Saturday, April 16, 2011

To supplement with formula, or not? That is the question

I've been having some serious thoughts of adding formula to Cupcake's diet.  Which is difficult for me, because I've been staunchly against it. The La Leche League people really did a number on me.

The thing is, a few days ago she had her first bottle of formula ever, and the world didn't collapse like I expected it to. I've run out of pumped reserves.  I'm at a loss.  My milk supply has stabilized to the point that the only times I have extra milk to spare is in the middle of the night.  So a couple of nights per week, I get up after Cupcake's 2 am and 6 am feeds and pump the other side.  Not a sustainable system, I know.

We've managed to only consume what I was storing until the last migraine.  (I should share at this point that my migraine medication is not compatible with breastfeeding.  So for 12 hours, I have to give Cupcake bottles, while I pump-n-dump.)  So the other day, when I was feeling like doodoo and had to take my meds, we had no choice but to give Cupcake some of the emergency formula we had stashed around. 

To my utter surprise, I was okay with this decision.  I think it's because I made it to to 6 months exclusively breastfeeding.  And a pat in the back to me, it was no easy task.  I am so glad we struggled through it, as it's been an incredibly rewarding experience.  At this point the weaning process has already started, because she's exploring solids.  So while I want to keep breastfeeding for a year, the idea of giving her formula here and there doesn't feel as tragic. 

Lo and behold, Cupcake took it with no problem.  I'm lucky that if  I'm gonna have an FOD child, at least she's one of those kids that seems to eat whatever is in front of her.  And heartily.  Formula, bottled breast milk, mashed bananas, pureed veggies, they are all good. 

So now I'm at the weird place where I'm wondering if we should start giving her a bottle of formula for her 3 am feed. It would be easier for all of us to just give her a dream-feed bottle while she's still in her crib. (Yes, her oral hygiene be damn*d, at this point we have more important metabolic things to worry about.)  And it would take some of the pressure away from me, as Nate could give her milk half the nights.

I struggle with this, because I know that giving formula on a regular basis can affect my milk supply.   And I love breastfeeding.  I really do.  I cherish being able to provide for my own kid, and feel very lucky that we were successful with it.  What if I end up compromising my supply?  What if she ends up weaning to formula against my wishes?

I don't want to sabotage my breastfeeding.  I also need a break. Then again, it's only a few more months until she's drinking cow's milk, so maybe I should just tough it out for 5 more months.  I have a feeling that I'm going to go back and forth with this, and by the time I make a decision, it'll be almost the 1 year mark and it will be a non-issue.  Or so I hope, at least.


  1. Funny I had the same feeling when the doctor asked me to replace a feeding with formula for bilirubin reasons. I dreaded it and after it happened it wasn't as earth shattering as I expected it to be. It seems to me as an FOD mom that we deserve a break as guilty as it feels. (I suffer from horrible mommy guilt) If it helps you and she is mainly getting breastmilk I say go for it. I haven't been giving my little guy a bottle every night just some nights.

  2. Thanks! I think sometimes we just look for permission to do the things that we know are best for the overall family family, right? I'm also glad to hear that you've given your baby a bottle some nights and your milk supply didn't shatter.

    I really think the lactation people overreact too much sometimes. I need to have better perspective.