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Breast is best?



My happy baby boy doing Calvin & Hobbs – 12 weeks

This week is National Breastfeeding Awareness week and so I thought it time to share my thoughts on the whole thorny issue of feeding.

My baby boy is a healthy wee thing – he sleeps through the night and has done since he was about 8 weeks, he’s a big bouncing boy, holding his head up and smiling lots, and I have no worries at all about his health. I was lucky enough to breastfeed him from birth to now, without many problems, but since he was about 10 days old we have topped him up with formula, now almost daily, for reasons I will explain below.

When my baby boy was born, he couldn’t latch on for a day or two because he was so knackered from the birth and being yanked out after getting stuck. I expressed colostrum (or was expressed like a cow when I was too exhausted) and fed him with that and then on day 2, he latched on and it was wonderful. I’d feed him for as long as he wanted, when he wanted, and then we fed him every 3 or so hours when he came home.

I love feeding him – I do it quietly and calmly on a nursing chair in the nursery and its our time together. He smiles at me, I stroke his head, its a lovely bonding, happy time. I also feed him when he cries sometimes to calm him, and before he goes for a nap if he’s unsettled. I don’t care if certain people (looking at you Gina F) say this is a bad habit to get into as we both feel happier and calmer when we do.

But we had a problem quite early on. I am VERY annoyed that I got bad advice from the first community midwife who visited, who said I was feeding him too much (!) and that he should only be fed every 4 hours. This was terrible advice (everywhere I read newborns must be fed every 3 hours!) and in hindsight I was so sad to see we followed it to the letter, and in the app where we recorded breastfeeding, I saw we moved from every 3 hours to 4 on her advice.

Poor baby got quieter and quieter, never crying to be fed, and we mistook this for having a chilled out little baby, congratulating ourselves on how relaxed he was. Unbeknownst to us, he was actually weak and dehydrated, and at his first weigh in at the hospital he’d lost 14% of his body weight.

I was devastated, crying my eyes out, especially as he’d been feeding so well and we’d acted on bad advice. We had to go to the children’s wing of the hospital where we pleaded with them to let us take him home and feed him up (the alternative was him staying there on a drip). They said we just had to feed him up and asked us what we thought about formula. Initially we were very against it, but they needed us to feed him up and we would have done anything to make him better – I could hardly bear the guilt that I’d actively caused him to be dehydrated – so we agreed. For the hospital, they didn’t care HOW we fed him, just that he was fed enough.

There began Operation Military Feeding where I had to breastfeed him, then express and feed him that, then feed a top up of formula, every 3 hours. It was exhausting, but so worth it. The formula was a godsend – it gave him the strength he needed to breastfeed better. In 24 hours, our wee boy had gained 200 grams. In 3 days, he was crying to demand to be fed for the first time, hydrated and fighting fit, and discharged from hospital.

While it was a scary and sad experience, it was good in that:

1. It meant I expressed from 2 weeks in and realised the benefits of this – relieving painful engorged boobs, meaning I could feed him out and about by bottle if I didn’t fancy breastfeeding in public, and allowing The Chef to do feeds.

2. It made me get over my initial reluctance to give him formula and to understand the benefits of formula top-ups.

The fact is, the hardcore breastfeeding brigade would have encouraged me to keep breastfeeding him exclusively, and in fact the community midwives wanted me to wean him off formula as soon as I could. Their argument is that formula and bottle-feeding stops milk production, makes babies go off nipple feeding, and adds extra bacteria to babies’ stomachs.

But now, knowing I’d received bad advice before, I stuck to MY instinct as a mother and carried on with top-ups of formula as and when needed. The hospital too just wanted me to feed my baby, full stop, no matter how. In my case, top ups of formula made my baby breastfeed BETTER as it gave him the strength to feed, to cry and demand feeding for the first time, so he fed better than before.

