I often get asked how mums can reduce the amount of formula they are giving their little ones.
Here’s how the conversation usually goes:
“I’m topping up and every time I give him a bottle, he guzzles it down so I just know he’s clearly hungry and I’m surely not making enough or my supply clearly isn’t good enough for him. I’m desperate to reduce the amount of formula but I just can’t seem able to do so”.
This is the moment that we have to really unpack a lot of what is going on in the mother’s mind. Why is she giving formula, why does she feel she isn’t making enough, is she happy giving formula or would she like to reduce the amount for a specific reason (she wants to exclusively breastfeed), or maybe she wants to combination feed but is struggling to find the right balance for her?
This is when I talk about “top down”.
What is Top down?
An invention of my own (at least I’ve never heard anyone else talk of it so apologies if it’s a well known thing!)
Instead of giving a bottle after a feed, try and give a set amount at the beginning of a feed. Say 20ml.
That way you know your baby isn’t starving, but you can then give her the boob AFTER a bottle. Babies naturally take ALL the bottle after a boob feed, which in turn really screws up our head space “Oh no, my boobs are no good, she was starving all along”. This leads to giving MORE bottle and our milk supply going down. By ensuring that our milk supply stays high / increases, I suggest giving a set amount and then boobing. Your supply will stay high / increase and you can then work much more easily on lowering the amount of bottle at the beginning of a feed to zero (IF that’s what you want to do). So often the see-saw of the feeding game of boobs and bottles is that we top up with more and more and our supply goes down which leads to more formula and boobing less. To keep the see-saw in boob’s favour, try formula FIRST, then boob.
Altogether this is much better for our head space, much better for our milk supply, much better for baby and the ability to feel more in control of the bottle is generally better all round.
The most important thing is to keep the breast area a happy place for our babies. We know that breastfeeding is so much more than just feeding. It’s about love, it’s about comfort, it’s about safety and security. Top down allows the mother to increase her oxytocin which will continue to make more milk and help the baby to adjust to exclusively breastfeed, to continue loving the breast and not get frustrated.
Protecting a mother’s headspace is hugely important in breastfeeding success.
What is Paced Feeding?
When you give a bottle, be sure to do ‘paced feeding’. This is a way of getting your bottle feeding to mimic a breastfeed. It’s about slowing down the bottle so baby doesn’t guzzle quickly, it’s a way of helping baby go back and forth between breast and bottle. It’s about ensuring that the baby doesn’t overfeed from a bottle and it’s about keeping the relationship of the mother and baby as a conversation.
Here’s a great youtube video: https://youtu.be/OGPm5SpLxXY
You may also be interested in....
A Doula (pronouned DOO-luh) offers emotional, practical and signposting support to someone before, during and after childbirth.
I believe in “parenting the parents” – enabling new parents to have the most rewarding & empowered time that they can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as they step into parenthood. Research shows that if a parent is respected, listened to and heard, they are more likely to view their birth and the early days of parenting as a positive experience.
This can have a lasting impact on how the family copes with the changes of parenthood and the mental well being of each family member.