Here is a summary of terms Balanced Breastfeeding uses to discuss all the different ways that mamas breastfeeding their babies:

Nursing or “directly breastfeeding” = feeding your baby directly at your breast.

Breastfeeding = providing breastmilk to your baby either through nursing or pumping and bottle feeding.

Hybrid feeding = nursing and supplementing with formula or expressed breastmilk because you don’t make enough milk.

Exclusive Pumping = exclusively pumping out your breastmilk and feeding it to your baby via bottle. 

and finally:

Doing both = nursing and bottle feeding expressed breastmilk by choice.

“Doing both” is what I am going to talk about today.

It seems that there is a lot of judgement about why a woman pumps and bottle feeds her baby rather than directly breastfeeding. It seems that it is okay for a mother to pump and bottle feed if baby won’t or can’t latch on. It seems to be okay if mom is separated from the baby for any reason. It seems to be okay for a mom to pump and bottle feed if her nipples are so sore that she needs to take a break.

But it doesn’t seem to be okay for a mom to pump and bottle feed simply because she wants to.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information and advice on this topic, so let’s fix that.

Sometimes you may just want to bottle feed your baby or have someone else bottle feed your baby for you. As a breastfeeding mom, you certainly have the right and the option to do this without feeling guilty or nervous that it will harm your breastfeeding relationship.

Before I explain how to “do both” and not jeopardize breastfeeding, I first want you to ask yourself an honest question.

Why are you pumping and bottle feeding instead of breastfeeding? If you can honestly tell me it is purely by choice, then by all means, read on.

But, if you are really honest with yourself, are you doing it because you are afraid? Afraid baby isn’t getting enough because you can’t see how much she is getting? Afraid because it feels like you are the only person who can feed this baby and that pressure feels suffocating at times?

Do you feel anxious when you sit still for too long? Do you feel like you should be doing more than just sitting on the couch?

It is okay if you feel afraid or anxious. Acknowledge those feelings. Acknowledge that sometimes you need to have someone else feed the baby so you can be sure you still have your freedom. Acknowledge that you are afraid the baby isn’t getting enough to eat and seek help from a really good lactation consultant and let her show you whether this is a justified fear.

But don’t ignore the fear. Listen to it and learn from it. It may be guiding you toward safety, for fear is your mama bear.

Don’t ignore the anxiety and speed up the process every time by pumping and bottle feeding. For the first time in your life, you may be given the gift of slowing down. Because, no matter what, you don’t want to rush this precious time.

Now, if you want to “do both,” here are some critical guidelines you must understand.

  1. Supply and Demand is still in effect and it is really important when you are skipping breastfeeding to bottle feed. For every direct breastfeeding session you skip, there must be a corresponding pump at some point within a 24 hour period.
  2. “Doing both” is not supplementing with formula. That is “Hybrid Feeding.” It is totally cool if you do that, just understand there are different rules for you. Using formula when you are “doing both” is a slippery slope toward breastfeeding failure if not done properly.
  3. You need to know how to properly bottle feed your baby and how much to bottle feed your baby. So does whomever else is watching your baby.
  4. Don’t feel guilty or like less of a breastfeeding mother. Make the decision to do both and own it.

Just looking to pump for an occasional bottle? You can find more info on that here.