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Mumsnet users share their combination feeding experience and tips with MAM

125 replies

JustineBMumsnet · 02/03/2020 10:58

While some MNers find breastfeeding as easy as falling off a log, others say it can be a big challenge, especially in the early days. One MNHQ survey showed that 53% of MNers were exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks (itself lots more than the national average), and 19% at six months. Whether sticking exclusively with breastmilk or not, it seems that lots of MNers discover that combination feeding as a solution that works for them.

With that in mind, MAM would like to hear from those who are combination feeding or have done so in the past.

Here’s what MAM has to say: “Here at MAM we believe in supporting every parent on their feeding journey, whichever journey they end up taking. We believe in parents supporting each other, too. Whether you breastfeed, bottlefeed, or use a combination of the two, MAM wants parents to feel confident and babies to feel good. Today we want to open up a discussion about combination feeding, which means feeding bottles of expressed breastmilk or formula milk to your baby alongside breastfeeding. There’s very little information out there on combination feeding, so if you know the ropes, or would like to share your story, we want to hear from you. Every drop of wisdom could go on to help another parent out there.”

What has your experience of combination feeding been, and what led to your decision to combination feed? Do some styles of bottle work best for your baby when combi feeding? Perhaps you have tips on encouraging your baby to continue to latch on to the nipple once they’re used to a bottle? Or for getting them to accept the occasional bottle?

Whatever your experience or tips, share them below to be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £300 voucher for the store of their choice (from a list).

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!


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Mumsnet users share their combination feeding experience and tips with MAM
OP posts:
MrsFrTedCrilly · 02/03/2020 20:23

I really struggled with BF my first child and ended up combining bottle feeds and BF and basically putting myself under a huge amount of unnecessary pressure.
At the time I thought I was failing on all counts and I got very poor advice from health visitor.
I have since learned that what’s important is feeding your child, whatever way works for you both be that bottle, breast or a combination. Judging someone else’s choices is completely wrong and we should aim to support mothers whatever way they chose to feed their child.

BristolMum96 · 02/03/2020 20:34

Tried BF. Didn't really work for us. Tried combo, lots of effort for not much result. Tbh quickly moved fully to FF and everyone was much happier. Fed is best. However you choose. Although I would encourage everyone who can to at least try BF before FF!

hauntedvagina · 02/03/2020 20:49

I did combination feeding for just five days. My son was EBF for 36 hours, however due to medical complications he was transferred to NICU whilst I remained on the ward. I expressed every three hours and took the milk to the ward, however NICU needed to to see him take a certain amount of milk so all feeds had to be topped up with formula that was provided by the hospital in disposable bottles.

Once we were back together on the ward I tried to EBF, however I was tired. Really tired. DS was frustrated as he'd gone from essentially having shots of colostrum and formula from a bottle to having to work hard to get a feed.

I persevered for as long as I could but once we were home I switched to formula feeding. I felt that we'd both had a rough enough ride and I was at a point where I realised I needed to pick my battles.

The disposable bottles were fine in the hospital but once home, I switched to MAM and found that they suited my son really well.

While I appreciate this isn't the positive combination feeding story you were probably looking for, it's an honest one. Both my son and I were just too exhausted by this point to continue breast or combination feeding, a full baby is a content baby and I needed to consider the needs of my other children too.

TheCatServant · 03/03/2020 07:12

My son had a posterior tongue tie which was not spotted immediately and we had quite a lot of difficulty breast feeding. We also had a significant traumatic event in our lives when my son was 4 months. Both of these things affected the ability to be able to fully breast feed. I was hugely grateful for the ability to be able to choose to combination feed.

alwaysataldi · 03/03/2020 11:39

I breastfed DS1 for around 4 months very successfully, I had a lot of milk and the soreness was not too bad, with DS2 I fed solely on the breast for around 6 weeks, but due to the behaviour of DS1 (there are 2 years between them) feeling jealous of the cuddles and him not having my full attention I made the decision to combination feed, and was lucky he accepted the teat as well as the breast, I expressed when I could to keep my milk flow and spent the time with DS1 and his behaviour improved, and DS2 didn't loose any of the benefits as the initial 6 weeks sole breast and 12 months of combination was lovely to do.

