Feeding a baby is widely considered an ‘either or’ proposition. Either you breastfeed or you formula feed. The end.

Or is it?

Some mothers actually do both. While breastfeeding advocates contend that in the vast majority of cases supplementing is not medically necessary, there are oh so many reasons a mom might choose to breastfeed and offer formula. There are moms of premature babies stuck exclusively pumping when they had planned on exclusively breastfeeding; their babies got so used to bottles in the hospital they refuse the comparatively slower breast. There are Cancer survivors with only one breast. There are moms prone to depression and/or anxiety who need more of a break than exclusive breastfeeding offers. There are working moms who are having trouble pumping effectively at the office and on the road. There are moms nursing multiple babies at once. There are moms who just feel more confident knowing formula is there, available as a back up. Health issues or no health issues, some women who choose to breastfeed also want the freedom formula or donor milk provides.

While there is a fair amount of information available on medically necessary supplementation, there’s less on families who choose to hybrid feed to make life a little easier. Most of it is anecdotal.

If you choose to supplement your breastmilk and hybrid feed for whatever reason, it’s said to work best after breastfeeding is well established and your milk supply is strong. Too many bottles can sometimes lead to a baby refusing to take the breast and/or low breastmilk supply. Try to be consistent with the amount of formula or donor milk you offer. Putting your baby at your breast—the very act of them “asking” for milk—is what will keep your breastmilk flowing. Frequent nursing increases milk supply. The more bottles of formula you offer instead of breastfeeding, the less milk you’ll produce. If you feel like your supply is going down, put the baby back at the breast.

And keep in mind that the more breastmilk a baby gets, the greater the benefit. But you already knew that.