Tuesday, July 19

What Are Your Thoughts On The Matter?

My friend Laura showed me this letter she received from a well known, (highly recommended by my pediatrician) baby formula company.

You may have heard of them. Similac. No? Doesn't ring a bell.... 

As a parent who supplemented with this formula, I certainly would never judge another mother's choice  to feed their child whatever they feel is best. I never questioned this company's ability to provide top of the line powered milk for my son's growth and development. In the same token, knowing that beetle parts and larva (shivers) were in these cans of formula make my stomach churn. Not that beetle larva can kill my child, but dude! Grossssss!!!! Seriously Similac? For as gosh darn expensive (boobs are free...) and for the fancy shmancy name & packaging, you'd think they'd provide a product that was fool proof. Makes me wonder how often these man made formulas are contaminated. Makes me want to show this piece of paper to the mother who argued with me that the formula companies "almost" have all of the ingredients that breast milk has and that it's practically the exact same thing.... My boobs don't produce beetle larva last time I checked. 

I'm not a formula Nazi. Believe me. I used this stuff myself. But after reading {this book which totally changed my life, no kidding.} being around other nursing mothers, knowing how amazing my milk is compared with formula, my thoughts on breast feeding have completely changed. This whole thing really grossed me out. It makes me more eager to want to give breast feeding my best effort this time and not give up so quickly with it. Dustin said that he wants me to just forget that formula even exists so that I don't turn to it when the rubber meets the road and my nips are falling off and bleeding or I'm in pain from being engorged.... fun times.

I found this letter extremely disturbing to read, having been a mother who fed this formula to my first child. 
I don't mean to open up a can of worms..... but seriously, what are your thoughts? 

Did you use formula? What was your experience?
Did you breast feed? What was your experience?
***What is your advice for a mother (ME) who struggled with nursing. 
Would you ever consider giving your baby another mothers milk if you couldn't breast feed?

Whatever pearls of wisdom you successful nursing moms have out there, spill it!

What is the secret?


  1. I've breastfed for the last 9 months and have had a great experience. It hasn't been easy, but well worth the benefits. I've donated extra pumped milk to a local mom through Eats on Feets (via Facebook) and if I ever needed extra milk I would definitely consider milk sharing rather than formula. Not because formula is bad, but because milk sharing is a great 2nd option.

  2. I love your blog! I love nursing my daughter and things went pretty smoothly. Just a few things off the top of my head... :)
    -I had to press down on my baby's chin (for a month or longer) to open up her mouth really wide to help her latch. Otherwise it hurt like a B.
    -Use Lansinoh on your nipples. Mine would hurt so bad that I wanted to stop BF and this helps!
    -Go with the flow, relax, take time to just be with your baby, skin on skin.
    -Make sure people around you know it's important so they can help you relax and rest.
    -Nurse on demand.
    -Take the first 30-90 minutes after birth for skin on skin contact with just you and baby(or however long it takes for the baby to latch on).
    -Resting is SO underrated...new moms seem to be under so much pressure to return to normal so quickly. So just be sure to rest!

  3. i remember getting special coupon notifications at my grocery store when i'd bought similac months ago...YOWZA. scary stuff...

    sadly, my milk supply couldn't keep up with Brooks' appetite, nor how fast my flow was compared to a bottle of breast milk i pumped...he started to prefer the bottle more and more :( Anyway, i went to formula with Brooks much quicker than i anticipated and wanted. Hopefully i'll go longer with the next one.

    my plan: WATER and lots of it and lots of GREENS. my mom told me we're like cows. the more "grass" we eat the more milk we produce. haha True or not, spinach does a body good! ;)

    good luck Chelsea!

  4. I have no advice .... only my experience. I tried to nurse my first son (17 years ago) and was unsucessful. I don't know if it was because I was just too young and didnt know what I was doing...but I gave up after a couple tries and it didn't bother me to give him formula. During the second pregnancy (with Jude) I was all about the nursing. My husband was educated on it too and we decided that was the "only" way to go. I nursed Jude for two weeks, but I also had to supplement because I wasn't producing enough milk. I would nurse him then pump while my husband gave him a bottle. I was devastated that I was unable to nurse him. For two weeks I gave it a huge effort, all the while in complete pain (i need not explain). Still to this day I cry when I think that I was unable to nurse him, especially when I see other mommy's nursing. What a beautiful experience to share with your baby, not to mention the benefits to the baby. As for another woman's milk, NOT for me. It just sounds wrong. I wouldn't down someone for doing it though.

