EBF to Combo – internal stigma

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve written, all my thoughts and time caught up navigating the world of parenthood.

By now Froggie (our nickname for the baby given he keeps pulling up his knees adorably) is 3 months old and yesterday we had our pediatrician check-up. So far I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding around the clock on demand. Well… turns out despite all my efforts so far that didn’t include supplementing nor drinking special nursing tea, he had only gained around 290g (0.66oz). It’s less than half of what he should have gained. I was shocked to tears.

I can’t really stomach to check the local breastfeeding support group because their every answer is to breastfeed often like it’s a magic pill. I’m doing that almost every hour, and while if that’s all that takes for some to balance supply and demand, awesome! But to mothers who are doing everything right to just be dismissed with “only 1-5% of people have undersupply” is the same as “you’re not trying hard enough”. Also, I left the group because even if babies had very poor weight gain, they discouraged any sort of supplementing. That crosses the line for me.

I’ve heard “Breast is Best” from day 1 in the hospital. While I’ve always kept an open mind to formula and never judge others on how they feed their babies, I was hard on myself. It really got into my head despite my best effort. I’ve gone through bouts of mastitis, power pumping, around the clock nursing to make it work so I didn’t want all that effort to go to waste. I was afraid that 1 bottle of formula meant the end of breastfeeding.

So, at the check-up, clearly things needed intervening. I was instructed to drink herbal nursing tea three times a day, eat better (especially oatmeal and almonds) and supplement Froggie with formula 1 meal per day. About eating, it’s easy to forget when you’re ‘on duty’ around the clock.

Last time, when I tried to give him pumped milk through a bottle, he had refused. Thus I was nervous. Yesterday I followed the instructions of the sample packet, glad we had the foresight 2 years ago to get an electric kettle that also has a 40C° setting. It made the process very easy. Add the water, add the formula and shake it vigorously. I took Froggie and sat in the chair, having him almost upright and offered the bottle.

While he was staring at me wide-eyed, he drank all of 170ml, and has been way calmer and happier ever since. On one hand I was relieved my baby is getting fed properly, on the other I was afraid this was the beginning of the end in terms of breastfeeding. So the process was bittersweet.

Not even an hour later, Froggie took to nursing as enthusiastically as ever, to my relief. I posted in my reddit’s bumper group about combo feeding and there are so many replies saying their supply isn’t damaged by it. Finally, no more fearmongering. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I understand there are so many benefits to breastfeeding and the all or nothing approach is used as means of encouragement to really try, but the stigma and dismissal when sometimes it just doesn’t work as well as you’d want to, it’s overwhelming. These things don’t get talked about in everyday life enough.

In other news the nursing tea works. I’m outside strolling with Froggie sleeping in the pram and ouch, it feels like the first weeks. I doubled down on making oatmeal for breakfast (oops I made too much so I guess this will be my lunch too). While yes I am now combo feeding, I’m still doing my best to keep up with what I have.

My ‘setup’

For now, thanks for reading!


Listening to: Elton John – I’m still standing

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