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Combining Breast and Bottle Feeding

It was an easy two-hour drive to Scranton, PA, with her 10-week-old son, Connor, snoozing in his car seat, and the actress and writer Amy Wilson was ready for her performance in The Vagina Monologues, the hilarious play about--well, you know what it's about. It would be her first time working since before Connor's arrival, but her parents lived in the area, so her mom was on call for babysitting.

Despite some reflux, Connor had been a champion nurser. Wilson had yet to get him to drink any breast milk out of a bottle, however. "I was sure that once he was hungry enough, he'd eat. Of course he would," says Wilson.

He didn't. Eight hours later, Wilson returned to find her mother holding a wide-eyed Connor, who had refused to drink even an ounce of milk from the bottle--he'd gone purple with anger at the sight of it. "I had listened to all the experts the first time around who warned of 'nipple confusion' if even one bottle was introduced too early," recalls Wilson. "But I'd waited too long, and he never wanted any part of it. If I had to leave him for a funeral or a meeting or a haircut, he'd simply not eat until the moment I returned."

By now, you've surely heard that "breast is best." Breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed your child for the first year of life: It provides optimal nutrition and is a fantastic way to bond. It may reduce rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and ear infections, among other health benefits.

The only downside to nursing is that it may be hard: It can be physically exhausting and challenging to learn how to do it. "The fact is, breastfeeding is easier for some women," says Marianne Neifert, M.D., author of Great Expectations: The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding. "Some women put in a lot of effort and they might not produce as much milk as someone who puts in less effort." Add to this the fact that new moms don't get a ton of breastfeeding instruction during their short stay at the hospital, employers aren't always supportive of pumping, and much of America gets icked-out when a mom nurses at the mall. But before you throw in the towel, realize there's no one right way to feed a baby. You don't have to breastfeed exclusively--you can combine it with bottle-feeding in a routine that works for both of you.

If doing a combo of the two means that you're happier and saner, then you should do it--without worrying about what anyone else thinks. "Maybe more women would make it to a year of breastfeeding if they could go see a movie every once in a while," says Wilson, who recently wrote When Did I Get Like This? The Screamer, The Worrier, The Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget Buyer and Other Mothers I Swore I'd Never Be. Here's how to make the most of both feeding methods so you can get some rest, go to work, and maybe even get out to see that movie.