jacqui5366 · 03/03/2020 11:44

I breastfed for 3 months before returning to work for 12 hours a week, and introduced the skin soft teat on a bottle when combination feeding was introduced, I fed him with this teat to introduce the new method of feeding, and after a few minutes of puzzlement - combination feeding was not only a relief for me when at work, it meant I could still have a lovely long night time feed, the closeness and bonding of the breast.

lovemyflipflops · 03/03/2020 12:33

I chose to combination feed after the initial 6 weeks sole breast feeding to create a bond with my husband and baby, and to give me some much needed rest, I agreed to do the night feeds and him the day (for the first 3 months) the extra equipment needed to make and sterilise was something we factored in, and I researched the best teat end to closely match the breast. I left a much work cardigan so my husband put this on his chest when feeding to my smell was close. Having the break from the breast really helped my mental health.

HJWT · 03/03/2020 13:06

With my first baby I had gestational diabetes, then haemorrhaged after giving birth and wasn't allowed to move or sit up far for 24 hours, my DD had low blood sugar because of the diabetes so with all this combined breast feeding didn't get of to a good start and I ended up combination feeding for 3 months. breastfeeding, pumping and topping up with formula!

With my second even though I had a haemorrhage again and ended up in theatre I was determined to breast feed and with DS having a great latch from the start we are still going strong almost 5 months on!

I LOVE the MAM self sterilising bottles because I am able to express milk and give it to DS in a bottle without also needing a huge steriliser ! I can just do 1 bottle in the microwave 3 minutes and done! Perfect 😅

Summergarden · 03/03/2020 18:04

With my first 2 babies, I’d desperately wanted to breastfeed but just wasn’t able to. I expressed as much of my own milk as possible and supplemented with formula.

With baby number 3, I was surprised to find that she took to breastfeeding easily but I was very ill after her birth and was utterly exhausted so I did give a formula feed or two during the night for a week or so. To be honest if I hadn’t done that, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with breastfeeding because those formula bottles at night made baby sleep for 4 hours solid and my body desperately needed the rest.

After that week or so I started to recover and stopped the formula feeds but was grateful that they had been an option in the early days.

It surprises me sometimes that so many mums see the feeding choices as a clear cut formula or breastfed. If breastfeeding doesn’t work out, it makes sense to express even a little if you can to enable the baby to benefit from the antibodies, and supplement with formula as needed.

Bobbiepin · 03/03/2020 18:12

At a month old my DD hadn't regained her birth weight and we were advised to top up. I expressed once and she vomited the whole bottle, never again! We switched to MAM bottles and are still using them now.

When she was tiny she would have one bottle of formula at night, which my DH gave her whilst I slept, the rest of the time she was breastfed so having a couple of extra hours sleep made a huge difference.

Not having to have a steriliser for one bottle a day was really convenient, we'd just sterilize one bottle a day in the microwave. It's also really handy to travel with those bottles. Dd still has the MAM dummies for sleep too.

del2929 · 03/03/2020 18:14

no experience in combo feeds but nice to read on others epxeriences

sharond101 · 03/03/2020 19:37

My first child couldnt latch on and had expressed breast milk for 10 months. It was a huge task and wore me out with the time it took and how little freedom it gave us. My tip is take all the help you can get. It's all worth it in the end.

PaulinePetrovaPosey · 03/03/2020 21:08

I love BFing - DD 9 weeks is currently sucking away. But the occasional formula bottle lets me have a bit of time off duty, and helps DH to be more involved.

I'm very wary of giving more than one bottle a week or so, I'd be devastated if it messed with my supply.

Laney79 · 03/03/2020 21:10

I've ended up combi feeding after initially saying if formula feed. I was encouraged to breast feed in hospital but despite it seemingly going ok to start with my son lost lots of weight. He also had a bad tongue tie which needed sorting out.

I'm happy combi feeding now (he's 9 weeks old) he's had the good stuff from me in terms of the breast milk as well as the comfort and bonding, but also knowing he's had food with formula is a hugely important thing for me.