Now, at almost 13 weeks, we top him up with formula almost every day. Either because he’s hungry and my milk is coming out too slow, or its in the evening and I just don’t have enough milk for him and he’s a hungry baby boy, or because I’m out and about and breastfeeding is impossible. I do still breastfeed him 5 times a day and The Chef gives him what I’ve managed to pump for his late night snack, but its never quite enough and he needs formula to satisfy his hunger.

And I’m really, really happy with this. It gives me the freedom to formula feed him now and then, to get The Chef to do a morning formula feed if I’ve had (a very rare) night out, and to make sure he’s getting enough food. As the Baby Whisperer Tracy Hogg says – in the 60s when formula was invented, the medical profession thought it was far BETTER than breastmilk and breastfeeding dropped right down to around 20% of mums as everyone was formula feeding, thinking it was the best thing ever. Nowadays, the medical profession thinks breastfeeding is best, but hey they change their mind about everything all the time (vaccinations, when a baby should be weaned, inductions, etc) so who knows if they will change their mind again, and formula is improving all the time so that one day it might be better for our babies than our own milk.

Breastfeeding is such a personal thing, and I KNOW my milk changes all the time – sometimes my boobs are huge and I am an impressive dairy cow, and other days my boobs are floppy and for no reason I can see I just don’t have enough milk and my baby isn’t satisfied with me alone. In the evening I know I have less milk (I know for a fact as I’ve pumped and seen I don’t have a full feed) – which makes sense as I’m probably tired and a bit dehydrated from feeding a hungry baby all day. Some days my milk is white, other days its translucent. Some days I’ve eaten something the baby doesn’t like or my milk is coming out too slow or fast as he cries and pulls away and he won’t eat unless I feed him from a bottle (expressed or formula).

For me, mixing and matching is great – I KNOW he’s getting nutrients both from me and whatever the formula is giving him, I KNOW he’s getting enough food, and as an added bonus for mummy, it allows me to pass over occasional feeds to The Chef or to have a leisurely pub lunch as I know I don’t have to breastfeed in a busy pub when I’m hot and its noisy, because I have a bottle of formula in my bag instead. I’m a responsible parent and I believe I’m acting as responsibly as I can, while giving myself some freedom and ensuring I’m not stressed or anxious (which is the worst thing for baby anyway).

And the fact is, while I know that he feeds better when it’s just the two of us in his nursery, quiet and calm, I also know my baby boy sleeps better in his cot rather than out and about in the pram, and loves nothing better than when it’s just the two of us alone at home, and if I acquiesced to his wishes all the time I would pretty much NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE and become a complete hermit. I’m not a robot, I’m not a dairy cow, I’m just HUMAN and I need my baby boy to fit in with me sometimes. And if he gets a bit of formula because I want to meet friends or need a lie in, and if he has to have a longer afternoon nap because we had a nice lunch out and he had to sleep in the pram, then he will be fine, and I’ll be happier for it, which in the long run is better for him.

So my problem with the hardcore breastfeeding brigade is their emphasis on EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding, and continuing with breastfeeding when it’s just not working, to the detriment of both mother and baby. I have a friend who had mastitis and was told to continue breastfeeding by a community midwife, until she ended up in hospital on a drip. I have another friend who thought she wasn’t producing enough milk in the evening, but who was told she should persevere to increase her milk supply, and whose baby cried all evening with hunger (for 3 months!) until a breastfeeding counsellor from the hospital confirmed she wasn’t producing enough milk and said to top up with formula. That little girl slept through the evening for the first time ever.

I do believe women should give breastfeeding a go (and it is such a lovely bonding experience for you and baby), but if it doesn’t work or isn’t enough, then you shouldn’t feel bad about using formula, which, after all, was once hailed as better than breast. One of the happiest, liveliest and biggest babies in my NCT class was formula-fed from birth as breastfeeding didn’t work at all.

The fact is, parenting and breastfeeding theorists are ALWAYS extreme it seems to me – never adopting a relaxed, try it and see approach, but advocating strictly one camp or the other. This just makes it confusing for mums who feel they can’t trust their own instincts, and puts undue pressure on women who are desperately trying to breastfeed and suffering because it’s not enough for their babies. At the end of the day, us mums know best – we do – we HAVE to trust our own instinct and go with what we think right, and not beat ourselves up for topping up with formula, or reverting to formula feeding when breastfeeding won’t do.

