Combined Feeding by Naomi Saunders
MAM Baby UK Infant Massage Consultant & Feeding Advisor
What is combined feeding ?
I, like many other first-time mums, envisioned motherhood to be an idyllic journey. As for any unexpected bumps, I believed support would be available. After attending a very informative breastfeeding workshop I felt confident I knew how I would feed my baby. At no point during my first pregnancy did I consider: what I would do if I couldn’t breastfeed or how my baby would be fed when I returned to work. Nor was this information offered to me.
Once my first daughter arrived, I thoroughly enjoyed feeding her. But I found my daughter being exclusively on the breast intense, feeds relying solely on myself and my partner feeling like a spare part. At 8 weeks old I made the choice to introduce formula and a bottle. However, the lack of information regarding combined feeding meant I quickly gave up and moved solely to a bottle.
4 years on and the second time around I was determined to breastfeed for longer. I was more realistic though. I knew as a mum of two with a full-time teaching job and admittedly someone who does enjoy the occasional sociable night out that exclusively breastfeeding would not be a sustainable or a viable option for me and my family.
Online there is a lot of talk about ‘nipple confusion’, I think in my experience it was more ‘teat confusion’. My daughter was refusing almost every bottle on the market and with my return-to-work date drawing closer. I was again convinced my only option would be to put her on a bottle and that babies simply could not alternate between the two. Then a friend suggested the MAM Easy Start bottle, at which point I was on product number 5!
The bottle arrived. Deflated and uninterested in hanging around to watch her refusal, I retreated into the kitchen with little optimism. But nothing could be heard, no crying, no spitting, she was taking the bottle, not just taking the bottle she lay on my mum contently sucking at the teat with that same comfort I saw on her face when I fed her myself. It was not just a fluke, later that evening my partner gave her the bedtime bottle, the first feed he had ever been able to give her. This was because the MAM teat requires the same tongue movement which baby uses at the nipple to feed. That night when she woke up, I fed her from my breast and in those sleepy moments, I was reminded why I did not want to give up breastfeeding.
From that day on our combination of breast and bottle feeding started, the cleverly designed MAM bottle was a bridge between both worlds and meant our breastfeeding journey went beyond 12 months.
- I enjoyed giving other family members the chance to feed my daughter.
- I loved being able to give her a bottle before we went out and knowing she was settled for a few hours.
- I also loved coming home to her and knowing how excited she was to see me and lie with me in bed and feed.
- I loved being able to feed her when teething was really getting to her and all she wanted was that comfort.
My blog is not to push breastfeeding onto mums. However, it is important those out there like me who want to breastfeed, but also need to return to work to know there is an option to have the best of both worlds. Wanting convenience and a method of feeding that benefits not just your baby but you and your family is not selfish. Struggling with feeding is often wrongly labelled as an act of heroism, but there is no need for this because the act of motherhood in itself makes us all heroes.