Lead author Dr. Valerie Flaherman of the University of California, San Francisco, and a pediatrician at Benioff Children's Hospital, said formula use has the potential to be a slippery slope to breastfeeding discontinuation, but early limited formula can increase the length of time mothers end up breastfeeding.
"Rather than giving full bottles of formula that make it hard for the baby to return to the breast, is a small amount of supplementation with a clear end point that alleviates some of the stress new mothers feel about producing enough milk," Flaherman said in a statement.
The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends healthy mothers and infants should breastfeed exclusively for the first six months for maximum health benefits.
Women do not immediately produce high volumes of milk after childbirth, but secrete small amounts of colostrum, which contains high concentrations of nutrients and antibodies for the baby.
During this period, babies often lose weight and new mothers are often concerned their babies are hungry.
"Many mothers develop concerns about their milk supply, which is the most common reason they stop breastfeeding in the first three months," said Flaherman.
The study, published online in the journal Pediatrics, said based on our findings, clinicians might wish to consider recommending the temporary use of small amounts of formula to new moms whose babies are experiencing significant early weight loss.