Surely as long as our babies are well fed, that will lead to a relaxed and happy baby and happy mum too?


26 thoughts on “Breast is best?

  1. Pingback: When two tribes go to war – on breastfeeding, Bounty & competitive mums | The Happy Baby Project

  2. S, my experience was exactly the same ad yours. I was determined to bf, baby lost too much weight in the first few days, I had to top up with formula. And I mean, I HAD too. I clearly wasn’t producing enough milk for him.
    I love these comments that suggest we were being lazy by doing this. Like getting comfy with the remote control would have helped? I sat for HOURS feeding the boy, who would then still be hungry. I’d then top him up with formula and sit and pump to try and increase my supply. Then brew up herbal concoctions, and pump even more. I was basically feeding him in one way or another right around the clock. Believe me, topping him up with formula was NOT the easy option. (Feeding for hours, then fiddling with bottles, cleaning, sterilising, pumping for hours is a lot harder and time consuming than simply breastfeeding. BELIEVE me.)
    S, you deserve to be congratulated for perservering. I know how frustrating it was for me. In fact, I still get angry about it now.
    I lasted to 4.5 months and had to stop for my sanity. I’d love to know why supply can be so crap for some people.

    • There aren’t any comments saying anyone was being lazy though? and however you feed your baby it is hard work as you’ve said especially if you are doing breast, bottle AND pumping – hats off , you did brilliantly x

  3. Pingback: Friday finds – 28th June 2013 – Breastfeeding special | Great British Family

  4. Got baby with colic so need to be quick and can’t read all the response.
    I exclusively breastfeed and THINK it is enough.
    I just wanted to say to those who can not breastfeed for whatever reason that breastfeeding actually does make me worried if my child is getting enough.
    I also find that breastfeeding should be approached a bit more relaxed.
    I am still trying to work out timing of expressing and how to introduce formula and hopefully can start soon.
    I had a glass of wine the other day and OMG was I made feel guilty by the hardcore brigade!!
    My friend tops up as well by the way and seems very happy as a result of it. Matter of fact more at ease then me….
    Anyway, great article.
    Need to go!!!!

  5. Thanks for writing this article. I’ve just been told I don’t produce enough milk for my 15week old baby. She had slept through the night from 5-11 weeks old but then it all went old. She now wakes 5times in the night so I’m clearly not satisfying her. Anyway I’ve started topping up with formula and fingers crossed it helps. I’m then going to be able to have some sleep which will no doubt benefit my milk supply.
    Ignore any negative comments, it is just luck that some women produce enough and some do not. Also think of all the people you know who were formula fed, have they suffered?! Of course not.

    • I quite agree with you – I just don’t happen to produce enough for my VERY hungry big boy and that’s OK. I have tried everything of course, but we’re both happy with where we are. Its hard not to feel guilty by some of the comments, which seem to suggest I’m not trying enough and should persevere, but I’m trying not to take to heart!

      Could your 15 week old be about reading for weaning? Read Ute’s interesting blog post here on her baby:


  6. What a great post! Being currently 32 weeks pregnant & getting hoards of advice left right & centre regarding feeding, it’s so nice to read such an honest & upfront account of the reality of breast feeding. I think you’re doing the right thing 100%! Xxx

    • Its such a minefield. Just make sure you get lots of support and whatever works for you DONT feel guilty about it! You’re his mum, you will do what’s right for him. Enjoy your last few weeks of pregnancy! xx

  7. I’m replying after seeing your tweets this evening, my baby is 2 ish months older than yours and I also had the weight loss issue at the beginning (because he was soooo sleepy and I couldn’t keep him awake long enough).

    I was scared to give formula in case it affected my supply and I was made to feel guilty by the midwives for not supplementing!

