Leading author Dr. Laura Jana says there’s a new kind of mom emerging—a mom pediatricians call the “combo” mom because she both nurses and bottle feeds breastmilk or formula to her baby. Some experts estimate that by 6 months postpartum more than half of all moms are both nursing and bottle feeding their babies. As a combo mom herself, Dr. Jana shares how a little practicality can sustain nursing in busy lives.
Women are told that they need to feed their baby breastmilk for at least 6 months or more—but with busy lives, how can they succeed?
Speaking as a former combo mom myself, I can tell you that I was finishing my pediatric training and taking calls as a pediatric resident while my husband was a surgical resident when our kids were born.
There is this important push toward promoting breastmilk and breastfeeding underway yet it gets missed that nursing and using a bottle aren’t mutually exclusive. The fact is that bottle feeding is part of breastfeeding for this group we call combo moms. Moms need to get past this either/or idea to feel successful; they need to learn how to pump, especially if they’re not nursing around the clock.
With so many pump and bottle systems to choose from, where do you start?
When I bottle fed my kids 13 years ago, there wasn’t the array of choices we have today. Now we have bottles that are designed to simulate both the whole areola and nipple to more accurately simulate baby’s nursing. Some babies make the transition from breast to bottle to breast again easier than others—there’s no way to predict how your child will do. Look for a bottle more closely designed to be like the breast and that’s a good start.
Research shows that moms who have access to pump breastmilk at work actually have less absenteeism on the job. Why are women struggling to pump at work?
It’s ironic, given how much we know about the value of breastfeeding and breastmilk and the large number of women in the workforce, that people can freely take smoking breaks but we struggle to give women pumping breaks. We know how bad smoking is, yet it’s still more socially acceptable.
I was one of those moms who had to pump in a bathroom at work, and I was working in a pediatric hospital! We’re getting there but we’re not there yet. As an employer myself—I own a childcare center with 42 employees—we reinforce the value of nursing in the workforce. Breastfeeding women are healthier, and so are their babies. Breastfeeding moms who figure out how to organize themselves so that they can pump and conveniently store and feed breastmilk to their babies are typically the ones who are the most valuable at work.
Dr. Laura Jana, MD, is an Omaha-based pediatrician, health communicator, and author of Heading Home with Your Newborn and Food Fights. She was a guest speaker at a Playtex-sponsored symposium on infant feeding.
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