Many new moms enter parenthood with the belief that breastfeeding is an all or nothing process. Child birth classes, lactation consultants, books, and websites will teach you almost everything you need to know about exclusive breastfeeding, but there are very few resources shouting the benefits of supplementing with formula. Is it because there are none? Absolutely not.
Information on formula feeding and supplementing with formula often feels as though it is given begrudgingly, as only a worst-case-scenario option. But the truth is that there are benefits to supplementing with formula, and for some families exclusively formula feeding works best. Today's formula is as close as ever to recreating breast milk, which is comforting for parents who choose this as an option because they cannot produce their own milk. It is also encouraging for women who would like to supplement, but feel guilty about it.
If you are breastfeeding, but are considering introducing formula to replace some feedings, this is known as partial weaning according to Kelly Mom. Partial weaning allows you to continue to nurse, but also gives you some of the flexibility afforded by formula feeding. Breast feeding doesn't have to be all or nothing. It can be done most of the time, half of the time, or even some of the time depending on your particular situation.
If you would like to begin supplementing your baby's feeding with infant formula, here are some benefits you may not have considered.
According to Kelly Mom, supplementing with formula can be a good thing for moms who are ready to stop pumping at work. Partially weaning during work hours involves your baby drinking formula while you're away and nursing when you're together. Because your body will adjust your supply according to your nursing patterns, moms who aren't supplementing with bottled breast milk don't have to worry abut pumping at work.
Some nursing mamas can become overwhelmed with round-the-clock feeding and pumping. This can lead to them giving up on breastfeeding altogether. Very Well suggested that supplementing one or two feedings with formula can make nursing more manageable and allow you to continue to breastfeed longer.
Supplementing with formula can make a mom's already hectic life slightly more flexible, according to Kids Health From Nemours. If your baby takes the occasional bottle of formula, you don't have to plan your activities and obligations around your feeding or pumping schedule. Some moms don't produce enough supply to have loads of frozen breast milk, so those who travel for work can feel confident that her baby will always have enough to eat while she's away.
Breast milk digests more quickly than formula, so breastfed babies tend to nurse more often according to Kids Health From Nemours. A bottle of formula before bed may mean that your baby (and you) can get an extra hour or two of rest before the next feeding.
Pumped breast milk needs to be stored at specific temperatures, and thawed and warmed in particular ways. Although not impossible for your partner to handle, having a baby who will take a bottle of formula can make the on-the-go experience for the non-nursing parent a lot easier. Powdered formula requires no refrigeration and can be mixed with room temperature bottled water.
Moms who experience medical conditions that cause low milk supply such as previous breast surgery or hypothyroidism can continue to nurse, but make sure their baby receives enough to eat by also supplementing with formula according to Very Well. Again, it doesn't have to be all or nothing.
Breastfeeding is not only about nutrition, but about comfort and attachment. Some moms may be ready to fully wean, and may want to introduce formula to start preparing their baby for the day they will no longer be nursing. Babies who are accustomed to the bottle and the taste of formula may have an easier time weaning.