    I sought advice of a lactation consultant who really helped reassure me and debunked so many of the myths out there which I still have to remind myself of now when it gets hard so in case this helps you she told me

    1. There’s no magic time on each breast to get enough milk, flow rate and speed baby drinks will vary (I was making my nipples so sore trying to get to 20 minutes on each side)

    2. The pump is not a reliable indicator of how much milk you have and after a few months fullness isn’t either (I rarely feel full now but he manages to get enough milk out so must be lots in there!)

    3. Don’t worry about fore milk and hind milk (SO many midwives kept telling me about this but it is rarely relevant)

    Anyway I’m sure you know all that kind of thing and I’m not commenting to say you must exclusively breastfeed (not in the slightest) just that if you want to you can…but equally I think the advantages of baby beig able to take a bottle so you can get a rest is advantageous to everyone too!

    There are too many things to feel guilty about, try not to let this be one of them, you are soon great.

  8. I think you are doing an awesome job mama, I know how hard it is expressing and trying to breastfeed a baby that just can’t latch on, my boy couldn’t feed from me for 5 days after his birth so had a dextrose drip and formula to top up what ever colostrum I could syringe. You have done, and are still doing, great xx

  9. I’m so sorry you got the terrible advice early on, it makes me so cross that midwives are still telling people they are feeding their babies too often rather than allowing them to listen to their baby’s needs. I believe you should do what is right for you and your baby and if you’re doing works for you then you keep on with it.

  10. I hear you when you say that theorists are sometimes extreme, however Human Breast milk being the best food for human babies is not a theory it is a scientific proven fact. Just as people once thought the world was flat only to be proved wrong, we will not go back to a belief that formula is better because it is a parenting trend, Breastfeeding is natural and best this is 100% unequivocal truth. Breastfeeding is nota bonus, it is not ‘Better’ than formula, it is the normal food for a human baby and formula is artificial feeding and ‘less than’ normal. Babies can be fed sugar and water and survive, human babies can survive all sorts of artificial feed and go on to be relatively healthy adults, however long term implications are still being discovered.

    Breastfeeding won’t REDUCE a child’s risk of Asthma, eczema, obesity etc. that risk is neutral, but formula will INCREASE those risks with its non sterile chemically altered contents. Don’t get me wrong Formula has a place but Breastfeeding IS enough and there are many things you can do to boost supply etc. MILLIONS of women Breastfeed exclusively without any problem so top ups of formula are fine if that is your CHOICE, but it is not necessary. Finally Formula will NEVER be better than human breast milk for human babies. Formula isn’t even second best it is fourth best. 1) Breastfeeding 2) Expressed Breast milk 3) Donor Human Breast milk 4) Formula

    Please read the book ‘Politics of Breastfeeding’ it will rock your world!! When you have read it, please blog again…. Every woman should read it, it is jaw dropping!!

    • PLease can you read my response to gizmosparklehorse below please? I have excema (I was exclusively breastfed) and so your comment about increasing risk with formula really upset me and made me feel guilty. I know its not your intention but just so you know – words like that have a terrible effect on mums – we shouldnt be made to feel guilty! Cluster breastfeeding in the evening was tried believe me but DID NOT WORK. Top ups of formula have been a godsend and he is far happier. I’d rather a happy baby than a stressed baby, even if he has a few extra chemicals.

      And he will be exposed to chemicals his whole life – detergent, pollution, what I’m eating! I can’t protect him from everything! x

  11. Oh S, I’m fuming for you too at that horrendous advice from a community midwife – the NHS and reliable fact based breastfeeding info recommend feeding on demand or baby led feeding which can be every 10 minutes in the early days and weeks ( That midwife failed you and put you off your instincts and I hope you complain so that person can be re-trained and not damage another family’s first days and weeks if they choose to breastfeed. You were understandably distraught at higher than average weight loss and you did what you felt was right for your family – that will be different for everyone and we all make choices for lots of different reasons. Sadly many don’t get a chance to make an informed choice and are pressured into a decisions which they later regret as they didn’t know what impact it would have down the line. I hope that the hospital supported you to increase your supply as well as give top ups. It sounds like they did with you feeding and expressing after – hard work – you’ve done brilliantly after a tough birth and wee man is gorgeous of course. I’m frustrated and sad for your friends too who’ve had the wrong information given to them and insufficient or no support with mastitis and supply.

