Supplememt W/formula or Not?

Updated on August 02, 2007
M.P. asks from Chicago, IL
11 answers

Hello mamas!
My second son was born July 17th! He's healthy and beautiful, thanks be to god. He was one month early. I am breastfeeding. Here goes my questions, at the hospital I talked w/the lactation consultant she said don't supplement feed the baby whenever he wants for as long as he wants.

1st: My son had to do a car seat trial since he was born early. The first time he did the car seat trial the nurse said his breathing was too fast because he was still hungry. And if they could give him formula to calm him so he would pass the test so I could take him home. They did give him 1/3 of an ounce. He passed we got to take him home.

2nd: He had jaundice pretty bad. I was being told to supplement with formula again.

It feels discouraging. I want to do the right thing and breastfeed. But then I'm being told; he's still hungry, supplement w/formula. Discouraging to say the least.

I don't understand the lactation consultant says don't supplement. The doctor says supplement. I wish they could both be in the same room with me to duke it out verbally with eachother. Instead of me having to deal with conflicting information.

Then my doctor (a family doctor not a pediatrician) says pump if you don't get a lot when you pump then the baby is not getting a lot - supplement with formula.

I'm going a little bit nutso! I am going to call the lactation consultant today. But I also know the mamas on here are well experienced and may have gone through this situation before. I'd appreciate advice and/or your experience. Thank you so much!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all that responded. I knew I could count on you ladies to help me. Thanks for explainning some of the different information I was getting. And sharing your experiences. You've deffinately helped me feel better about BFeeding and supplementing. I feel a little smarter. I was feeling like quitting. But I know I can do this. Thanks again!

More Answers



answers from Milwaukee on

It is certainly NOT true that RN's don't have any training or experience in breastfeeding. I am an OB RN and I have tons of training in helping new moms learn to breastfeed- its what I do for a living! We are the ones that are there for the moms day in and day out- the LCs and Peds just see them once or twice. Just had to get that out of the way.
Anyways it is true that the more your son eats the more he will poop and get rid of the jaundice. I had the same problem with my now 7 month old son, who I am still breastfeeding today. I chose to pump and also give formula when he was jaundice because I felt that was what was best for him, not because of anyone else's advice. As long as you have a good pump and pump whenever you supplement it should not affect your milk supply much. I know it can be very frustrating as a new mom to get so much different advice- it can be frustrating for us as RN's to deal with this also because the mom's don't know what to do. So my advice is to breastfeed for a good 10-20 min each side and then supplement if he still seems hungry (formula or EBM) and pump. Then slowly cut out one supplement/pumping at a time until you are sure he is getting enough (6-8 wet and 4-6 poops a day and 8-12 breastfeedings). We give that plan to lots of mom's going home. See your Ped or a LC if you are unsure! Above all do what is best for your baby and what works for you and your family. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Hi M. - congrats on the birth of your son! I also just had a baby boy six weeks ago. After bringing him home the first night he cried almost all night and the next day we gave him 2 oz of formula and he sucked it down and was so content. I think we may have given him formula a couple more times over the course of the next week or so and then my milk came in big time and he's been on breast milk (either nursing or pumped in a bottle) ever since. I have a great book - The New Basics - and it says "formula is not poison." If your son is hungry, supplementing is OK and eventually he will get enough just from you.

When we had concerns about whether my son was getting enough, our pediatrician suggested to try nursing him and then offering him a bottle after every other feeding - that way he does not think it's a guarantee (like if you were to do it every time) and he'll still work hard at the nursing.

This is just my opinion, but it's not worth the stress - if the formula will help when he's hungry, then why not give it to him? I hope this helps!! Best of luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Do what you feel is best for your child. My second daughter was born at 10lbs and no matter what I did brestfeeding was not enough for her, so I supplemented. I felt much better knowing she was getting enough to eat, then worrying that she was hungry. She's now 15 years old and if you could see how much she eats you would know why I had to supplement!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on


Our son had jaundice pretty bad, too. They were thinking of keeping him another night because of it. As it turns out, they let us take him home and we had to use a bili-blanket to get rid of the jaundice. The peditrician told me the more he ate, the better it was to help get rid of the jaundice, too. She understood that I was committed to breastfeeding, but was looking out for Jacob - at least I felt that way. She suggested to supplement with formula if he would take it.

15 minutes later, the lactation nurse at the hospital told me I shouldn't supplement with formula. Boy, was I confused! When it came down to it and after my husband and I talked about it, I was more comfortable taking the advice of the peditrician. So, we did. It was only a couple of days and after that Jacob was fed breastmilk 100%.

I'm due with our second son in about 4 weeks and I intend to breastfeed again. I'm committed to it and it works well for our family. The one thing I found discouraging about the lactation specialist at the hospital is that she was SO pushy about breast feeding. I'm scared to think what she would have been like if I chose NOT to BF.

