When to supplement your baby with extra milk.

Your health care provider may recommend you give extra milk to your breastfed baby. This may happen when:

  • Mom is very sick.
  • Mom and baby are separated.
  • Baby has a medical condition requiring extra supplements.
  • The baby has not regained his birth weight by two weeks or is not gaining enough with increased breastfeeding.
  • Mom has a low milk supply. The baby may need extra milk while mom’s milk supply is being built back up.

What to give

  1. First choice is always mother’s own expressed breast milk.
  2. Second choice is pasteurized human donor milk. Donor milk is available at some hospitals in Fraser Health only with a doctor’s prescription. It is used in small amounts when medical supplementation is needed and when it is available.
  3. Last resort is breast milk substitute (formula).

Steps to give extra milk

  • Wait until you notice early hunger cues like rooting, sucking on fingers.
  • Hold your baby close to your breast and skin-to-skin whenever possible.
  • Breastfeed first whenever possible.
  • Be sure to express or pump your milk each time you give your baby extra milk. This way your breasts will continue to produce milk.
  • Many mothers notice their babies will not go back to breastfeeding after getting bottles. Try options that are less likely to interfere with breastfeeding such as tube, spoon, dropper or cup feeding.

Bottle feeding

It is recommended to not give breastfed babies artificial nipples or pacifiers. If you prefer to use a bottle, try to make it as close to breastfeeding as possible.

  • Use a slow-flow nipple which is soft, round and broad at the base. This is more like breastfeeding.
  • Hold your baby in an upright position. This decreases the risk of tooth decay and ear infections.
  • Wait for a wide, open mouth (“root”). The rooting reflex is needed for breastfeeding. Brush baby's lips with the bottle nipple until her mouth opens widely. Don’t push or screw the nipple into the baby’s mouth.
  • The nipple should be deep in the baby’s mouth with lips on the wide base of the nipple.
  • Hold the bottle almost horizontally. The milk should just cover the nipple inside the bottle. This keeps the flow of milk slower. Avoid using bent bottles.
  • Switch sides from one feed to the next. This may help develop both sides of the brain.
  • Let your baby pace the feeding. Encourage frequent pauses. Feedings should take as long as breastfeeding does, so your baby knows when he is full.
  • Teach others. Everyone should give your baby a bottle in the same way to support breastfeeding.
  • Spend time skin-to-skin and continue to make breastfeeding attempts. Bottle feeding is often just done for a short period of time until your baby can get back to the breast.

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