When Breastfeeding Isn’t Enough

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I wanted to write this post because I know how much us moms beat ourselves up. We want the best for our babies. The best products, child care, nourishment. We obsess over the parenting choices we make and when it doesn’t work out the way we planned it can be kind of devastating. This is what happened to me recently when I had to stop breastfeeding my son much earlier than I had originally wanted to.

From basically the hour my son was born he was a breastfeeding pro. He latched on before we even got moved to postpartum and the nurses were amazed at how well he was eating. I was feeling pretty dang good about this teamwork we had going on. Hi five little man! It was a bit more of a challenge with my first born.

This kid was all about eating from day one. We got on a decent schedule early on and I was so happy. This mom thing was feeling a lot easier the second time around.

Favorite Breastfeeding Products

There is a few breastfeeding products that I absolutely could not have lived without.

You know, when you are a mom to a newborn or young infant and you are EXHAUSTED even small helpful things make such a huge difference.

I had this nursing cover and it. was. amazing! It can be used for a car seat canopy and a scarf. The material is stretchy and soft too. Seriously, I have no idea how I made it though my breastfeeding my first child without it.

I just got a plain boppy like this and then ordered a super cute cover for it on etsy. I literally used this every time I breastfed at home because it just made it so much more comfortable for me and him. It’s also great to use to help baby when he is first starting to sit up.

I actually used this manual breast pump even more than my electric pump because it was just so easy to use on the go. We spent a lot of time on the road, driving to families, so I would just pump manually on the drive there. This one is top rated on Amazon too. I never had  any problems with it and it was used a lot!

Four Month Well Baby Visit

Four months had gone by and things were still going great (or so I thought). He had his scheduled 4 month well baby check-up and I couldn’t wait to see how much he had grown.

After being weighed and measured and a ridiculously long wait for the doctor, she finally came in. The usual pleasant smile on her face was laced with concern and my heart beat a little faster. What is going on, I thought to myself.

She asked me if I was still breastfeeding. Yes.

How often is he eating? Well, very often still actually. I just feed him when he’s hungry. 

Is he irritable or cranky? Yes he has been. I assumed he was colicky. 

At this point in the questioning I was starting to get really worried. There must be something going on with my son that I totally missed. Please just tell me what is going on!

She turned her computer around for me to see and showed me his growth chart. In the previous months the line on the graph was steadily climbing and when it got to month 4 it was pretty much a plateau. He wasn’t gaining enough weight this last month. How can that be? He eats constantly.

She explained to me that I probably wasn’t producing enough milk. This could explain why he was eating so often and why he has been cranky lately. It would probably be best to start supplementing with formula. She assured I could still breastfeed and just switch back and forth.

Formula! It was like a dirty word. I took a lot of pride in breast-feeding my children. It was a great accomplishment to me to start them out in life with the best possible nourishment straight from my body to theirs.

The rest of that appointment went by in a bit of a blur and the drive home I was angry at myself. I was sad for not knowing my son needed more. I was disappointed in myself for not being able to give him what he needed.

Supplementing Formula


Although I hated to have to do it I knew I had to start supplementing formula. I decided to breastfeed every other time to start out and see how that goes. I’d make changes as needed according to his wants and needs.

At first, he hated the formula. I ended up having to mix it with breastmilk to get him to eat it at all. Over the first couple weeks I gradually reduced the amount of breastmilk I put in with the formula until eventually he would eat the formula by itself.

The results of his weight gain were almost instantaneous. Within those first couple weeks us and our families could already see him start to fill out. His cheeks and thighs were plumping up by the week. I was so happy to see that he was doing so well.

Not only did he start gaining the weight he should quickly, but the times between his feedings spread out a lot because the formula was filling him up. He also had a much happier demeanor and that once cranky baby was now all smiles.

I continued to switch back and forth between formula and breastmilk for the next couple months. During the day the breastmilk he would eat would be previously pumped because after finding how easy it was to get milk from a bottle Mr. hungry didn’t want to bother with waiting around for milk letdown. I managed to get him to breastfeed right before bed and at night still because I still wanted that special time with him.

The day came though (much too soon for my liking) that he refused the breast altogether. It was really sad for me because he was still so young, but I didn’t force it anymore because I knew we had done a good job. At that point I gradually decreased my pumping. I had a freezer full of breastmilk and I would continue to feed him that switching with formula and until it was gone. Holy cow was it gone fast!

Grow Baby Grow

What I learned though all of the tears and breastmilk and formula is sometimes as a parent things aren’t always going to go exactly according to planned. You will end up doing things you said you would never do. You will have days that feel like failures and days that feel like victories. The important thing is that you are doing what is best for your baby.

As hard as it was for me to hear that my baby wasn’t getting enough from breastmilk I knew we had to make a change. That change ended up being the best thing I could have done for him and now I only wish I would have known sooner. Now at 9 months old he’s got all of those cute baby rolls and I couldn’t ask for a healthier baby.

Whatever your reason may be for having to supplement or totally switch to formula I am here to tell you that although it may feel like one of those failures it may actually be a victory. Don’t feel bad for doing what is best for your family or your baby. There are so many ways to be a great parent, you just have to find the one that’s right for you.

When Breastfeeding Isn't Enough



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4 thoughts on “When Breastfeeding Isn’t Enough

  1. I am drinking “Healthy nursing tea”. Honestly doesn’t taste the best but definitely helped build up a supply and is great for growth spurts to make sure I’m still producing enough for my little princess!

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