My one tip would be-pumping is a ball ache so don't feel you have to do it! I'm so much happier now I've stopped doing it. I've realised that it was really affecting my mental health, especially as I often didn't get the "expected" amount during a session.

JonnyPocketRocket · 04/03/2020 12:27

When I was pregnant I was determined to EBF and if I examined myself closely woukd have realised this was grounded in my being a bit judgemental about people who "gave up" and combination- or formula-fed. As it turned out EBF was impossible for us at the beginning, and supplementing with a bottle of EBM or formula bought us enough time to figure it out. Plus it allowed DH to do the first feed every night so that I could get a couple hours sleep 👍🏼 It totally changed my perspective on feeding - whether you end up bottle feeding by choice or necessity, and whether long or short term, we're so fortunate to live in a part of the world where we can do that in a safe and hygeinic way. It's wonderful to have options; make the most of them!

m0jit0 · 04/03/2020 13:03

With my first we breastfed the majority of the time but they did get a bottle of formula in the evening so I could go to bed. However after a time they refused a bottle which made it difficult if I had to be away from them.
Good breastfeeding support is in my opinion vital and often not readily available. Informed is best.

kateandme · 04/03/2020 13:03

i think the guilt needs to stop and the support needs to really start.we keep hearing we need to top the pressure on new mums but it is there even if its can feel it.
we need to do what works for each child and their parents.and that means getting support from a partner if you have one.or giving confidence for the single parents to do it alone.and it needs to be what they can cope with.
everyone is different.
i would always try BF if you can.but then find your and the abby will be happier for it.
if youre reallly are doing your best then you are the best.

defineme · 04/03/2020 16:17

I exclusively breastfed my ds1 for 14 months and he wouldn't take a bottle which made leaving him for any length of time tricky until he got the hang of a cup. With my twins (born when ds1 was 2 years old) I knew I'd need help so I could get a chunk of sleep in order to be able to function in the day. As soon as we got home from hospital I introduced a 10pmish bottle feed and carried on breastfeeding the rest of the day. So I'd feed and put them down to sleep (and ds1) about 7pm and go to bed myself and dh would give them the bottle when they woke up. I usually got about 4 or 5 hours which made me able to cope with the constant night waking- the couldn't do those because he couldn't breast feed and does a lot of driving for work so needed his sleep. I did try to express but it didnt work- drained by twins! So it formula in the bottle.They never had an issue with bottle or breast or the combination. I breastfed them like that for about 8 months and had completely switched to formula when they were a year old.

fishnships · 04/03/2020 18:30

Nipple shaped teats to help the baby to take the bottle, worked for me.

Nighttimenope · 04/03/2020 18:39

I combination fed my third for the first six months and I loved it.
After the positive experience of breastfeeding my first two I knew I wanted to carry that forward if I could, but similarly I’d just been through the horror of a hyperemetic pregnancy with two under 5s in my care and significant pelvic pain and health concerns for my new baby in utero.. I was quite happy that we’d all been through enough and I saw the mum guilt for what it was and decided combination would be best for the family as a whole. With the experience I had of breastfeeding my first two I felt confident in what I was doing with my supply and schedule, and I had times where I was free to get stuck in with the older two while daddy fed the baby. With a healthy newborn and after a horrible pregnancy where I felt I couldn’t meet anyone’s needs, I felt free to choose what could support us all. We have a tiny kitchen, the MAM bottles that can be done in the microwave were perfect in that we avoided the space being taken up by a steriliser, and baby was happy to switch between bottle and breast.

helloswellow · 04/03/2020 20:47

Before DS was born, my dad bought us a mam starter set. I was adamant I wouldn't need it because I was going to breastfeed but he told me to put it in a cupboard somewhere and keep it just in case. Clearly he knew something I didn't.

DS had a really bad tongue tie that wasn't identified. He couldn't latch at all and I didn't get much support from the midwives. One student came and sat with me and she listened to me cry about how much of a terrible parent I am because I can't even feed my own son. She told me I could use formula but try express breast milk to bottle feed.

While every midwife seemed to want me to just feed formula, my partner bought my bottles and breast pump and I kept the tiny little fridge on the ward filled with expressed breast milk. I was there for a week and every day that student midwife told me how well I was doing and took the time to remind me what I was doing was worth it.

