Tuesday 5 March 2019

MOTHERHOOD: How will I know when to stop combination feeding?

Combination feeding has been a big part of my life for the past three years or so and still is to be honest. Back in 2015, when Isabella was born, we were hoping to be able to establish breastfeeding over the first few weeks and then move to combination feeding from around six weeks. I was incredibly lucky with my breastfeeding journey and only 20 minutes after being born Isabella was latched on and feeding away. Other than the usual aches and pains of those early weeks of breastfeeding, I had a very positive experience. That was until Isabella was three weeks old and going through a growth spurt; I simply felt like I couldn't keep up with breastfeeding alone. I was barely sleeping, feeding what felt like constantly and still Isabella wasn't satisfied. Seeing my struggles and anguish over the situation my husband suggested we gave her a small bottle of formula milk as a 'top up'. 

That was when our combination feeding journey began and although that moment was filled with a lot of emotion, it ended up being the perfect feeding choice for Isabella and our family. Isabella's combination feeding journey came to an end when she was fourteen months old, as one day she simply refused to breastfeed and just like that it was over.
Fast forward a few years when we found out we were pregnant with Poppy it threw up a lot of feeding questions again. I had been so lucky with breastfeeding last time, would I be so lucky this time? Did we want to combination feed again? After a few discussions we quickly came to the decision that we hoped to follow a very similar feeding journey with Poppy. This meant I hoped to breastfeed for those early weeks and then move to combination feeding once again. On the 14th June 2017 Poppy very quickly came into our lives and luckily after only 15 minutes since entering the world she had latched on and didn't stop feeding for those first few days. It was exhausting, but having the parenting experience behind me I knew it wouldn't last forever. 
I managed to exclusively breastfeed Poppy for the first six weeks and then we once again moved on to combination feeding. Initially we introduced one bottle within 24 hours and then two, which it remained at for a good few months. It enabled my husband to do some of the feeding, as well as build that all important bond with Poppy. I also found that it meant I was able to still spend time with Isabella because as soon as you have more than one child you realise quite how hard splitting your time is. It took Poppy quite a while to get used to feeding from a bottle, but once she got it we were quickly into a routine of both bottle and breastfeeding. 
Poppy is now 20 months and there doesn't seem to be any sign of her wanting to stop breastfeeding. By this point with Isabella we had stopped combination feeding for over four months, so I feel like I'm in the unknown. I don't know when to stop and how to be honest. At the moment there isn't much of a need to stop, Poppy's happy so I'm happy, but when will our combination feeding journey come to an end? How do you know when the time is 'right'? I only breastfeed her first thing in the morning, so it isn't very often anymore anyway but it is precious time nonetheless. 
I'm not sure when to stop, but what I do know is that for as long as Poppy wants it our journey will continue. Who knows if we'll have anymore children and just the thought of not breastfeeding ever again is pretty emotional. 

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x


  1. You will stop when the time is right, just take it in your stride. Like you said I'm sure that poppy will let you know too. For now, enjoy the moments you have, because they grow so fast.

  2. I think you just know when you are ready to stop. I found breast feeding very difficult so I expressed milk but also gave formula too.

  3. I guess with all things in motherhood you’ll know when the time it’s right - you just have to trust your instincts!

  4. It'll happen naturally I think. We combination fed our son from 6 weeks old as well, as the evening cluster feeds wore me out. We introduced a bedtime bottle at 7pm which my husband could do and only increased the number of bottles at 7 months. It was right for us and worked. But I stopped breastfeeding sooner than I would have liked. If its still working for you both just go with it x

  5. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like. My nephew didn't take to feeding so he started with the bottle and my SIL wishes she had the opportunity.

  6. It just happened naturally for us. The boys just stopped asking for it at some point. You will know when the time comes x

  7. I had a similar journey first time round with Finn. I stopped breastfeeding when he was 10 months as he started getting a bit bitey. With Ollie, it's very relaxed, most days he's breastfed, and then every so often I chuck in a bottle if it's more convenient. I'm sure it'll feel right when the time comes to stop and you'll know just what to do

  8. I’m currently breastfeeding my 9mo. We hit hard times at 3 weeks and opted for combination feeding but Freddie preferred breast over bottle so we ditched the formula and went back to breast only. I’ve not set myself an end target- I think I’m going to leave it to Freddie not wanting it any more x


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