Baby is nearing 2 months old. I've mostly been bottle feeding her breastmilk and supplementing with formula because she was two weeks early and is a bit small for her age. She's just started getting a good latch now that she's normal baby sized (7 pounds) and we're feeding from the boob more often. She's eating around 3 ounces of breastmilk and 2 ounces of formula with every serious feeding every 4ish hours, and usually has snacks of breastmilk throughout the day either from my boob or from a bottle.
So that's the background and here's the question. Breastfeeding is a great idea if you can do it, I know, and especially in this time of disease I want to give her every health boost I can provide. When does the benefit start to wane? When does the nutrition and antibodies boost stop being more effective than formula feeding? My nipples hurt, like if one brushes against my arm I cry out in pain. And of course due to engorgement I have to pump at least every 3 hours which means I can't sleep more than 3 hours at a time even if the baby is agreeable. I am, to say the least, sick of the process.
Pediatricians would never recommend you stop breastfeeding if you're able to do it, and local La Leche League is basically just a guilt trip for anyone who doesn't want to breastfeed through the kid's early teens. I know I've got several more months of breastfeeding to go; I'm just hoping for an honest answer regarding what month I don't lose any benefit by weaning her off.
Re: When does the breastfeeding return on investment start to dwindle?
It sounds like your question is more about how long YOU should breastfeed. That is a personal question no one can answer for you. At 2 months I wouldn’t expect it to still hurt, so that sounds like a latch/pump flange fit problem. A lactation consultant should be able to get that sorted out. Specific issues like that are good ones to take to LLL meetings for help.
But as long as your baby is fed, no matter how, that’s what matters. And your mental health matters too. If you feel like it’s more beneficial for your family (not just nutritionally for your baby) to formula feed, then do that.
With the engorgement and "having" to pump, you're sort of in a self-sustaining cycle. Your supply is regulated mostly by how much is removed. Being frequently emptied tells your body to produce more. So you're in a cycle where you pump, which tells your body to produce more, so you produce more and get more engorged and repeat. I would suggest reducing your pumping and pumping just enough to reduce the pain to help tell your body to slow down. Also, if you have that much of an issue with engorgement, you may be producing enough to where your baby doesn't need the formula anymore.