One of my biggest dilemmas was how would I continue breastfeeding once I returned to work. I didn't want to "stock pile" milk, it was too much to think about on top of being a new mom. I also wasn't using my pump early on because I didn't want to overproduce. So before James was born I did tons of research on Supplementing with formula, my top googled item was literally "supplementing with formula". I figured that would be my best option. However there really isn't much out there on tips, if you join a community board and ask for opinions you will be chastised because "how dare you not want to breastfed your son!" So I want to share our supplementing experience with you in hopes that you have other options if your faced with the same dilemma as me.
How we Implemented:
We first introduced a bottle to James like a week before I went back to work. We started with breast milk to get him used to a bottle, then switched to formula. We actually had zero problems in this department, he just likes to eat, he doesn't mind the means by which it happens lol
What about engorgement?
Everyone/everywhere warned me that I wouldn't be able to make it through a work day because I would become engorged and be in too much pain. While that was true early on, it is no longer an issue. Your body actually regulates your milk and the pains of "feeling full" go away after the first few weeks, I think I stopped "feeling full" around 2 months. To combat it in the early months I did have to pump while at work. I would go to my car around lunch and pump as much as possible. This helped me make it through the day for the early weeks. After a while I was no longer getting anything when I pumped because my body regulated so I was able to stop.
How will it affect your supply?
You will loose your day supply, but I breastfeed whenever possible to get my supply up. One missed feeding here and there won't affect your supply so I try to breastfeed him on the weekends as close to 100%. I feel like this really helps keep my supply up since I can't feed on demand during the week.
What are some benefits of Supplementing?
James is hungry all of the time. If I hadn't had the backup of formula I am not sure how I would have made it through the day. Sometimes I try breastfeeding over and over and he is still fussy so then we can give him a 4oz bottle and I can keep my sanity. It is also really nice when we go out to have a bottle backup just in case, I always breastfeed him before we leave, but just in case. It is also really nice that other people can feed him, like his aunts or grandparents or dad. It is nice for me and they really enjoy it!
Be Confident in your Choice
It was kind of scary to start formula feeding. I was afraid of the judgement from others when I whipped out my formula in public. If it was an ideal world I would breastfeed 100%. Now that I have done it I totally understand the bond and benefit for my son, and all my early worries went away as soon as he was born :) It took me a little while to get over the hump of being embarrassed of formula feeding. I know I have my son's best interests in heart when I made the decision, and looking back I know it was the best decision for us. I have been able to continue breastfeeding longer that I had ever thought. And even though James is used to formula, when I pick him up after work he is always ready for "mommy time." Which reassures me I made the right decision and he still prefers breastfeeding when around mom. The other thing that has helped is knowing that more people use formula than I thought. I have had plenty of people discuss feeding their babies and saying they gave formula and even in this day of all of these "loud" exclusive breastfeeders it is nice to know I am not alone in formula feeding. I always have to remind myself the internet is full of trolls lol and I have made the right decision for me and James.
I wish I could have read about other peoples positive experiences before James was born so I could have been more confident from the beginning, rather than reading over and over it wouldn't work, we had to choose one or the other. Almost 5 months in and we are still going strong!
Update: I have had a few people tell me how helpful this post was to them, if you find this helpful id love for you to share it! Also its been close to 6 months and we are still going strong, this is longer than I ever thought Id be able to breastfeed!