  5. I breastfed my son for almost 11 months. The only reason I stopped was because I couldn't get him to stop biting me. No joke. I tried everything people suggested, but the kid wouldn't stop using my nipples as chew toys. He actually chewed apart the nipples on some of his bottles after I stopped breastfeeding. That's how bad he was.

    Up to that point, things went great. I exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, then added homemade baby food. I feel fortunate to have not had the problems with breastfeeding that so many women I know have had. It wasn't terribly painful, I didn't have issues with supply and my son always had a great latch.

    All that being said, breastfeeding is a commitment. There were times I literally felt like a slave to my son (I breastfed on demand). I felt like I couldn't leave the house without him. I hated leaking all over myself and that seemed to happen all the time. And it took me a while to get comfortable breastfeeding in public (even covered up).

    Even with all my complaints (which are minor compared to so many) I am glad I did it. With my next baby (due in October) I hope to breastfeed for at least a year. I know it is best and it saves gobs of money. Plus, I am lazy and loved not having to make bottles in the middle of the night, but just be able to pull out my boob!

  6. That is kind of yucko:} I'm surprised it has not happened sooner though.

    Here is the secret:
    1)Eat like a pig the first 2 months to establish your milk supply before you even think about diet/exercising.
    2) Give one bottle of formula at night at 9 o'clock to give those poor boobs a break. And to help baby sleep. Otherwise you'll just be bitter and exhausted and will give up.
    3) drink tons of water and take Fenugreek tablets

    This advice coming from a mama with low milk supply and who nursed the last baby til age 2, despite the obstacles. You CAN do it! But only if you really want to. No shame in formula. It's helped me out a lot.

  7. This post written by my friend Desiree really helped me when I was struggling with breast feeding. I stuck with it and in the end came to really enjoy it. I truly believe that breast is best for baby for so many reason, yet I understand that it is a choice and I respect every woman's right to choose.
    Here's the post...well worth the read...


  8. read read read is the best advice i have. there seems to be sooo many factors that go into why people go to formula or feel like their supply isn't enough- everyone's bodies are so different you have to read about your options and figure out what will work for you.

    for example: some moms can't produce as much milk pumping as they can just feeding baby- and seeing 2 ounces in a bottle after pumping for an hour might make one panic... thinking that's all baby is getting while you nurse!

    my goal with all of my kids has been to nurse for the entire first year. i went only nine months with my first bc he wanted to go go go and just wouldn't sit to nurse anymore- and my second went the full year. the third will be here soon and i have the same goal.

    p.s. breastmilk poo does not stain!

  9. i breastfed olivia until she was 14 months and plan to do the same with Willow! i will admit it did NOT come naturally for livi. it was actually a nightmare the first month or so! i cried during every single feeding (and she did too!) because she didn't know how to do it and i didn't know how to show her! my hopes of it being this "beautiful" thing we both shared was shattered. ha...i never knew it just doesn't come easy for some babies! and boy oh boy was i NOT prepared for the PAIN! wow. i stuck with it though because i was determined to not have to spend money on formula when i already had THE BEST thing for my child for FREE. i would say if you can get past the first three months, it's smooth sailing from there. those are definitely the hardest and the times where you could so easily give up on it. you just have to be determined with it! i really utilized the lactation consultants around here. also, i learned that it became easier for her to figure out (and me!) if i was lying down on my side. try different positions!

    i was afraid the same thing would happen with willow, but much to my surprise she came out looking for my boob! haha...i put her up to my chest, she latched right on, and it was soooooooooo easy with her. she nurses like a champ. it's crazy the difference.

    anyway...that letter is so very disturbing. i hope i never have any kind of issue that results in my babies needing formula. but if i do, i will not being going with that brand! ICK!

    oh and ps- like the comment above. drink LOTS AND LOTS AND LOOOOOOTS of water. fruits and veggies are good, but if your baby ends up with tummy troubles you will definitely want to cut out some of those greens! anything that would make you gassy is going to make your baby gassy :)

  10. I nursed my daughter for 7 or 8 months. I also went back to work when she was 9 weeks old, so I spent a lot of time pumping early in the morning and while I was at work. My daughter got bottles during the day, but she never seemed to prefer them over the breast.

