Successful Breastfeeding Can Include Formula

Lowell had formula.

I say this not for praise or like it’s some kind of confession. It’s nothing I’m ashamed of. It’s not anything that I need a gold star for or sympathy for. It’s a non issue. I fed my baby just like people all over the world feed their babies every day.

95% of the time Lowell (now nearly 15 months) was exclusively breastfed. 5% of the time, he took formula.

I say this because I was inspired by The Leaky Boob to share a honest account of what successful breastfeeding can look like.

My first two babies, who exclusively breastfed for a combined total of 3 years, never had a drop of formula. I’ve always believed and said that’s largely in part to me being fortunate enough to stay at home with them, and naturally producing a HUGE supply of milk for a long time.

Breastfeeding has certainly presented me with some struggles that I had to overcome, but once I got over those initial bumps in the road, it was smooth sailing.

By the time Lowell was born last summer, I’d reached a point with blogging and speaking that required a lot more travel. The last year has been a great one for me as far as professional opportunities. It’s also been incredibly busy and overwhelming at times.

My first trip away from Lowell, he was about 9 months old, I left filled with worry that he wouldn’t have enough frozen breastmilk.

“So I’ll just get him some formula, ” Scott said matter-of-factly.

To be completely honest, it wasn’t that simple of a solution for me. I did feel guilt for not having pumped enough, but I think most of my anxiety about it came from simply not knowing how his system would handle it while I was gone.

Luckily, we had enough breastmilk in the freezer to mix with the formula and help the transition.

And what do ya know? My baby was happy and healthy and not hungry when I arrived home a few days later.

From then on, I didn’t even bother building my breastmilk stash in preparation of upcoming travel. In fact, I donated what I built up while traveling to a local mom fighting breast cancer with a baby a little younger than Lowell.

Frankly, I quite enjoyed the freedom of being able to agree to a last minute trip without my baby, not having to take into account how much of a breastmilk stash I had built up.

I hesitated to even blog this for a while, NOT because it was something I wanted to hide, but because I didn’t think it was anything to be celebrated. MANY of you who are reading this have fed your babies formula, either supplementally or exclusively. No big whoop.


But I do think it’s important to share that I would still consider my breastfeeding relationship with Lowell to be 100% successful, despite choosing to give him formula on occaision. And I hope it takes some of the guilt and weight off of other moms who are facing supplementation.

A few things worth noting:

1. Yes, I know donor milk is always a great option. Obviously. I AM a breastmilk donor. But my baby was getting plenty of breastmilk. I didn’t feel I needed to find a donor (and take milk away from someone who truly needs it) just for me to supplement because I was, ultimately, too lazy/tired/overwhelmed to pump.

2. If you’re a new mom, and you are aiming to breastfeed, please educate yourself on how supplementing can affect your supply.¬†

3.  Alternate title- Successful breastFEEDING Can Include Formula



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  1. Shannah Doerner on

    Thank you for sharing. As a first time mother I’ve frequented a few mommy forums and you would not believe how harsh some women can be to those who choose to supplement or formula feed. I mostly breastfeed as well, with some formula, and don’t understand why others find this such a horrible thing. Breastfeeding is NOT easy. It sounds easy in theory but it’s not. Pumping is even more difficult. It’s nice to see someone else who supplemented with formula and still feels like a successful breastfeeder. More women need to support other women. In the end, our babies are fed, that’s what matters.

  2. Where do you get information on donating your excess? Okay that sounds weird, but I’m too tired to come up with better words, and I’m afraid I’ll forget I wanted to ask if I wait. I’ve got a 3 month old and a crazy oversupply thing going on… So I’m curious. And also tired right now.

  3. Kaysee Tippit Emery on

    I think this post is one of the most important “mommy posts” you have done. with my first, I busted my booty to get a freezer stash going and my body always struggled with pumping. They only thing it would respond to was a hand pump! Hand pumps are no fun! With my 2nd, it took a month for her to get back to her birth weight (mostly because she loved sleeping) so, we supplemented with formula. OMG! what a relief! I didn’t pump at all with my 2nd and if we left her with someone or I had a few drinks, she got formula. No big deal and what a stress reliever it was. We breast feed to 13 months and I also feel it was a breastfeeding success!!!

  4. My son had low birth weigh and low blood sugar at birth and was given formula at the hospital to get his blood sugar up. We struggled with tongue tied and other problems that made my LC say that sometimes it doesn’t work and that was what formula was made for. This determined mom was able to get to 75% breast milk/ 25% formula by pumping all the time. We made it 11 months like this. I was only able to do this because of the one year maternity leave here in Canada. If I had been working, it would have been impossible.

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