Combining breast and bottle from day one

Can I start my newborn on combined breast and bottle feeding right after birth? I am going to be in medical school when my baby is born and won't be able to take much time off after the baby is born. I really enjoyed nursing my first child and was hoping that I could do night/morning breastfeedings with this one.

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Your baby will benefit greatly from receiving your milk, even if you will not be able to satisfy all of her nutritional needs at your breast due to your school commitments. I would highly recommend trying to arrange your schedule so that you have at least the first week or two (preferably) off, so you can recover from the birth and establish breastfeeding.

When you will be separated early and often, it is very important to use the correct pump. I would recommend rental of a hospital-grade electric breastpump. Using it with the double-pump kit, you will reduce the amount of time you spend expressing your milk. Optimally, I would recommend expressing your milk for each feeding missed (every two to three hours), but if time constraints don't allow for this, it is better to spend five or ten minutes than not express your milk at all. Aim for nursing or expressing your milk 10 to 12 times a day during the first six weeks.

Before you leave for school, nurse your baby. You may find that she reverses her schedule and wants to spend a lot of time at your breast in the evening. The more time she spends at your breast, the better chance of keeping an abundant supply. Since I assume you have a lot of studying to do while at home, set up a nursing area where everything you need for your comfort and your studies is close at hand. Use her nursing time to study, if necessary, or rest if you can. When you get home from school, you may find it helpful to take a rest with your baby. Lie down, nurse and get a few minutes of sleep. You will both enjoy the closeness and will benefit from the rest after a long day.

In the middle of the night, you may find it very helpful to bring your baby into bed with you. With your very busy schedule, you may enjoy the added time spent with your baby. You won't be worn out from getting up and out of bed for nighttime feeds. This can make a big difference in the way you feel during the day.

Two forseeable problems with supplementing from a baby's first days of life are the chance of never developing an adequate milk supply, and the possibility of suck confusion. Hopefully you won't experience problems with either of these, but it is something that you should be aware of.

If you can get household help (even from friends or relatives), it would be very helpful as you're making the transition into motherhood for the second time. If this seems unlikely, I would recommend preparing and freezing meals ahead of time so the first few weeks that you're back at school won't be so exhausting. If someone asks what they can get you as a gift, suggest maid service for a month or two. Find as many ways as possible to simplify your life so you have time to enjoy that precious new baby! Best wishes.

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