There is no doubt that the best food for a baby is breast milk. Breast milk provides babies with a perfect composition of all the nutrients they specifically need.
However, sometimes certain factors can make it difficult for mums to breastfeed their baby. At times, your baby may not be able to latch properly onto your breast, while at other times, your body may not be producing enough milk. Several mums introduce formula milk into the baby's diet because they have to return to work. No matter what the reason, mixed feeding or supplementation is a perfectly safe way to give your baby the required nutrition.
Reasons to start supplementing with formula:
Supplementing as a medical need - Your milk does not come in immediately after childbirth. It can take several days. While that is completely fine if you have a healthy baby, babies born with jaundice will need hydration to flush it out of their bodies. At such time, you may need to supplement through formula milk until you can support the baby on breast milk alone. Paediatricians also recommend mixed feeding if the baby's weight is low.
Low milk supply - Quite often, mums can experience problems with milk supply. It is common if you have thyroid issues or low body weight. Chronic illnesses and recent breast surgeries can also interfere with the breastfeeding process. Under such circumstances, you may need to opt for supplementation.
Medications or multiple babies - Certain medications can prevent mums from breastfeeding their babies effectively. You can try pumping to keep a steady supply, while formula feeding to meet your baby's needs. Having twins or multiple babies can make it hard for you to breastfeed exclusively. This is where supplementation can help you out.
Things to consider when supplementing:
Supplementation with formula requires a lot of decisions. You need to know where to begin, which formula to use and how much to feed your baby. Consultation with a paediatrician, GP or your lactation consultant can help in this process. Other things you can discuss are how you can boost your milk supply and how long to supplement with formula.
Mixed feeding can bring some changes in the colour and consistency of your bub's poo. Your baby can also quickly develop a preference for the bottle as it is easier to feed on the bottle. Cutting down on breastfeeding can result in your breasts overfilling. You can breast pump at this point to increase milk supply and cut back on the formula. During this time, keep in mind that the age of your baby, frequency of breastfeeding and frequency of pumping to increase supply can affect the process of cutting back on formula.
Which formula is best for the baby?
Several brands of milk formula are present in the market, which can make it difficult to choose between them. A lot of mums feel confused and overwhelmed by the choices. Some infant milk formulas are designed to be similar to breast milk. The prebiotics and lutein in the formula keep your baby's poo soft and make it easier to digest.
Most parents in Australia prefer using milk formula that is iron-fortified and milk-based. You can choose an organic milk formula that has no antibodies, hormones or synthetic pesticides, and is free from any form of genetic modification.
However, such a formula can be more expensive. If you want to counter the expense, choose to go for mixed feeding, and eventually increase breast milk supply to breastfeed your baby exclusively. Regardless of the choices you make, remember that as a mum, you're capable of making the best choices for your little one.