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Reasons Why Breastfeeding Women Supplement with Formula


By Kristi Patrice Carter

Breastfeeding is the most rewarding experience, both emotional and health wise that you can share with your newborn baby. However, there are times when you may be anxious that your infant may not be getting enough from the breast, and you may be considering supplementing with formula.

Although breast milk is always best for your child, there just might be times when it is in the best interest and health of your baby to supplement with formula.

It is absolutely safe and acceptable to supplement breast milk with formula, so never feel guilty if you must do so. The goal, no matter what the feeding method, is to make sure your baby is well fed, nourished and thriving.

Many mothers decide to supplement with formula if they are returning to work. Formula makes it easier to take milk to the caregiver. Additionally, some women find it very difficult to express milk, and therefore supplementing with formula means your child is always well fed. Just keep in mind that if you do so, it is critical to breastfeed at every opportunity so that your body knows that the breast milk is needed and continues to produce a sufficient supply of breast milk.

Other moms supplement because the child is not getting enough to eat, and the child is not thriving. Obviously, this is a valid reason to supplement breast milk with formula.

Another reason for supplementing is that you are not able to produce sufficient levels of breast milk to satisfy your infant. Before supplementing, you may want to try some herbal methods of increasing milk supply (like Fenugreek or Milk Thistle). However, if that doesn’t work, you may need to supplement with formula to be sure your baby is getting enough to eat.

There are many reasons why a mother may decide to supplement breastfeeding with formula. Regardless of the reason, the goal is always to make certain that your child is getting adequate amounts of food and nourishment at every feeding so that they continue to gain weight and grow at a normal and healthy rate.


Even if your infant is only able to have one or two nursing sessions a day, a little breast milk is better than none at all. The formula merely acts as a support system to nourish your child.


Since your breast milk is supply and demand, if you drastically reduce the number of nursing sessions or do not express your milk on a regular basis, your milk supply will dwindle. Professionals state that even if you supplement with formula just one bottle a day, your milk supply will decrease. However, it will not vanish completely. Therefore, if you are only supplementing with formula a few bottles each week, your milk production should decrease but not vanish completely.

Just keep in mind that if you are supplementing not to mix breast milk and formula in the same bottle. You should breastfeed first and then follow-up with the formula if your baby still requires more. If you mix formula and expressed breast milk in a bottle, your child is not getting all the breast milk that he should if he doesn’t finish the entire bottle.