    Nursing worked extremely well for us; I nursed on demand, drank a ton of water, and learned how to nurse lying down so that it could be restful for me and baby. The reason I gave it up was postpartum depression. I was simply overwhelmed by my own expectations of what a "perfect mother" looks like and by my responsibilities at home and at work. I felt like I was spending so much time pumping at work that my work ended up at home with me where I most definitely didn't want it.

    I waited six months before I sought any kind of help (Christian counseling worked wonders), and I think if I had acknowledged this problem earlier, I could have gotten work and pumping under control a little better. I think the main thing is not to put too much pressure on yourself. Being a mom is hard enough without trying to be the perfect mom. You are going to be as much of a blessing to that sweet baby as he/she will be to you, breastfeeding or not.

    I would encourage all mothers to give nursing a good try and push through the difficult days, but to also remember that your sanity benefits your family more than breatmilk ever will. :-)

  11. i breastfed my first son with no issues at all. but when my second son was 5 months old, my milk began to dry up. i tried pumping for hours a day, drinking mother's milk, taking fenugreek. you name it, i tried it. we suffered through another six weeks of struggles and i just gave up. it was a realistic option to be pumping all day long when i had another child to take care of us as well. so we switched to formula. it hurt not to be able to nurse my youngest, but it was the 'right' thing to do for me (emotionally and physically.)

    with the breastfeeding/formula debate, i don't think there is any right or wrong answer. just different situations.

  12. I had an incredibly difficult time breastfeeding Sophie. Cried. for. weeks. It was an awful experience. My heart wanted to breastfeed so, so bad. Sophie was a bad latcher, I was inexperienced and uneducated on it. It was a recipe for disaster.

    But, let's get one thing straight. I HATE FORMULA FEEDING. Hate. It. I can still get emotional over it. I know it is still good for your child. But knowing I am giving her second best, just sucks. I feel guilty about not breastfeeding all the time.

    I am now pregnant with number 2 and I feel like I am morphing into you! Haha (that is a compliment). I am buying books like crazy, researching, watching videos. And I feel 10000000% confident I will succeed at ALL the things I wish to achieve this time around. I will succeed at breastfeeding this time around! Amongst other things I wish I could do over.

    Thanks for this post! Because it just reconfirms why I will NEVER formula feed again.

  13. Haley, thanks! You're so sweet!

    The books, AND the knowledge I've gained from my successful nursing mom friends have totally taught me so much about how to nurse. I think one of my favorite things I've learned so far, now having heard it from 2 moms is that it sometimes takes 2-3 months until both baby and mom get really good at it.

    Also, about eating right, taking suppliments to help produce more milk (fenuegreek), drinking raspberry leaf tea & mothers milk tea, water AND here's the big one, NOT SUPPLIMENTING with formula! From what I've read, it's supply and demand. So if I give formula sometimes, my baby isn't telling my body to make that extra milk that I'm not giving him/her. AND, last time around, i was so worried that he wasn't getting enough milk because i couldnt tell what he was eating, and I was so stressed and not relaxed or confident, NO wonder he had a hard time! He probably felt my vibe and couldn't relax as well....

    Last time, pumping and supplimenting was the way we went, but this time around, I'm dead set on nursing exclusively. I'm thankful that the option is there, but i'm going to give it a few MONTHS not WEEKS this time around before I throw in the towel.

    I too saw how inconvenient it was to make bottles, I know how much better breast milk is than formula (thank you Ina May!) and I'm prepared for the pain, so I kind of know what to expect a litttle bit.

    I too dealt with depression after I had my son. For the first few months, it was brutal. I've already talked with my midwife about the possibility of experiencing it again and she has an herbal arsenal for me if we get to that point again. I've also thought about capselating my placenta to help combat the baby blues.

