Unnecessary Formula Supplementing is Often the Antechamber of a Breastfeeding Journey that ends Earlier. Or Fails.

Unnecessary Formula Supplementing is Often the Antechamber of a Breastfeeding Journey that ends Earlier. Or Fails.


Formula Supplementing is Often the Antechamber of a Breastfeeding Journey that Ends Earlier. Or Fails.

How does “Formula supplementing” work? And can we return to exclusive breastfeeding from that?


Supplementing is increasingly common and is being introduced earlier and earlier. The things is, it is being introduced even when not really needed.

A lot of FALSE AND MISLEADING information is being spread on this topic. Such as:

“If your baby is always crying or always on the breast it means he is hungry. You might not have enough milk.”

JUST NO.  So much wrong in this statement.

Starting from the fact that it doesn’t even take in consideration that the issue might not be with the milk supply but with the latch.


Moms are often left feeling confused and the information they receive is not always correct.

Formula supplements are almost always the antechamber of a breastfeeding journey that ends earlier.

They are being introduced to moms more and more when NOT needed.

I remember being offered formula from a nurse straight away after giving birth and a few days after (although my baby was nursing fantastically) because: “It might be difficult for you to breastfeed after all you have been through”.

Yes I had a difficult birth, I was victim of medical negligence which resulted in an emergency C-section and major injury to one of my organs during surgery.

Yes I was in pain, yes I couldn’t move, but I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted to try.

And so I did. Successfully.

Sometimes a formula supplement is offered immediately, sometimes they don’t even allow you to try. Sometimes they will make you believe that your body won’t work even before you had a chance.

“Don’t make it hard for yourself, most moms would just keep on supplementing or switch entirely to formula…”

And so, there are those moms that reluctantly, fearfully, doubtfully surrender to the idea that, THAT’S what is best. That supplementing is NECESSARY, while all the meanwhile their instincts tell them otherwise.

So, they go on supplementing, yet they still have questions, but no answers…

No one to understand their discomfort.

No one to understand their true wishes.

But anyhow … It is inevitable … or is it?

“We don’t want to starve this child, right madam?”

“Maternal or artificial milk, what does it matter? What interests us now is that the baby puts on weight and in hurry!”

Nobody cares if each of these words weighs like a boulder and comes straight to the heart like a dart, violently thrown at you.

Nobody cares if it touches on rudeness and scientific ignorance making you feel the wicked inept.

This doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter the sense of failure, helplessness, and guilt a mother feels.

It matters little if she feels betrayed by her own body, if she feels powerless in the face of damage that she herself thinks she has done.

It matters little if then every day, she and she alone will come to terms with these emotions and with the difficult daily management of mixed feeding.

This does not interest anyone and never falls into any medical record.

But it hurts.

It hurts not to understand what to do anymore, how much milk to give, how many times to attach the baby to the breast, how effective those feedings are and how much instead one cannot risk to make mistakes.

However, you do it, you seem to do it all wrong. No one who says the same thing and above all, no one who really directs and guides you towards an effective and immediate recovery action because:

“Don’t make it hard for yourself, most moms would just keep on supplementing or switch entirely to formula…”

That is what I was told, when due to medication I had to give formula to my baby for more than a week; wanted to gradually reintroduce the breast and eventually go back to exclusively breastfeed.

(Which thanks to an amazing and educated midwife, I DID.)


Those who recommend to supplement WITHOUT other strategies of recovery for the milk supply, latch etc…, do NOT give the best help.

There are situation where a mother who supplements, lives as in a limbo.

She experiences all the negative aspects of both breastfeeding AND formula feeding.

Not twice positive, but twice as tiring.

Feedings are often interminable and not very effective, which is often the reason most mothers have entered this tunnel … (too bad that no one has done anything to change these feedings and to solve the root of the problem), the BABY is always nervous, he LATCHES ON to the breast but immediately afterwards he wakes up crying desperately.

Someone suggests the double weighing. Among the tears, hers and those of the child. Then she runs to prepare a bottle of formula. Heat the water, boil it, let it cool, bring it back to the optimal temperature, give the milk.

With the bottle. Yes, because WITHOUT other alternative advice, the “supplement” is given with a bottle.

The bottle is emptied in a few minutes, often with great intake of air.

Too bad that the baby is still upset. “Will he still be hungry? He emptied a bottle in 5 minutes and still cries … it could be that it is not enough for him. And now what? Increase the dose? Will you give him a little in half an hour without waiting for another 3 fateful hours? ”

Doubts. Nervous doubts.

And day after day the discomfort increases. Of course, his weight starts to reassure us. The paediatrician is happy. The husband too, and the mother in law … but the MOTHER? Every day the mother continues to suffer this fatigue, this confusion, of being neither here nor there.

And after a while she gives in. Understandably.

Feedings thin out, the formula increases, the bottle is preferred to the breast, and exclusive breastfeeding is increasingly becoming a chimera. In short, the supplement, which is actually almost always a total meal replacement, also becomes an emotional supplement.

A heavy load of emotions, negative thoughts. A hurt that remains forever in the heart.

Prevention is better than cure!

Be prepared before birth, give birth in places with real support for breastfeeding ( if breastfeeding is what you want to do), and ask for help as soon as possible.

Those who recommend to supplement (even if supplementing is truly needed) WITHOUT other strategies of recovery for the milk supply, latch etc…, do NOT give the best help.

To eliminate the formula supplement we must understand the underlying problem, improve it and restore the virtuous circle that follows.

From the supplementing tunnel you CAN exit if that is what you want and feel is best. But it is done much more easily if action is taken immediately and the determination, perseverance and emotional and practical support of the people around us and the right professionals is STRONGER.

The first step to get out of it is in fact to stop feeling DOUBTFUL. It is necessary to take a position, with oneself and with other family members. In this journey we cannot vaguely say “I do a test and I see how it goes”.

This road requires a lot of work: roll up your sleeves and go on really convinced. And proceed step by step, one day at a time, with small goals getting higher and higher.

There are moms of course who feel totally different and at peace towards supplementing, independently from the reason that brought them to it. That’s great.

But if you are not one of them, remember that you have options.

And talking about options, I want to leave you with a lovely post by Sarah Poling, that shows a great example of a supplement alternative. Besides the bottle.

(Sarah is using an SNS (Supplemental Nursing System)

by S.G

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