benefit enormously. So whatever you manage, be damned proud of yourself.

Good luck. I hope you are one of those with enough milk for triplets smile

workingtitle Thu 18-Dec-14 21:44:23

I wanted to add - just my view but it matches what Penguin says - bf isn't the be all and end all. I put a lot of pressure on myself to bf. I have mental health problem and looking back, bf was possibly not the best way for me (and consequently not best for my son). If there's a next time, I think I'll try bf but be absolutely happy to stop after a few days/weeks.
If you can, try not to be too fixed on mixed or bf. It is really ok to ff.

NewNameFor2015 Thu 18-Dec-14 21:58:33

I just wanted to tell you about my expiearience. When dc3 was born I fed him, but it was painful and uncomfortable. I couldn't deal with the pain so have him a bottle. I tried to feed him a few times the next day but it was awful. While in hospital for 2 days he was bottle fed and very happy. When I go home on day 3 I tried again to feed him as my milk was in, feeding was less painful and more comfortable, so I started breastfeeding. On day 4 I was exhausted, I have CFS so dh took him and bottle fed him for a while, I expressed as soon as I was able. On day 5 dh fed him the expressed milk while I fed him sporadically. By day 6 I was feeling better and since then he has been breastfed with the odd bottle when I have needed rest. At 7.5 months old, he now refuses a bottle and is exclusively breastfed!
I wasn't particularly planning on bf him, dd1&2 were both bottle fed and are very happy, I just figured I'd do what I felt comfortable with and it's turned out this way.
There is no reason you can't express before 6 weeks, I have a friend who expressed milk from day 1 for her very sick tube fed baby for the best part of 4 months. Do what you are comfortable with, if you skip a feed express when you are able to.
I really hope you manage to do what you need to do and are happy with your decisions, that's the most important thing smile

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