    Anyway! Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it. It's a lot to consider! But I think it's really worth it in the long run. Your baby is only a baby for so long right?

  14. The only advice I have is DO NOT GIVE UP. There will be days, weeks that you want to because it hurts and you don't think it will ever get easier. It will!! You just have to get over that hump. If you feel discouraged, call someone who has done it successfully! They will encourage you.

    I didn't even give myself the option of supplementing. It was breast or nothing, so we made it work. Someone asked, "do you have formula in the house just in case you don't have enough milk or in case something happens?" I didn't because I never even thought about that. I was going to nurse. Period. And I did and still do.

    Oh and it's actually demand and supply.. when the baby demands it, you supply! :)

  15. First baby I gave up too quickly. I was not prepared for breastfeeding.

    Second baby, God blessed me with the slowest eater known to man and with a toddler running around...I gave up and went to exclusivly pumping for 8 months. Hardest thing and most stressful I have ever done.

    Third baby was my best breastfeeder. And I loved every minute of it. Until...my milk supply didn't produce enough fatty milk no matter what I did...the little guy wouldn't gain weight. So I added formula to the mix to get him to gain weight and it worked, but my supply was shot and he wouldn't nurse anymore. So I still pump/formula this time around.

    I never had the year long nursing experience that I wanted. But its ok. I have three fabulous healthy kids...and that is all that matters. Can't plan for everything...life is full of surprises.

    My advice - just relax and enjoy the moments you can do it. And just rest, eat right, and make sure to include baby Conrad too...so there is no jealousy when its feeding time.

  16. Under no circumstances, even my own death, will Norah or any other of my babies ever drink traditional formula. If something were to happen to me a have a number of people who will donate milk and we will supplement with a goat's milk formula recipe by Weston A, Price. My husband and I are appauled by modern formula. The first handful of ingredients are SUGAR.
    I wanted to die on a daily basis, didn't sleep for the first few months, and both of my babies have lips ties [ahem, their "bad latchers"] but I would never, ever give into the it's easiest route.
    Find a LLLI group, go to mommy dates with other clients of your midwife's, find support. This lie of "it's just not for some women" is so defeating. If that were true, up until the 50s, half of our population would have died because babies with mothers that thought it "just wasn't for them" wouldn't have made it. Learn to nurse laying down and you'll sleep through most of those night time feedings ;]

    Sorry if that offends anyone, but I desperately wish I could help every last one of you find the peace and satisfaction that breastfeeding CAN eventually provide for you and your baby.

  17. Nolie is a week shy of 20 months and we are still nursing strong and she has never had a bottle.
    The key for us, in the first few months especially, was to nurse often (like SUPER often) but for short periods of time. I had an outrageous supply and I credit it to super frequent nursing, not pumping and insane water intake.

    Also, I have pumped (recently) for a few friends with low supply and they supplement with other mamas milk (that they know well, or screen) instead of formula- with all of the FB groups (like Human Milk for Human Babies or Eats on Feets) it is super feasible to get BM for supplemental milk.

    Also, YOU GOT THIS MAMA!! I get weepy reading your new posts, I want everyone to come to the conclusions you are coming to, to become informed and empowered about what our bodies are MADE to do. I love reading this. Go, go GOOO!

  18. I was unable to breastfeed either of my children. Xavier had digestive issues that didn't allow him to properly digest milk proteins, so he had to go onto a hypoallergenic formula (Similac Alimentum) for almost 8mos, and Grayson is lactose sensitive and wouldn't latch properly. We've had no issues with formula whatsoever. Both boys are growing wonderfully, Xavier got sick MAYBE three times before he turned 3 (any illnesses after that I attribute to daycare), and Grayson is ahead of the curve developmentally and physically, and has caught one bug from daycare.

    I really wanted to breastfeed Grayson, and was determined in the hospital, but after two nights of endless screaming from him, my lack of patience, and frustration with the lactation consultant at the hospital, I broke down and asked for formula. I pumped for four weeks before we realized that he also couldn't tolerate the milk. We put him onto formula, and he was a completely different baby. I also pumped for Xavier, but that lasted about three weeks before we found out about his issues.

