Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

9 Things Only Moms Who Combo-Feed Actually Know

Ad failed to load

I always planned on breastfeeding my babies. Exclusively. Like most moms, I thought "breast was best" and even "one bottle" of formula would ruin my chances of nursing. When I had my first baby, and didn't make enough breast milk, I switched to formula believing that was my only option. But when my second baby was born, and I had undersupply again, my lactation consultant recommended combo-feeding. I could, in fact, feed my baby breast milk and formula. So on the list of things only moms who combo-feed actually know, the fact that you can have, and enjoy, the best of both words is somewhere toward the top.

I can't emphasize how life-changing it was to learn that combo-feeding is not only a thing, but something that most breastfeeding moms do. It turns out that for a variety of reasons — like undersupply, latch issues, work barriers, time, mental health, physical health, convenience, and to enjoy a damn break once in a while — many moms have found combo-feeding to be a good fit for their families. Who knew, right?

So, fortunately and thanks to combo-feeding, I was able to get help, ditch all that unrealistic advice, discover what did work for me and my baby, and redefine my breastfeeding goals. I got to breastfeed my son, which both of us loved, and I was eventually able to ditch the pump and not worry so much about the ounces I was able to produce during the work day. Most importantly, I was able to feed my baby as much as he wanted when he was hungry, and not have him cry at my breast or lose weight when I didn't make enough breast milk.

Ad failed to load

And In the end, and while combo-feeding was not at all what I planned on experiencing, I wouldn't change a thing about how I chose to feed my babies. If you are a new mom or mom-to-be, and want to give combo-feeding a try, read on for a few combo-feeding secrets, learned through experience, to can give you little bit of a head-start.

Ad failed to load

It's Actually A Thing


I had no idea that combo-feeding was a thing. None. Zip. Zero. I went to two breastfeeding classes, had a ton of friends who breastfed, and read every book about breastfeeding I could get my hands on, and still thought breastfeeding was an all or nothing deal. Why?

Registered nurse, board-certified lactation consultant, and co-founder of the Fed is Best Foundation Jody Segrave-Daly thinks she knows why. Segrave-Daly told Romper, via a phone interview, the following:

"Families are not taught about combo-feeding because exclusive breastfeeding is the focus of infant feeding. Because combo-feeding hasn't been studied, we don't know how much it might impact supply, but plans can be developed for each unique feeding situation and can be started immediately after birth. It's a great option for many families and should be taught along with formula-feeding in all prenatal infant feeding classes."

A Lot Of Breastfeeding Moms Do It

I loved combo-feeding and it's ability to give me the best of both worlds, and it turns out that a lot of other moms do, too. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 80 percent of breastfeeding moms also feed their babies formula. That number seems shocking, considering how we, as a culture, talk about breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding. But now that I've combo-fed my babies, I don't see that as a breastfeeding failure or anything out of the ordinary. In fact, I view combo-feeding as a breastfeeding success.

In a world where exclusive breastfeeding is not possible or realistic for many American parents, because they can't make enough breast milk or are among the one-in-four working mothers who have to go back to work two weeks after their babies are born, combo-feeding is a great way to continue breastfeeding your baby.

Using Formula Doesn't Mean You Have To Stop Breastfeeding


I wish I would have known about combo-feeding from the very beginning of my motherhood journey, and especially when my daughter was a newborn and I struggled to breastfeed her. Instead, I thought that since I couldn't (and would never be able to) breastfeed exclusively, I had to switch to formula full-time.

Turns out, I am not alone in assuming I have to pick "one or the other" when it comes to breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. Segrave-Daly told Romper the following:

"Mothers tell me they are furious to learn they could have successfully combo-feed their babies, but instead stopped breastfeeding because they weren't informed. In our support group, many mothers tell me they will consider combo-feeding their next child, now that they know it's an option."
Ad failed to load

It Can Be Way Less Stressful Than Exclusive Breastfeeding

Imagine being able to breastfeed your baby, because you want to and enjoy it, but not having to worry about what is or is not coming out of your boobs. That's what combo-feeding was like for me. I pumped at work for a while, but was able to add formula when I didn't make enough milk to meet the needs of my baby. And when I wanted to stop pumping, because it literally sucked? Yeah, I just dropped those sessions and had my day care provider give my baby formula during the day. I was still able to nurse nights, mornings, and weekends. It was a great balance for me and my babies.

It Can Mean More Sleep


When you are a new mom, you learn that sleep is life. Yes, literally life itself. But when you're a new mom you also learn that sleep can be pretty impossible to come by. So, what if I told you that you could replace a middle-of-the-night breastfeed session with a bottle of formula or pumped milk, given by your partner or spouse? Yeah, I did this for eight months after my second child was born, and got way more sleep than I did when I tried to breastfeed exclusively.

It Can Help You Ditch The Breastfeeding Guilt

Breastfeeding — or more accurately, my inability to breastfeed exclusively — was the source of so much of my new mom guilt. Then, thankfully, I discovered combo-feeding. I was able to set realistic and achievable goals for breastfeeding, and let go of at least some of my breastfeeding guilt.

Ad failed to load

There's More Than One Way To Combo-Feed


Now that I've combo-fed my babies and openly discussed my experience, I've met so many other moms who decided to do the same. We all made it work in different ways and at different times in our infant-feeding journeys. While I chose to supplement with formula after nursing to "top off" my baby's feeds, other moms give their babies a formula appetizer, followed by a breastfeeding main course. I also know moms who decided to replace work-day feeds with formula, and nurse exclusively at home. Then there are the moms who decided to replace a nighttime meal with formula so they can get more sleep.

Like most everything in parenting, combo-feeding can mean different set-ups for different families.

It Can Take Some Trial & Error

I found that most conventional breastfeeding resources don't even mention combo-feeding, let alone provide tips or tricks on how to get started. I ended up having to figure things out on my own, which is a severely unfair ask of a new, exhausted mom. One nice thing about combo-feeding, though, is that you custom-make a plan for your life and can change it as your life changes.

It Can Be The Best Of Both Worlds


As a new mom, I thought that supplementing with formula meant I couldn't continue breastfeeding. Now I know that's definitely not the case. I am so glad I learned that combo-feeding was a thing, and that it would give me and my family some of the best parts of formula and breastfeeding, with a little less guilt and stress.

While I've heard more than a few comments from breastfeeding moms about me not being a "real breastfeeder," whatever that means, I try not to let them bother me. Motherhood is not a competition, and I am relatively sure they just don't know how magical combo-feeding can be.

Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills