Breastfeeding, To Supplement, or Not?

I remember it well.. the clueless haze that surrounded me as a soon-to-be-first-time mom. I was pretty young too, with no mother as a source of support, I read everything I could get my hands on to prepare for my new arrival.

I remember feeling the conviction of giving my baby the absolute best I could offer and after reading countless material, that conclusion was to supplement breastfeeding with formula. With that winning combination, could it be wrong? ‘Cause you see, half the material I read from came from my doctor’s office, sponsored by Similac (or something like that).

When my sister asked me of my plans of feeding my coming baby, I told her confidently I was going to “supplement”. I remember it clearly…she cocked her head and looked at me wonderingly and said, “No, you want to breastfeed only.” I shrugged my shoulders, still enshrouded in the bliss of cluelessness. Now my sister and I are not close, mind you, but I have to say it was one of the best things she’s said, although she never gave reasons why I wanted to “breastfeed only”.

So baby arrives and is so precious, I don’t give formula a single thought. For whatever reason, I protested the nurses at the birth center pushing formula on me. I just knew instinctively it wasn’t right, as soon as I put that baby at my breast.

After two weeks of frustration, breastfeeding was a both a joy and a breeze.  I was immensely protective of this bond between my daughter and I as I nursed well beyond the recommended six months, exclusively at that. I nursed my daughter exclusively for almost a year. She had no interest in food and was hefty to boot.
But of course,  like every breastfeeding momma, I had naysayers. Opinionated, advice-giving, naysayers that insisted that I was nursing way too long and wanted to “babysit” my child, occasionally just to wean her. Mind you, I was young, while I didn’t vocally tell these people to “kiss my breastfeeding a**””, I nursed my child in defiance.

“Are you still nursing?” they asked.
 “Yes.”, I nodded.
 “…Hannah…you need to stop.”

I didn’t. I weaned my firstborn at 23 months in anticipation of returning to college…when we were good and ready.

Just today, I read this article on that compares the benefits of supplementing breastfeeding with formula and exclusive, extending breastfeeding:

“Babies who were exclusively breastfed had less acute respiratory infections, less ear infections, less thrush, fewer episodes of digestive infections, and fewer hospitalizations. This study included 926 infants over the course of 12 months. An interesting finding was that the protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding for six months resulted in less infections during the entire 12 months. Previous studies have shown less infections in breastfed babies; but many of these studies occurred in populations with poor medical care, and babies who were prone to more infections because of low standards of living. This study was conducted in a population of infants with high health standards and adequate medical care. 

This study was also different than others because it examined the effect of exclusive breastfeeding compared to partial breastfeeding with additional formula. Partial breastfeeding had no substantial protective effect. Apparently, formula feeding decreases immunity. The authors suggest that their findings suggest an immunomodulatory effect of breastfeeding "hampered by the introduction of formula feeding." 
Learn more:” –
I tell you, I cannot nod my head hard enough in agreement with this research. My children have been exposed to the chicken pox, well after they have stopped nursing…several times and have NEVER gotten it.  Out of 7 babies, I only experienced ONE incident of an ear infection. If you’re a new mom looking into the benefits of breastfeeding, let me encourage you to forget supplemental feeding as a choice and choose to nurse exclusively, as extensively as you can!

Seventeen years after being inducted into the community of breastfeeding moms, my 16 year-old, who will turn 17 in a week’s time, is a healthy, happy, thriving, successful teen who is enjoying her high school years.  Thank God, I never supplemented my breast milk  as I was deceived as it being the best of both worlds.

Author’s Note:
Let me note that my words of encouragement are directed towards moms who have a choice between  partial and exclusive breastfeeding. There are moms who do not have this choice and must supplement their breast milk with formula. For you, let me offer my (((hugs))) and encouragement to stick it out as best as you can, you’ll be glad you did!


  1. Thank you for a compassionately and honestly written article about your experience with & the benefits of breastfeeding! It makes me more confident to say to people, "Yes, you'll want to breastfeed!"

    I'm in awe of your nursing SEVEN babies! Good for them & YOU too!

  2. Thank you for stopping by! :)

    There's no question that my first breastfeeding experience was the catalyst for the rest of my children. I know no other way to feed my babes.

    To those struggling with BFing, physically, mentally or socially... HUGS... I am in your corner!

  3. I loved reading your story, great advice for new moms :)

  4. What a beautiful story! My son will be a year old next month and we're still going strong with nursing! He's just now starting to eat a lot of other foods, too, but I expect him to nurse til he's around 2 at least.

    Just wanted to offer that for moms who do have to supplement, there's the option of getting donor breast milk, too. The Eats on Feets program is going strong on Facebook and it's a great source for donor milk! I wish it had existed when my son was first born, because I had such and oversupply that I could have donated then!

    Visiting from Natural Parents Network!

  5. @Farmer's Daughter

    How funny is it that yesterday I happened across a link to that site. I didn't click on it, but was very curious about the name.

    Thank you for mentioning it!

  6. Wow, thanks for a great post... I am proud to say that FINALLY after three children, I am finally able to BF past four months:) YAY...
    Thanks for stopping by my Tuesday Blog Hop on The Adventures of My Family of 8! Shauna PS - I am following you EVERYWHERE Now!


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