    I also had to go back to work almost immediately with both boys...7wks with Xavier, and 6wks with Grayson, which also contributed to me not BFing.

    I know that BFing is best, but for us, formula worked just as well, if not better.

  19. Oy. Lots to say about this subject ;) Like you said, you just have to be dead set on nursing. I had a fast, but extremely intense labor but the first 10 weeks of breastfeeding was MORE painful than the labor! But in my head, there was no other option. There just wasn't! I had also done my research on what is in formula and how it affects a baby's body (sorry if that's a toe stepper but...its fact) so it would really have to be life and death for me to put formula into my baby. Donated breast milk or raw goats milk formula would be my go to. Here's my tips:

    Talk it out. When you get overwhelmed, talk to other mom's who have been there. It was so nice to have women keep telling me "it will get better, I promise" And...it did! I LOVE nursing my daughter more than anything else in this world.

    Get Calendula Oil (**OIL-not cream or lotion). Put it on your nipples before and after nursing. It is safe for the baby to ingest. I had a blood blister a couple days after birth and it was gone by the end of the day. We have some at the birth center if you need it mailed to you. It's gold.

    When your milk comes in and you want to die of engorgement, fill a bowl with ice and water and use cold rags on your breasts. This worked wonders for me!! I have heard of some women using cabbage leaves, but I would be afraid of that sending the "dry up" signals. Personally, I wouldn't do it. It usually only takes a day or so for your production to even out. If you get desperate, you can take Tylenol. I did!

    Everyone is so right about the calories. You are supposed to eat 500 MORE calories nursing than pregnant. On days when I skip meals, I can tell that Hazel is not satisfied. It's crazy. Same goes for water.

    There's a homeopathic called Phytolacca (brand is Boiron. You can order it online or maybe even get it at a place like whole foods or central market). This is great for fighting off breast infections. If you feel one coming on, put a few pellets under your tongue and do it all day long.

    If you come to the end of the line and its just not working, I would get donated breast milk or make the homemade RAW goat milk formula. Remember that the Lord has ordained the health of this baby and the production of your milk. Relax and trust him to guide y'all. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, and everyone will be just fine. Fight, but fight armed with peace, confidence and trust. Not with anxiety, worry and fear. Your steps have already been decided. Know what I mean?

    Love ya! Proud of you!!

  20. A friend of mine used Similac, but switched to Nestle because her pediatrician recommended it when her baby was having trouble sleeping at night and he also said it is the best formula. Her baby has been sleeping better and feeling better. Maybe do some research on Nestle in case you need to use it.

    Hope you're feeling well and I'm so excited for you to pop that baby out! :)

  21. These are such great tips ladies. Wow!

    Keri, thank you for that bit of wisdom. Yes, I have to remember to rest and relax. The Lord will supply all of our needs, I need not worry. And I'm SO for all of the herbal stuff too. There are SO many more resources this time around that I have. I'm really prepared for the weeks/months of difficulty. We're both on a learning curve and it's not going to be easy (or maybe it might!) but I am so determined to get my baby to latch (even if it has a tied tongue or refuses to) AND, luckily, Dustin gets a few weeks off this time around to help me with a toddler running around!

    I've decided that I'll probably put conrad in a few classes that work around my mother in law's schedule so she can take him out to do fun things so i can bond with the baby and get this nursing thing down! I've also hidden a few toys from Christmas in our closet and new movies he hasn't seen yet so that when baby comes, he has a lot of new things to do at home to keep him happy and occupied.

    A friend of mine walks around nursing her baby and playing with her 3 year old at the same time. That is my goal.

    I can do this! I'm not going to let anything hinder me from being successful this time!

    Jessi, you're right! There is no reason for it to even be in the house! ;)

    Mae, there is a documentary coming out about america being the formula capital of the world and how it effects our health in the long run and they're attributing it to heart disease and obesity. Out of all of the other countries, we are the least breastfeeding our babies. Interesting stuff huh? I think culture plays a big roll in it too. We're bombarded with formula left and right so when nursing is too hard or we're "not making enough milk" it's so easy to give up.

