How we Combi Feed | Blog

When Smidge was born in June 2018 we accidentally fell into our Combi feeding journey. I had every intention to try to breastfeed as I had tried with Pickle back in 2012 but it didn't happen for a number of reasons. When I was pregnant this time I told myself that I’d try again but I wouldn’t pressure myself and if it didn’t happen then that would be okay. Once Smidge was here he would latch on but wouldn’t suckle. I think it was a mixture of him being so small as he was 4 weeks early and also my nipples not being big enough for him to really get a good latch so I started to express. Smidge started taking expressed breast milk from a bottle but as he was a very hungry baby we also “topped him up” with formula milk. Once he was a couple of weeks old we decided to try him at the breast again to see if he would have the strength to latch properly and suckle. He did!! This has lead us to where we are today.

Smidge is currently 6 weeks old and is thriving. He has formula through the night which means he is sleeping really well and then he will have expressed milk and drink from me throughout the day. It’s a pretty perfect situation for us as Hubby can help with feeds during the night but I still know he is getting all the goodness that breast milk provides. Our set up may not work for everyone but for us it is great and I have had so many people ask how we have got here and what we have done so I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt and how we combi feed.

At 6 weeks old this is our current set up... remember that it’s currently July and we are in the middle of a ridiculous heatwave so I think Smidge is drinking from me more than usual mainly for hydration purposes.

7am - I wake up and pump (Usually I get 4-5oz)
8am - Smidge has a bottle of breast milk (5oz)
10am - Smidge feeds from me for around 15-30 mins
11.30 am - Smidge will have a bottle of formula (5oz)
12.30pm - I will pump (3-4oz)
3pm - Smidge will feed from me for 20-30 mins and then have a bottle of breast milk if he is still hungry (3-4oz)
6pm - Smidge has a bottle of formula (5oz)
7.30pm - I will pump (3-4oz)
9pm- Smidge will feed from me for anything up to an hour
11pm - Smidge has a bottle of formula (6oz)
4am - Smidge has a bottle of formula (6oz)
And then we are back to the 8am bottle again.

One of the most important things that I realised pretty early on is that combi feeding isn’t an easy way out especially if you are planning on expressing. Expressing takes time and if you think about it you are almost doubling the amount of time you are feeding for as you will give a bottle to your baby but then also have to sit and express. The best way that I found to overcome this was by getting a compact pump that is portable and a pumping bra. These two things mean that you move around and get other things done whilst you pump. I’m currently using the Lansinoh Compact Pump and the Bravado Clip and Pump bra. Both are brilliant! With us, Smidge will have his bottle, I’ll burp him and then he will generally fall asleep. I will take that opportunity right after he has been fed to pop my pump on and go and sterilise the bottles, do some washing or tidy up. For me, it helps me kill two birds with one stone. I would have expressed 3/4 oz of milk and got some house work done at the same time! The only thing to bear in mind with this is that during the early days when you are trying to establish your milk you may be better to stay by your baby and cuddle them as it will help you to produce more milk but once your body knows how much to make then you can get pumping on the go!

The other thing that helped us establish a good combi feeding routine was that we started it early. Smidge doesn’t know any different so will happily take from a bottle or from boob as we have been doing it since he was about 2 weeks old so to him it is normal. I also use nipple shields (I’m using the MAM ones which are super soft and easy to use) when I feed to help Smidge get a good latch as my nipples are so tiny. I think this has also helped with him taking a bottle as the shields are the same texture and shape as a teat so it is familiar to him. This said, shields can be a bit of a faff sometimes but for me, it is the only way Smidge will feed. He refuses to latch on now with out a shield and I don’t mind. If that’s what it takes to get him to feed from me then so be it.

As unexpected as our combi feeding journey has been, I am so glad that we are on it. As I have said throughout this post, it really works for us. It may not work for all but for us it is perfect. Smidge is happy as he has a full belly but yet has milk on tap from me when he needs it. I am happy as I am able to get a few solid hours of sleep a night rather than cluster feeding or being up and down (selfish I know but you can’t pour from an empty cup!). Hubby is happy as he can get involved and help with feeding. We are all happy and it just works perfectly for us.

If you’ve got any more questions about how we combi feed then please feel free to ask!

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