After a week, we went home and carried on pumping and feeding. I slept on the sofa and pumped every 2 hours then DP would help me feed DS an hour later. I got no sleep for the first 2 months.

When we saw the breastfeeding team at 8 weeks they asked me to bring along these specific nipple shields and they'd help me try feed without expressing. DS reacted well to them but I couldn't get the hang of it. I got so stressed with all the faffing that I reverted to expressing for my own sanity. A week later he had his tongue tie cut and I tried the nipple shields again. After looking online I realised the ones they recommended weren't really ideal for my nipple shape and size so ordered some mam ones online. I thought the different shape might suit me more and I was right. After they arrived, I used them for every feed, no more expressing. At 12 months he self weaned from the nipple shields and at 18 months he's still breastfeeding.

If it wasn't for that student midwife, I wouldn't have preservered. I sent her a thanks card but I don't think I'll ever be able to share how grateful I am.

MumC2141 · 04/03/2020 21:38

Had to give some formula for both in their early days as they were in SCBU, tube fed and I couldn’t express enough. Once they were able to breast feed, did this exclusively but added some cup feeds of expressed milk once they were older and I was back at work. Tried bottles of expressed milk with my first with variety of teats but she refused them all.

PickledChicory · 04/03/2020 23:56

I intended from the start to combination feed all 3 of my dc and they have all been different and responded differently to bottles. I didnt find there was much support for combi feeding. I really struggled to bf DC1 so introduced an expressed bottle early on tho dodntWe combi fed from around 4 months when I went back to work, didnt know about mam bottles then. I struggled to combi feed with DC2 as refused bottles. This is when I found not all bottles are equal. I dont think I tried bottles early enough and tried way too many different types.
I go back to work on Monday and DC3 is doing well with combi feeding. Again I started early with bottles and stuck just to the mam ones as easy to sterilise too. We did have a spell of 2weeks of refusal but I just kept trying every day at the same time with same type bottle (mam) and she was back on. I gave formula and put DC3 in bouncy chair whenever I was feeding I have also found that although its great to give your baby expressed milk my 2 DC were not fussed if breast or formula in their bottles.

Peanut55 · 05/03/2020 00:08

As a first time mum I was adamant I would breast feed. Come day 10 and with cracked and bleeding nipples, I used to will my son not to wake as feeding was so painful. I used to sit and cry during let down.

I had no choice but to try and express and feed with a bottle. He took the bottle straight away but pumping was so painful as my nipples were raw. I eventually turned to formula.

Once my nipples healed , around day 21 I decided to try and breastfeed again. My milk had already began to dry up and it was an arduous task but between us we persevered and got a good healthy supply back. I watched several YouTube videos on how to correct the latch and it seemed to have did the trick. I really missed how close I felt to my baby whilst breastfeeding. We did however still offer a bottle for the last.wvening feed, as my DH loved to do this feed and it gave me a chance to sleep. This was made with formula.

At 10 weeks I had a misdiagnosed breast abscess which saw me requiring emergency surgery before it burst through my breast. I was told it was a milk filled cyst and had had it aspirated to no luck. 3 types of antibiotics did not clear it. I had 5 good weeks of breastfeeding but ended up needing to stop for good due to a hospital stay and recovery of my breast. Feeding on the days leading up to my surgery was excruciating, I would rather have done labour again.

I really do miss breastfeeding but my son has flourished regardless of how we fed and still feed him.

It was also a guilty but welcome relief to be able to have somebody else feed him and give me a break.

I would definitely combination feed any more children I had.

Peanut55 · 05/03/2020 00:13

My tips for combination feeding would be

  • still lean baby into you as if you were breastfeeding and offer skin to skin contact to begin with.
  • we used breast like soothers from tommee tippee to help get him off comfort feeding. Sometimes he would be on for 3 hours. I do believe this helped him with a bottle teat.
  • before putting teat on the bottle I used to cover it over my nipple so it smelt like my milk. Only for a few days did I do this but it meant baby would take it straight away.
  • do not feel guilty. A fed baby is a happy baby. ♥️♥️
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