    I did.

  22. I don't have time to read through all the comments right now because I am heading out the door, so forgive me if I repeat something already said. My first thought about formula was this: It was created to keep babies alive who had some sort of failure to thrive because they were intolerant of their mothers milk (and in those days, they didn't know as much about mothers going off certain foods to help this problem). Or for babies who couldn't latch properly due to some physical problem. It was never meant to be a complete substitute for breast milk! That happened (of course) through marketing. My mom nursed me and all my sisters, and was considered totally weird for doing it. People tried to talk her out of it and thought it was "gross". That was the norm back then (36 years ago). How fortunate we are today that there are so many support systems that are pro-breastfeeding! I nursed my first 2 and then nursed my 3rd for 2 really difficult months. He was small, really colicky and no matter what I did, my milk was thin and clearish and he had the worst digestive reactions to it. I finally switched to formula, and he could only tolerate the really expensive specialty kind. I honesty think he may have been one of those babies that had serious failure to thrive or nutritional problems if he had been born before the invention of formula! I was sad to miss the bonding of nursing, and the positive health benefits for myself, but SO relieved to have a happy baby! That's my story.

    Another tip...did Nina tell you about the milk catcher thingy she has? I have never seen one before last week, but how cool! Ask her about it. If I had it to do over again, I would get one of those!

  23. I breastfed my son for 15 months and loved it. And I'm not a professional but through observation and experience with friends I have found that the number one reason many women don't seem to have a good milk supply (in the beginning) is because they aren't eating enough. You have to eat like crazy to get things started. My mom stayed with me the first 10 days I was home with the hospital and she shoveled food into my mouth ever two hours or more. It was hard at first b/c your natural inclination is to want to start eating less and dieting now that the baby is out, but if I can recommend anything it is to EAT A LOT. (And who doesn't love that advice!)

  24. Jessica, i totally agree with you on everything you said. It should be a last resort type of thing, or it was meant to. Not to take the place of breast milk, and now our culture makes it so easy to believe that formula is best....

    I'll have to ask nina about the milk catcher..... interesting!

    Thanks for your input. I greatly appreciate it!

    So blessed to have so many amazing mom's to get advice from!

  25. The first 2 months were VERY HARD for me to breastfeed - Everyday i wanted to stop but somehow I kept going just saying I could do this, even with the cracked nipples, thrush, supply issues.. it worked out. I nursed for 10 months (she weaned herself)

    It is the hardest thing I ever did. But it got easy and by the end you dont want to stop.

    I found eating real oatmeal (not the instant kind) using fenugreek and mothers tea worked wonders :)

  26. Chelsea! Look at this site! It has nothing to do with this post but my friend is a lactation consultant and I saw this on her site and immediately thought of you!! http://www.mamamordolls.com/index2.php#/home/

    check out their VBAC dolls!

  27. I breastfed my son for 22 months, and I HATED it.

    BUT! I was determined to do it, so I stuck with it. I think the "hump" is different for everyone. For some, it's a few days, and for others, a few months before mom and baby really "get it." My son had a lot of trouble latching on at first—he'd open his mouth wide, but wouldn't close it!—by six weeks, he was a nursing champion.

    I agree with the World Health Organization: formula is FOURTH best. (Second best to breast milk from mother's breasts is mother's own milk in a bottle; third is another woman's milk in a bottle.) I would absolutely give my baby another woman's breast milk if I were unable to breastfeed or pump my own milk.

    ~ Noelle

  28. You can do it!

    As you already said, it's all about supply and demand. Don't supplement if you don't have to!

    Be forewarned though, even when latched correctly, breastfeeding can hurt sometimes. That is one thing that lots of people don't realize or aren't told. For some reason I have a much more painful and stronger let down T]this time around then I did the last two times. When my milk lets down, it hurts so bad for about a full minute that I want to cuss! But my little guy has gained 4 lbs in 6 weeks! Must be good milk. :)

  29. oh wow!! yikes...i remember when that all happened with similac :( we use similac powder and regular liquid formula. it is pricey and i would love to breastfeed but i didn't this time around :) maybe next time!