Yes! You can believe the hype: Breastfeeding your baby can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most demanding and emotionally draining experiences of your life. As with most things worth having, it's one of those parenting jobs in which taking the good with the bad rewards you with the best results, because this fairly basic task is rarely simple to perform.
That's probably not what you expected, is it? Today, 70 percent of new moms leave the hospital attempting to breastfeed -- up from 55 percent almost 15 years ago -- because that's what's emphasized by health-care professionals (not to mention the very vocal legions of women who promote nursing from a personal standpoint). All the information out there about breastfeeding screams its superiority: It's healthier, cheaper (both true), and (often, but not always) more convenient.
"I started off breastfeeding, however, after I went back to work, it was hard to pump enough to keep up with the demand. So I supplemented with formula at daycare and nursed my son morning and night and on weekends. I still felt good knowing he was getting some breast milk." -Beth, St. Louis, MO
But while we at Babytalk really do agree that breast milk is the gold standard in infant nutrition, we also recognize there's no one way to feed a baby. In fact, breastfeeding some of the time and bottle-feeding the rest -- what we call "doing the combo" -- can be an ideal choice for many moms. Exhausted or frustrated by nursing? This route's for you. If you're a working mom and pumping works well, your baby can have expressed breast milk during the day and nursing can continue at home. Alternatively, adding formula bottles to your baby's feeding routine will save or at least limit how often you need to pump at work and schlep equipment back and forth. Supplementing is also a relief for moms who aren't making a lot of milk or are having trouble developing a good latch-on technique. Of course, with formula, you'll be giving up some of the health benefits that are maximized when a baby is exclusively breastfed, but you'll also be giving yourself a break.