    I’m a bit disappointed in some of the other things you’ve said though as other mothers may take your word as fact – but you didn’t write this post expecting no comments as it’s always an emotive topic – feeding our children is a fundamental and one that most are pretty defensive of however they do it. I know full well that you are an intelligent lass – an excellent debater etc so hoped you would have taken all information into account. Formula is of course a life saver for some but it’s constituents can’t compare to breastmilk and I will eat my hat if it is ever improved and proven to be better than our own milk – it’s not produced specifically for each baby, doesn’t contain the antibodies, long chain fatty acids etc that breastmilk does. Here’s a poster which shows what’s in each (also a good source of parenting and breastfeeing info which isn’t extreme) so it’s not a matter of opinion – breastmilk is normal, formula is not as amazing (but it keeps some babies alive so I grant that it can be amazing for some) nor am I saying you shouldn’t give a child formula – it’s a choice for parents to make knowing all the information. Formulated milk is heavier and more slowly digested than breastmilk – hence the longer gaps between feeds and some babies sleep longer – not all though.

    It’s your choice if you want to feed in public – the law supports you ( and doing it helps to normalise breastfeeding for others in a world where the social conscious is still influenced by formula marketing was very effective, don’t get me started on “follow-on” milk – . Personally I feed wherever my baby needs fed and find it more convenient to breastfeed than have to prepare anything else be it expressed or formulated milk, but that’s me.

    I’d love to see more “Breast is normal” posts. Over 90% of mothers could breastfeed if they choose to AND get the right support, being unable to is rare an truly feeding on demand will set up supply whereas supplementary foods are manufactured and carry risks which you know about.

    Less milk in the evening – yep that’s normal – it’s why babies frequently cluster feed in an evening – it doesn’t mean you aren’t producing enough – a common misconception. Getting comfy on a seat/sofa surrounded by drinks, snacks, phone, tv controller and breath in babylicous. Other suggestions here too –

    it’s your baby, body, family, life and choice. Choose the path that your instincts tell you to – just make an informed choice and really listen to instincts – beware of baby experts – you are the expert on your baby. I actively support and share information with mums every day as an accredited Breastfeeding Counsellor – some are breastfeeding, exclusively, mixed feeding or pumping exclusively – all for different reasons. What has been key to many is a network of support: family, friends, new friends, online friends etc. I was lucky enough to find amazing support and fact based information which is why I trained to pass on that knowledge and support to others.

    On the ‘everyone is Extreme thing’ – in my experience the ones who are high profile are more extreme – or rather the ones who are more extreme get more publicity.

    Dr Sears is a great source of fact and experience based parenting

    You don’t have to do what everyone else in an antenatal class does (not saying that you are S) – there are many paths and one has your name on it even though we don’t always find it at first.

    Lots of love,


    P.S. Didn’t intend it to be this long but lots to say and little time to edit with two small people to care for.

    • Hello! You might find this link interesting:

      I know it wasn’t your intention, but information on why formula isn’t great for babies has the effect of making mums like me feel guilty! I was advised to feed him up with it by the hospital, by a great paediatrician who’s advice I respected. My husband was solely fed on formula (not because his mum was lazy but because she couldn’t feed him) and has no issues, I was solely feed on breast and I have excema and terrible skin. Both of us are very healthy as is our boy – I suspect its in the genes.

      I did want to read some scientific stuff on formula after I read your post but then I realized I don’t need to – I can watch how good it is for him with my own eyes!

      The fact is, cluster feeding in the evening, would NOT satisfy my boy. I KNOW I don’t produce much milk in the evening – both because I’ve pumped to look AND because he gets frustrated and cries a lot.

