What to Consider When Choosing Between Breastfeeding, Pumping, Combination Feeding, and Formula


Readers had a great thread recently about what to consider when choosing between breastfeeding, pumping and combination feeding — so we thought we’d round up some tips, as well as discuss just plain formula feeding. What did you do with your child(ren), readers, and what influenced that decision?

How did you feed (or are you feeding) your baby — breastfeeding, pumping, formula feeding, or a combination of two or more of those? Was that what you had planned before your baby arrived?

Note: The CorporetteMoms team members all had different experiences in feeding their babies, and we recognize that every mom has her own, too! Also, we support “Fed is best” as a good message for moms, but you should be aware that the organization Fed Is Best supports some some questionable science; for example, the founder claims that babies’ early feeding difficulties may cause autism.

What to Consider When Choosing Between Breastfeeding, Pumping, and Combination Feeding

Try not to judge breastfeeding by the first month or two

Breastfeeding is typically promoted as a beautiful, magical bonding experience between mom and baby, but it probably won’t feel like that right away — and maybe it never will for you, although it does get much easier. At the beginning, your life may feel like it revolves around breastfeeding; one reader noted in the comment thread that it was like a full time job for her during her maternity leave.

For most moms (but not all!), the first weeks of breastfeeding are pretty rough — plus, you’re recovering from childbirth at the same time! For me, the first six weeks of nursing my son were incredibly painful — and I don’t think we sufficiently warn moms-to-be about that possibility! That timeline for breastfeeding challenges is common — a few readers mentioned that things become easier for them after three to six weeks. In my case, I used lots of Lansinoh [affiliate link] and got help from a lactation consultant more than once, but my son had issues with his latch and it took quite a while for him to figure it out (and for me to learn how to help him). I also had oversupply, which didn’t help — and, of course, the opposite problem of undersupply can be very stressful for moms, too.

Some babies have tongue-tie which makes nursing difficult (but can be corrected). Cluster feeding, which is most common in newborns, is also difficult for breastfeeding moms.

That said, if you don’t have the physical and/or mental energy to wait weeks or months until things get better, don’t beat yourself up!

{related: breastfeeding vs. formula feeding: as a Type-A woman, what did you choose?}

Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing

Plenty of moms decide that combination feeding — supplementing breastmilk with formula — is the best option for them and their babies. (Check out our reader guest post with tons of combination feeding tips.) One combination-feeding reader noted in the comment thread that the arrangement worked really well for her — her baby had bottles of formula during the workday, and the reader breastfed in the mornings, evenings, and on weekends.

Combination feeding makes it very easy for your partner to handle a nighttime feed, for example — once your baby is used to the bottle. Some lactation counselors aren’t very supportive of combo feeding, according to a few readers in the comment thread, so be prepared for that possibility.

One popular combination feeding method has been promoted by “Midwife Cath” aka Cath Curtin. One reader commented that it was a “lifesaver.” Curtin recommends that for the first six weeks, the mother’s partner give the baby a bottle of formula every night at 10 p.m. — as part of the “BBB” routine of bath, bottle, bed. That way, moms get a longer period of uninterrupted sleep. The Cut quoted Curtin as saying, ““Women need a physical and emotional break from the baby. BBB takes the pressure off and encourages women to breastfeed for longer.”

Another option is to breastfeed for several weeks or months without supplementing with formula and then switch to solely formula feeding at a time that’s right for you. Experts say that at least a year of breastfeeding is ideal, but you should feel good about any amount of nursing that your baby was able to do (and feel fine about any decision you make, whether or not it involves nursing!).

Some of our guest poster’s favorite items for formula feeding — see all her combination feeding tips: basket / drying rack / travel packs of formula / nursery water

This post contains affiliate links and CorporetteMoms may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!

Exclusive pumping is tough — but it can be done

Pumping a few times a day is tough enough (here’s our summary of advice for moms who pump, and a guest post with advice from a reader), but exclusive pumping is doable — for example, if your baby isn’t able to nurse. Just make sure to get the best pump you can, as well as a hands-free pumping bra, extra pump parts, and microwave steam bags [affiliate link]. You may want to consider renting a hospital-grade pump. Here’s a government guide to the rules on health insurance companies covering the cost of a pump.

Fortunately, there are tons of online resources for exclusive pumpers, including the following:

Please chime in in the comments if you have more EP resources to recommend!

{related: how to get deals on formula}

Formula feeding has its own advantages

A lot of moms feel like they’ve failed if breastfeeding doesn’t work out and they need to switch to formula. (On the other hand, a lot of women who actively choose formula feeding feel zero guilt, and that’s great!) No matter what you’re feeling, you’ll find that formula feeding has several advantages (although you may have to deal with criticism from judgy friends, family members, and so on).

One of those is … NO pumping! Working moms all have different experiences with nursing their babies, but I’m pretty sure no one has ever said, “I just love pumping! It’s just so comfortable and convenient!” No washing pump parts, no worrying whether you’re going through your freezer stash too quickly, no lugging your pump to work every day, etc. Bottle-feeding is also a great way for your partner to bond with your baby. Also, if you switched from breastfeeding to formula and used to worry about whether your baby was getting enough milk at each feeding, now you’ll know exactly how many ounces of formula they’re getting. And you can bond with your baby during feedings just like a breastfeeding mom can — here’s a Romper piece by a bottle-feeding mother who shared some tips.

One reader from the comment thread noted that she switched from EPing to formula feeding when her preemie was three months old (though it was tough for her emotionally), and the results were good: Her baby was happy, she and her partner were happy, and her preemie tripled her birth rate before she turned six months. Another reader switched to 100% formula for both her babies — at three months with her daughter and four months with her son. The different ways the transition affected each baby’s weight led her to conclude it wasn’t worth agonizing over. (Here’s an article from Healthline about weight gain among breastfed and formula-fed babies.)

Note: If any aspect of feeding your baby is causing you severe anxiety or intrusive thoughts or is making you feel depressed, please contact your doctor to be evaluated for PPA/PPD.

How did you decide between breastfeeding, pumping, and combination feeding — or just formula feeding? Did your plans change after your baby was born? What are your favorite resources for information about feeding your baby?

Stock photo via 123rf / seventyfour74.

The post What to Consider When Choosing Between Breastfeeding, Pumping, Combination Feeding, and Formula appeared first on CorporetteMoms.

Older Post Newer Post