When my first child was born I went into postpartum thinking that breastfeeding would just happen. My body was "made for it" so It shouldn't take much effort. Right? WRONG! I found myself a few days in with a jaundiced baby not latching well, needing more than I had to give, and doctors who told me I needed to supplement. I was shocked and dismayed. As a first-time mom, formula felt like a dirty word. Formula felt like failure.
I was determined to fix the situation and started pumping 12 times a day, taking a god-awful concoction of brewers yeast and black strap molasses and nursing with a contraption taped to my boob that basically fed my infant formula through a straw while he maybe got a teeny, tiny minuscule amount of breast milk from me.
Nothing worked and I found myself with super chapped nipples, gaining weight from drinking molasses three times a day and feeling depressed and bad about myself. So after three months of putting myself through the ringer both mentally and physically, I stopped breastfeeding.
The good news is that my little guy is happy and healthy—regardless of much more formula than breast milk. I knew I'd done everything I could to get him the most milk I had to give. Sadly, however it came at the price of enjoying life while my son was little.
When I got pregnant again, I decided to try to breastfeed again, but was determined not to torture myself if the same situation occurred. As luck would have it, my girl was a chunker at birth, and, while my supply was much better than it was before, I just couldn't keep up with her hunger.
For me, a combination of both has helped me relax and enjoy nursing my little one while she is still little.
So back on the supplementing/pumping cycle I went. I didn't want to give up on nursing completely and knew if I continued giving bottles of formula she'd nurse less and I'd lose the supply I had. I felt myself getting stressed again.
Something needed to give.
So, through some trial and error I came up with a hack that allowed me to make sure my girl was good and full while also nursing as much as possible. I like to call this plan the Nursing Sandwich.
Here's how it works:
1. Begin each feeding by nursing your baby on both sides. Try to make sure Baby completely empties both breasts.
2. If Baby is not content and still seems hungry, offer an ounce or two of formula. Pay attention to Baby's body language to stop eating. Don't force feed or encourage to finish the bottle if Baby doesn't seem interested or turns away.
3. Change diaper, play and spend time with baby while he/she is awake.
4. Nurse again to sleep. Preferably both sides if possible.
This method might sound simple and maybe everyone who struggles with supply issues already does this. But for me, it was life-changing. I feel like my baby girl is getting all the milk she can from me and I'm able to keep my supply because of the frequency and length that I nurse.
I can rest easy knowing that she's not hungry by offering a bottle when I have nothing left to give. True, feedings take a long time, but I'd much rather be spending that time snuggling my newborn than in a room alone depressed and being milked by a machine.
In the end, I'm a firm believer that while "breast is best," formula-fed kiddos turn out just as great as well. For me, a combination of both has helped me relax and enjoy nursing my little one while she is still little. Because this time around one thing I do know for sure is that this precious time really does go by in the blink of an eye.
And I intend on not missing another second of it.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a lactation consultant or medical professional. My thoughts and opinions are my own and not intended as medical advice.