To top-up with formula or not?
As a breastfeeding mama I’m sure by now you’ve wondered – “is my baby getting enough?” and “should I top him/her up with a bottle?” It is not uncommon to feel this way, particularly if you had a premature baby who needed early feeding support or if you have a history of low supply.
In the first four weeks of your baby’s life, your body responds to the number of times your baby breastfeeds, aiming to provide a supply that matches demand. Following these 4-6 weeks, your body establishes this supply-demand pattern, and your breastmilk production every 24 hours remains reasonably stable.
By introducing top-up bottles of formula, you are effectively telling your body whatever milk bub removed at the breastfeed was enough and no need to produce more. This begins a vicious cycle, as this will decrease your supply over time which in turn, requires more and more supplemental feeds.
Signs your baby is receiving enough breastmilk:
- Gulping and swallowing while breastfeeding
- Producing frequent wet nappies daily
- Baby settles following feeds
- Gaining weight as to be expected for age
With regards to baby’s weight, it is important to remember, your baby will lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first week following birth. After 4-5 days, they should begin regaining weight until they are back to birth weight by 10-14 days of age. Following this, they should continue to gain weight, not lose.
If you do not notice any of the above and you are concerned, here are a few solutions to improve your breastfeeds first, instead of just topping up with formula:
- Check your baby’s attachment – ensure they are productive and suck/swallows evident.
- Demand feeding – Instead of implementing a feeding schedule, allow your baby to breastfeed whenever they demand.
- Avoid dummies – these may hide feeding cues essential to demand feeding.
Whilst breastfeeding is not an exact science, and in the early days there is often trial and error – once your supply settles and baby’s weight stabilises, there is much improvement.
Written by Keryn Thompson, RM & IBCLC (L-301766)
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