      I know what he wants because I’m his mum and I’ve of course tried breastfeeding, but when faced with a screaming baby, what would you do?

      He wants a big, bulk, supper before sleeping. He’s a very sleepy baby and I wouldn’t want to keep him up in the evening, feeding him on scraps from my boobs, listening to him cry and scream because he’s hungry.

      I do breastfeed him first, but then when he gets frustrated and I can TELL there’s no milk, I give him a top up bottle (probably 60 mls or so depending on how much he’s had with breast). He then sleeps from 7pm onwards and is happy.

      I am then able to pump 100mls or so in the evening, and this is again topped up with formula (around 20/30 mls). I see this as “bulking up” my milk to satisfy his hunger.

      Last night, I decided to try feeding baby solely on breastmilk. I managed to get him down at 7pm with only breastmilk, cluster fed in 2 lots, but then at 10pm I had NOTHING in my boobs although I let him try to feed to see what he could get and then topped up with formula – around 60mls. Sitting up all evening or through the night to breastfeed him just wouldn’t work for either of us I’m afraid… And both of us are very happy how we are!

      I also think I might have given up completely if I hadn’t found this workable formula…. Mums need to have pressure taken OFF and be allowed to see what works for them – I’m sorry to say (and I know it wasn’t what you meant) that people who talk about how bad formula is and the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding seem to be saying we aren’t persevering enough, we are being selfish, we should try harder. God knows I’ve tried so hard, and obviously your milk was enough for your baby, but I had to accept I just don’t produce enough milk to satisfy MY child but we’re OK with the solution I’ve found 🙂 I know lots of other mums who didn’t have enough milk in the evening and were made to feel guilty about introducing formula, but I just DON’T agree that having a crying, hungry baby is better than a bottle of formula & satisfied sleep! And I don’t need a medical thesis to tell me that!


      • Fabulous response! Working with new mums every day I have met many in exactly the same situation as you. Formula top ups do help a mother to continue Breastfeeding in cases like yours where they genuinely do not have enough milk. Your baby is getting the best of both worlds-all the breast milk you can physically produce plus top ups of formula to ensure he is not still hungry afterwards.
        It really frustrates me that anti formula mums and professionals heap guilt on other mums who top up with formula. For some it is a choice to combination feed. However for some mums like you, who have supply issues, there is no choice. You are doing the best you can for your baby-which is what all mums try to do. Nobody should make you feel guilty for satisfying him in the best way you can!

      • Hi hon, I will reply properly as it’s important to me that I am clear but in the meantime:

        -There are risks in everything we do
        -I didn’t call anyone lazy nor do I think you are
        -I am not part of any brigade nor do I want to be
        -I have no intention to make you or anyone else feel bad or guilty and honestly don’t think I am responsible for any guilt nor should you feel guilty. What’s “right” is what is right for YOUR family, no need to justify it to anyone.


        • Absolutely agree mums need to find what works for them and as I said initially that will be different for everyone and I have and do support mums who do various different feeding combinations.

          I’ve read lots of articles, blogs, debates on this very topic and I’m afraid the comments do tend to frequently follow a familiar route although most in here are being quite balanced (no commenter called anyone lazy – it was Sasha who said that her MIL was NOT lazy in formula feeding)

          What got to me – and, I suspect, Quiet turtle, was the sentence in the blog (or quote, not sure as not in quotes) saying that formula might one day be “better” than breastmilk. Hence the suggestion of reading the Politics of Breastfeeding. It suggested a lack of balance to me – no offence meant. It’s not the scientific content of formula that most have an issue with – its the unethical behaviour of many formula companies which influences social conscience and undermines the confidence of so many mothers.

          I read the link you put in re a study on length of breastfeeding in those who used top-ups in early days but can’t comment without seeing the full study other than to agree that standard weight loss is between 5-10% and there are so many factors to play in why a mother or family will continue or stop breastfeeding that the statistical adjustments for it being down to only formula top ups would be a challenge to say the least (I say this as someone who studied statistics as part of my degree), it is interesting though.

