Breastfeeding doesn't have to be all or nothing 
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All or Nothing?

If you have not been able to pump enough milk for your baby, you've tried every trick on the supply-boosting page, and it's just not working for you, and you're ready to throw in the towel - take heart! Breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing thing. You are not going to be thrown out of the breastfeeding club if you occasionally give a bottle of formula. Remember that breastmilk is a wonderful, nutritious food for your baby - and it has benefits no matter how much you get.

I like to compare this to adult food. We know that we really should be eating healthy, organic, whole grain foods. But if we can't always get a good lunch and occasionally eat at McDonalds, does that mean we have to give up on healthy food entirely? Do we need to eat at McDonalds every single meal?? No - of course not. And just because your baby gets a little formula, doesn't mean you can't keep breastfeeding for as long as you want to.

Can't pump enough? If you're not able to pump enough, you may be tempted to give up pumping - but I would encourage you to keep it up, even if you're getting very little milk. Pumping during the day helps keep up your milk supply, and lets you breastfeed more on the days when you are with your baby. This means less time mixing bottles when you're home, and more of that special closeness with your baby. Be sure you've looked through the Supply Boosting tips to see if there's an idea you hadn't thought of.

Hate pumping? If you just hate pumping, if you resent the intrusions into your day - try this: give up one pumping session at a time. Give yourself permission to give one bottle of formula a day, and cut out your least productive session. Just doing that may take off enough pressure that you feel better about the whole experience. I believe in making changes gradually, so there's always the opportunity to turn back if you're not happy with your choice.

Tricks to supplementing smartly
If you do end up supplementing with formula, try to keep the amount you give constant, and encourage as much breastfeeding as possible. For each feeding, offer the breast first before a bottle so that your breasts keep getting the stimulation to make more milk. Even better, limit the bottle-feedings to times when your baby gets a bottle when you are at work, and offer the breast at all other times.

Supplementing can be a slippery slope - it will seem like your baby starts to gradually need more and more supplementing if you're not careful. If this starts to happen, you can increase the amount you are pumping, or just refuse to give more bottles when you are home. Your baby will go through a period of wanting to nurse frequently - but this is a good thing! Frequent nursing increases your milk supply. You may want to spend weekend mornings lying around in bed with your baby with your shirt open - get away from the idea of "feedings" as individual events that happen at certain times, and just let your baby spend half a day snacking.

And most of all - remember - your baby will not be a baby for long. Even if breastfeeding and pumping seem like a hassle, soon your baby will be walking, talking and eating table food, and these infant-days will all seem like a blur. I've never met anyone who breastfed for any length of time and regretted it. Most mothers, when you ask them, will say they wish they'd breastfed longer. You'll look back and be proud of yourself for overcoming obstacles to provide the very best for your baby.

Now - get back to work!


Copyrightę 2005 Kirsten Berggren. All Rights Reserved.