My Initial Aim for Harvey’s first stage of feeding was:
To breastfeed feed Harvey with demand feeding at an attempted 3-hour interval.
To ensure that Harvey did not go hungry and received all his require nutrition
In order to prepare myself for breastfeeding, I wanted to understand the “anatomy of female breasts” and “how is breast milk produced?” After searching around for the best way to describe the process, below is the best summary I found:
For the first 4 months, breast milk and formula was the only food required for Harvey. As my milk production was low however, I required large amounts of stimulation to produce enough supply. The more stimulation you give, the more milk was produced. To increase my milk production, I did a lot of breast pumping and also took herbal/supplements such as ginger tea and fenugreek with the hope that this helped. The best stimulation however, is through actual latching/feeding from Harvey.
The first 3 weeks were challenging for both Jaz & I. We tried hard not to give Harvey formula and I was pumping milk at every opportunity I got. The rule of thumb for us was to pump every 3 hours. Despite the relatively high cost of the Medela double electric pump when we first purchased, it was a very good investment and worked very well.
Aside from using the pump to increase the milk supply, I have planned to express since the beginning so Jaz could do one of the night feeds. Also it is good to have the milk supply on hands for emergency purposes.
My milk production didn’t come in fully until around week 4-5. Harvey had not been exclusively breastfed, but was around 90% breast vs. 10% formula. Occasionally though, Harvey would hit a growth spurt (at around 3, 6 and 12 weeks) requiring more milk. During these times, the formula was used more.
Due to my initially low milk supply, breastfeeding was one of the key challenges for us. Once the milk supply kicked in however, life became much easier. Feeding patterns were inconsistent during the demand feeding as Harvey often wanted to feed more regularly than 3-hour intervals. It was good to have a plan, but flexibility was essential.
I will admit that breastfeeding did create a bond between Harvey and I. The downside for me was that it isn’t possible to measure the intake amount – unlike expressed milk or formula.
We tried 3 different types of formula; S26 AR, Novalac Gold and A2. S26 AR proved too thick which regularly blocked the bottle teat and frustrated Harvey. Thanks to Dad for noticing the blockage! Novalac had a short shelf life and we both were not satisfied with the outcome of that formula as we think it seemed to make Harvey uncomfortable. Hence we moved to A2 Platinum brand and found this product worked best for Harvey. We decided to stick with this brand.
We are definitely not anti-formula; Harvey was a mixed feed baby with 90% breast milk and 10% formula. The key to Harvey’s first stage feeding was to ensure that he gets enough food “Full Tummy = Happy Baby”
In fact we have found that society is putting a lot of pressure on the new mums to Breastfeed which can sometimes led to Mum being depressed if she is unable to fulfil the demand.
At the end of the day “your baby = your decision“
Harvey was exclusively breastfeed for about 2 weeks during his first 3 months. He was generally fed 90% breast milk and 10% formula. According to his 4 month maternal and child health services checked up, Harvey’s growth measurements were 6.2kg, 62.5cm and 41cm (weight, length and head circumference) which is within the normal range. He is a happy and a healthy newborn whether he is exclusive breastfeeding or mix-feeding, I do believe it is the most important development at this stage.