          Some info on supply as another commenter mentioned also so might be interested – ignore if not.
          Early weeks :

          Milk supply:
          Mother’s prolactin levels are higher in the early hours hence babies feed during the night and this sets up supply – it’s tiring but think back to days when there was nothing to do at night and only food gathering in the day – makes sense that this is when baby settles in for a good feeding session(s). We have moved on from those days but some instincts stick on. If in doubt – wake baby to feed or dreamfeed every 3/4 hours at night and on demand during the day- any squeak sniffle etc- offer.

          It’s normal/ fine for a baby to wake to feed multiple times during the night to feed (for many months) -especially in early weeks when supply is establishing (also sets the tone for breastfeeding supply in a few months)

          Supply can take a few days to catch up with demand.

          “Cholecystokinin (CCK) – In a new born a high level of this hormone makes a baby sleepy and tells him/her he/she’s full and conversly low level to tell him/her he/she’s hungry. After maybe twenty minutes of sucking (not necessarily eating) baby’s level of CCK has risen enough to put him/her to sleep and give him/her a rest from the hard work. About 20 mins after stopping sucking the CCK level falls and baby may wake up convinced he/she has never eaten in his/her life giving a chance to “top off the tank” with renewed energy and the cycle starts again. CCK is a marvelous arrangement that keeps your baby from working to hard too long and PART of a system that helps enure enough foof dor baby , enough production from Mama. Boobs are not warehouse they are production plants, milk is always in production.
          Sucking on a pacifier/dummy releases CCK, too A baby can fall asleep with a pacifier thinking he/she’s been fed but hasn’t and breasts have lost a feeding’s worth or milk removal. REsulst: slower weight gain and lower supply.” From ‘The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding’

          Doing breast compressions (squeezing boob whilst feeding) helps to release fatty milk globules into milk they stick to inside of the ducts and take longer to release otherwise – shoogle/shake gently your boob like a bag of marbles before a feed to mix it up.

          Finally – to any mums wanting support breastfeeding or in preparation for breastfeeding- there are various national and international organisations who specialise in it.
          Support Groups:

          In an intro we use at each of support meetings is that you’ll hear various parenting styles/tips, take what suits you and leave the rest behind – treat it as a buffet.

          I’ll leave it at that.


  12. First off, congratulations on your sweet little baby and on being a brave mum who did what she thought was best! I am really sorry about your early hospital stay with your little one… I know from personal experience how difficult it can be when your child is in hospital, especially when they are so small. Breastfeeding is such an emotional topic for mothers. It’s so easy to fall into a never ending spiral of self-doubt and the advice you get just doesn’t seem right sometimes. I think you’re absolutely right to trust your instinct and I also resent the extremist views of those who are pro-breastfeeding (and also of those who are “against” it). I think there are ideal situations and then there is real life and you have to adapt and do the best you can. I have a 20-month old baby and I’ve been lucky to be able to breastfeed her so far and I am loving it but in some ways it’s been a long road.(

    • I just read my comment again and realised that I should be indeed sleeping more… My baby is 20 weeks old, not months. And I also meant to say the “extremist views of some who are pro-breastfeeding”. Oops!

  13. I suppose as part of the ‘hardcore breastfeeding brigade’, I feel I want to defend myself slightly! As a breastfeeding peer support worker, it is our duty to support Mums who want to establish bfing as well as stop bfing. Unfortunately, there does seem to be an ‘all or nothing’ approach to feeding and mixed feeding definitely has it’s place. The problem is, #1 that we are being labelled as boob extremists when we are just trying to do our best. The most important thing is that the Mums are given the opportunity to have an informed choice and still too often ‘bad advice’ is given out by health professionals in trusted positions. All we try to do (or should be doing) is finding out what kind of bfing experience that Mum wants. Some may get there, others won’t so we have to restructure their new expectations to match with their boobing ability or the baby’s ability.

    Mixed feeding does come with certain risks such as early weaning from the breast. If the Mum is ok with that then brilliant. If not, and it comes as a surprise, then it’s a shame that their experience has been halted early when it could have been avoided. I can’t apologise for the facts and have to offer it in order for that Mum to make an informed decision.

    Lactation Consultants, Infant Feeding Co-ordinators and volunteers like myself, work tirelessly to help and support Mums in all their decisions they make. We can make a real difference and I worry that by continuing the stigma of labelling us as hardcore or extreme means that some Mums who need advice may not seek it due to worries of being pressurised into putting their babies or themselves at risk just for the sake of continuing breastfeeding.

    • Hi there

      Thanks for your comment. I just have to say my experience of midwives / lactation experts is that they push exclusive breastfeeding. You sound like I had a CHOICE with whether or not to mixed feed and that is just not true – my baby dictated for me! Had I not topped up with formula, he would be hungry and crying, and I just didn’t have the luxury of time to wait to see if my milk supply would increase – he was screaming for a full belly before he slept and I did what I could with breastfeeding but then topped up when I saw he wasn’t satisfied.

      Had I not mixed fed, then I suspect I would have seen how unhappy he was and given up entirely. My point is mums should not be made to feel guilty if they have to top up – some of the comments here suggest I don’t realize how bad formula is and could have bf if I wanted to, that I should persevere. This just isn’t true – my baby is hungry, I am human and just don’t have enough milk to satisfy him in the evening.

      This is not just my experience but that of lots of mums I know – I wonder why mixed feeding isn’t suggested to women whose babies scream all evening – SURELY having a stressed baby and a stressed mummy CANNOT be better than a little bit of formula!

      I just think mums should be trusted that they KNOW when their babies are still hungry and you guys should realize that mixed feeding, in the right circumstances, just might make bfing last for longer!

      On days where he cried all evening I genuinely thought of throwing in the towel. By introducing formula, I woke up the next morning, rested and with full boobs, ready to feed a happy, well rested baby. And I didn’t give up.

      By the way, I know your intention is not to make people feel guilty and I know you work so hard and mean the best so I’m not attacking you at all! I just get frustrated at the pressure put on other mums to bf when they know in their hearts its not working.

      For those mums that have enough milk for their babies – good on them! I just know I don’t quite have enough – my boy’s daddy is 6 foot 2 and his grandad 6 foot 7 – I’m a little 5 foot 5er so no wonder I can’t quite keep up! x

      • I also think you have missed my point and I have obviously made you feel like you have to defend your position which was not my intention at all.

        Before I trained in becoming a peer supporter (and to become a fully fledged Lactation Consultant can take years, it’s such a big subject!), I thought I understood the logistics and problems with breastfeeding from my two, very different personal experiences. In the small amount of training I have done, I realised I got many, many things wrong and am grateful I am now in a position to put right the bad advice or misinformation I was given, or give out correct advice based on research not anecdote (and I’m not talking about formula vs boob, I’m talking about logistics like positioning and attachment and milk supply, for example.)

        Mixed feeding is a very valid way of feeding and in this current environment of media pressure for mums to be everything to all people, return to work quickly, get their figures back, still satisfy their husbands and put make up on every day (of which I achieve approximately 14% of that), it is a way to relieve the pressure of exclusive breastfeeding. I mixed my Son for a number of different reasons.

        I also completely agree that a mother’s instinct is the best instinct.

        The point I just wanted to make, is that most of us (I have to say most because it will never be all, sadly) do want what is best for mother and baby and if a mum thinks she is suffering from low milk supply, then to try and seek help and advice. There is a whole host of reasons why babies get the symptoms you describe, some of which do require a trained professional to help with and self diagnosing may result in a less than hoped for boobing experience, which in itself can take it’s toll on a mum’s already fragile, knackered and hormonal mind.

  14. Pingback: On boobs and bottles | From here to maternity

  15. I could not agree more! It really helps no one to demonise formula when sometimes (often) it really is a saviour. I think far more women would continue breastfeeding for longer if breastfeeding advisers and midwives would encourage mixed feeding.

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