If I were you, I would take the advice of your peditrician and supplement just until the jaundice passes. She's the one that will be seeing your son a LOT in the next 12 months. For us, I suppose we just felt that she was the one we were trusting with the over-all care of our son so we took her advice.

Good luck.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Sorry you're getting conflicting information from different people. I'm sure it's frustrating. I'm not a specialist in this area, but I am nursing our second child and have a little experience.

First, I think you've got to do what you feel is best for your child. If you have a good relationship with your ped or lactation consultant and trust them, by all means, follow their advice.

One very important point though -- how much you pump really isn't a good indicator of how much your baby gets from nursing. Normally, your baby is much better at getting your milk than any pump on the market. Is your baby producing wet diapers? Does he seem satisfied after nursing? Is he gaining weight?

We did decide to supplement with formula with our first child due to jaundice, but it was just an ounce or two the first week or two she was born, then everything was normal.

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

"Doing the right thing" means feeding your child.

If that means you have to supplement with formula DO NOT beat yourself up over it. I'm fairly certain that with commitment and assistance, the supplementing could be temporary (if even necessary).

But please, don't think you're killing your child if you have to feed them formula. Too many times people try to guilt mothers into thinking their children will be inferior if they take formula and that's not a nice thing to do to a new mother.



answers from Chicago on

OK, I only read a few responses, but it looks like there are some strong opinions. I will just share our experience and hope that helps....

My daughter was born little (5lb 13oz) at full term, but had jaundice. At the hospital, the pediatrician on call and the RNs made it seem as though I HAD to supplement if I ever wanted the jaundice to go away. So, at the hospital, I did. I really wanted to exclusively BF, so when we got home I stopped supplementing. My daughter's regular dr. was really supportive and told me all the benefits of BFing. The day after we came home, I met with the lactation consultant and told her that I wanted to BF. Part of my problem was that, because I was induced (due to preeclampsia), my milk hadn't come in all the way yet. I rented a pump and pumped after I nursed (every hour and a half!!). Sure enough, I had a LOT of milk pretty fast. My baby's jaundice did go away without supplementing, and it did not take any longer than expected.

In my humble opinion... If you want to BF, do it. Your baby and your body will even out- it is supply and demand. The nursing on demand takes getting used to, but he will slow down with it (my daughter stopped the 1 1/2- 2 hour nursing after a couple weeks...). If you can't do it, don't stress too much. Let me know if I can help you out at all- I am not a professional, but I have been there!!!




answers from Chicago on

The nurse in the hospital needs to go back to nursing school and you need to find yourself a new doctor. Breastmilk is definitely best for your baby and supplementing with formula is of no benefit to him at all. If he seems hungry, nurse him again. Have confidence in yourself and in your body, it is more than capable of nourishing your son. COngratulations on your new baby and on deciding to breastfeed.



answers from Chicago on

This is bad advice on all three cases! Each time you supplement your body will produce less milk and perpetuate the problem. PLEASE see a lactation consultant. RNs and MDs do not have training in breastfeeding. I know this because I am an RN!

If the baby is still hungry after you nurse you should put him back on the breast to stimulate more milk production. If you give formula instead your body does not produce any more milk. Then when baby sleeps even longer because he is full from the bottle (they take more from the bottle because it's easier to get) that signals your body to produce even less milk.

Baby can get much more out of your breast than pumping can. The only way to tell how much your baby gets is to weigh the baby on a digital scale before and after a feeding (the same scale both time).

Definitely see a lactation consultant. It is possible to supplement and be succesful but it can cause some difficulties.



answers from Chicago on

In some situations, some mothers have found it necessary to supplement with formula in the first week or two. In no way does that 'ruin' the child for breastfeeding (although the lactation class I took prenatally at Rush would have you believing that if a child took formula they'd drop over dead practically, and you'd be deemed an unfit mom...). Just keep at the breastfeeding and IF he is still hungry, then top him off with formula - breast first, then formula. You have a newborn child which is stressful enough; don't feel guilty about giving him formula. A handful of times will not turn him off to the breast. There's absolutely nothing wrong with supplementing - hey, your kid needs to eat, right? Chances are, if you really keep at the breastfeeding then this will be a very temporary stage and will be an afterthought once your milk comes in better.



answers from Chicago on


I hope that you find a lactation consultant that you are comfortable working with. The mis information and contradictory information out "there" is horrible. I often say, I would prefer they all tell you the wrong information than all saying something different.

Your md has no training or background in lactation.. there are few md's who do. so their knowledge is based on what they are told.. often by the formula manufacturers!

Good luck.

Pres. Lactation Support Group, Inc

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