I have been exclusively breastfeeding Honey Nut since the start, but always intended to move to formula eventually, especially if I felt I wasn’t coping. The good news is that it was alright in the end, and I exclusively breastfed for 3 months. But there were times in those 3 months where I felt like I wish I could give her a bottle of formula every now and then, just to have a little break.
Upon much googling, I couldn’t find many tips on how to actually move to combination feeding, just articles about the pros and cons. So I thought I’d write how I did it, hopefully it will help anyone in the same boat as me.
With Honey Nut at 20 weeks, I can now say I’m an established part-time breastfeeder, with her having 3 bottles of formula in the day from 10am – 6pm, and all other feeds between 6pm – 10am being breastmilk. The amazing thing is how I’ve trained my boobs to make milk when I need it, so there’s no leaking in the day, and I can go out wearing my pretty dresses like I used to and feel at ease feeding Honey Nut with a bottle of formula when we’re out and about.
So how did I do it?
When Honey Nut was 12 weeks, I decided to give her 1 bottle of formula every now and then. It wasn’t every day, and it wasn’t at the same time each day. I thought one missed breastfeed every now and then won’t make a difference right? Wrong! I was leaking all over the place, my boobs were making too much milk at different times, basically my body got confused! So don’t do this.
Instead, choose one feed that you want to swap for formula and stick to this every day. This way your boobs will stop making milk for this feed and you won’t be leaking so much.
After 2 weeks of one formula feed, I moved to 2 bottles.
When Honey Nut was 16 weeks I made the decision to move to 3 bottles of formula so that all daytime feeds were formula. This was actually encouraged by my health visitor too. I would make a 5oz bottle of formula at 10am, 1pm and 4pm. And pretty much straightaway my body adjusted. My boobs made no milk in the day and I had no leaks. I even stopped needing to use breastpads in my bra. And then at 5.30pm, I could literally feel my boobs making milk, ready for 6pm. It was the weirdest feeling, but amazing that our bodies can do this! Now I don’t notice it, but that’s still what happens.
Honey Nut is now 20 weeks and I have moved on to three 6oz bottles of formula. Sometimes she drinks less, sometimes she drains the whole bottle, but it’s better to make too much formula than too little. The times are roughly 10am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm. Then I breastfeed her in the evening, for nightfeeds (yes she’s back having 2 or 3 nightfeeds – wah!), and then the morning feeds at 6.30/7.30am.
So that is how I moved from exclusively breastfeeding to combination breastfeeding and formula feeding. It shows you don’t have to do either one or the other, you can do both and have the best of both worlds. I love feeling free in the day, and I love the warm cuddles with her when I’m nursing her back in the comfort of my home.
If you are thinking of making the move, this is how I suggest you do it:
- Do it after your baby is at least 6 weeks as you want to establish breastfeeding first. I chose 12 weeks personally.
- Swap 1 feed for formula for the first week and do this at the same time every day. This is to avoid your boobs getting engorged and having leakages everywhere!
- Gradually move to 2 feeds being swapped to formula, and then 3 feeds being swapped for formula, and choose the same times every day. This is so your boobs know not to make milk at these times.
- Breastfeed at the same times every day also, so your boobs know to make milk at these times. I chose to breastfeed from 6pm in the evenings, and do the last breastfeed in the morning at 7/8am
As soon as I moved to formula, even though I was still breastfeeding, my hair started falling out and my periods started, like my body knew I was part time – so be prepared for that! My hair is falling out all over the place, it’s terrible. That’s the only down side, but apart from that I am glad I made the move, it’s made some sort of routine for Honey Nut that I hadn’t had before as I was responsive feeding.
I’d also like to say, it doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, breastfeeding, formula or both, whatever makes your life manageable, as long as baby is fed.
I hope this helps anyone thinking of making the move.