If you've decided to breastfeed your baby, you've probably realized that it's not always easy as the books made it seem. Struggling with a latch issue, a tongue tie, or an inadequate supply can make breastfeeding seem like a huge challenge, especially if the latter causes you to supplement. Although there's nothing wrong with formula, it's normal to feel disappointed that your supply is low and that you have to turn to bottles to make sure your baby is getting enough nutrition. Luckily, if you know how to supplement without hurting your supply, you may be able to put the bottles away for good.
Even though supplementation may be medically necessary for your little one to make sure they're gaining weight and thriving, KellyMom notes that the act of supplementing can actually cause a low milk supply. Your breasts make milk as your baby needs it, which means the more often your baby eats, the more milk your body makes. It's basic supply and demand. So when you replace a breastfeeding session with a bottle, you're giving your body the signal that it doesn't need to produce any milk for that feeding. And when you supplement a few bottles a day? It adds up.
According to La Leche League International, if you want to make sure that supplementation doesn't interfere with breastfeeding, you should make sure your baby is already nursing well. If your baby has had problems trying to nurse before, supplementing can continue that issue as your little one may find it easier to eat from a bottle than your breast.
But once breastfeeding is established and you add in supplementation, the best way to keep your milk supply from being affected is to make sure you're expressing milk every time you supplement. For some, that means pumping to replace the feeding session your baby missed because of the bottle. For others, that means combining supplementation with breastfeeding by offering both the breast and the bottle. According to Today's Parent, breastfeeding after supplementing may actually be easier as your baby will be satisfied and more willing to try to suckle for breast milk rather than getting frustrated.
Remember, the more milk you remove from your breasts, the more your body will produce. By pumping or feeding as you supplement, you can keep your supply up while making sure your baby gets everything they need.