Formula Feeding Saved Me as a Breastfeeding Mom

Say What!? 37

baby bottleI almost didn't make it as a breastfeeding mom. I took it all seriously, of course. I took a breastfeeding class while I was pregnant, and after I had my son, I pestered every nurse in the maternity ward to help me latch on correctly. I was surprised -- turns out breastfeeding doesn't come naturally after all, at least for me. It took a lot of practice and determination.

And even after I got a latch going, I wasn't exactly Lady Bountiful with the milk supply. And my son just wanted to nurse constantly -- all day, all night, always on the boob. Was it because he wasn't getting enough? I turned to the experts: La Leche League. I know these well-meaning people have helped countless moms. But wow, they sure led me down one crazy breastfeeding rabbit hole.

To be fair, La Leche League and other lactivists have done a lot of important work in protecting mothers' rights to breastfeed. I have personally benefited from this advocacy, and I'm grateful for it. Lactation consultants can be very helpful and supportive. These are all well-meaning people who do mostly wonderful, necessary work. That said ...

When you start breastfeeding, you start hearing all the stories from your friends about how lactation consultants and lactivists advised them. The gadgets, the balms, the teas, the pumps, the nipple shields! Who knew nursing could be so complicated?!? Before I knew it, I'd been drawn into the insanity. I was using a hospital grade pump in between nursing sessions. I was trying to drink a gallon of water a day. I was exhausted. I was ... I was starting to get angry! This was just ridiculous.

And then I got some advice from my sister-in-law. "Just top him off with a little formula. We all do it."

"NOOOO!" said one of my breast-is-best friends. "You'll dry up! Your baby will start preferring the bottle! You can't feed him that crap!" All untrue. Supplementing with formula SAVED MY BREASTFEEDING. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's true. Using just a little formula for the first couple of months gave me a break, ensured that my son was getting enough food, and helped us both.

And you know what? My son did not get nipple confusion. He still preferred the breast to the bottle. He loved nursing so damn much I finally had to wean him when he was 3 freakin' years old.

I think all the extra pumping and gadgets and measuring just stresses your body out. What a mom's body needs while nursing, especially in the beginning, is to relax. And if you need to supplement with a little formula to relax, so be it. I say, skip anything that causes anxiety and be open to whatever works.

Did you both breastfeed and formula feed?


Image via katerha/Flickr

baby first year, breastfeeding, formula


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Mrscj... Mrscjones

I formula fed but its nice to hear I had issues. Not your lazy if you give formula or all the other crazy rude things other moms say to prove how superior they are.

Angie... AngieHayes

Noway, have you ever tasted that crap, disgusting. I had two babies who were both boob babies all the way, one for a year and the other for 14 months, and they were always so healthy, big, and happy. 

miche... micheledo

I used formula with my first, just because I had the free samples and didn't know better.  Like your baby he DID NOT get nipple confusion.  But that was him.  I gave another child a bottle of breastmilk and he refused to nurse - preferred the bottle.  It took a day or two of insisting he nurse and letting him get a little hungry, before he went back to nursing.

I'm so thankful the first didn't have any confusion - but I think that is definitely a personality thing.

nonmember avatar annnnnie

uhhhh you breastfed your baby until he was three?!?! gross.

BUT anyway, I think that moms just try to make other moms feel bad. My mom used a multi-approach with me and I turned out JUST fine.

jhslove jhslove

My daughter didn't have nipple confusion, either. I exclusively nursed her for three months, then did a mix of formula and nursing for a month and at four months switched all the way to formula. She never had a problem, and she's always been extremely healthy.

I was planning to nurse for a full year, but I went back to work full-time when she was seven weeks old and I really underestimated how hard it would be to pump enough to keep up with her appetite (she's a hungry baby) while working full-time. I struggled with some guilt when I stopped nursing after only four months, but I don't feel bad about it anymore. Everyone just does the best they can, and unless someone is egregiously abusing or neglecting their child, no one has any right to judge.

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

This. Is. Why. I did not breastfeed. I didnt even try. I did not want to be angry or dislike nourishing my babies. I didnt want the stress. To this day im glad. I had PPD with my first and i probably would have died if id tried to bf her and had all these issues. It saved myself and my baby to give formula. Shes a healthy 7 year old now who rarely gets sick and is a healthy weight. It was worth it. Good for you for going with what worked! Alot of moms dont do that and stress and stress and stress. Just not worth it.

iicar... iicarmerin

You got to do what's best for baby and mommy. If you don't enjoy breastfeeding or it drives you crazy I dob't see a problem with switching. Breast is best but not always an option or convenient.

aeneva aeneva

If you really feel your child is not getting enough then I would recommend a supplemental nursing system with pumped milk or fomrula if need be to help boost your supply and avoid nipple confusion.  It does not have to be difficult and I was lucky and never had supply issues or nipple confusion with either of my children, but you do what works for you.

Gages... Gages_Mommy32

Annnnnnnie, you think that moms just try to make other moms feel bad? Kind of like saying its gross that she chose extended breastfeeding....hhhhmmm

Anyway, I breastfed and pumped after I went back to work and my son took a bottle at the sitter. He never got nipple confusion. He just ate what was put in front of him. I was lucky he wasn't picky. He still isn't picky even with solid foods. At 14 months, he eats whatever mom and dad eats. And still enjoys nursing just as much as he did in infancy!

tuffy... tuffymama

My three and a half year old is still nursing. I nursed the first one until he was two, when he self-weaned. Neither of my kids would even take breastmilk from a bottle, and I certainly would never feed a poor, defenseless baby formula. Yuck. I know what's in that crap. I feel sorry for people who HAVE to give their kids formula, and for people who don't know any better. It's really unfortunate.

I don't understand the creams and what-all list of crap...? I never used a nipple cream or anything like that. It was easy; he's hungry, he gets the boob. Many (most?) babies go through phases where they're supposed to nurse every hour. They put the extra demand on you so you produce more milk, but that doesn't work if you just stick a bottle in their mouths. It's simple to understand. That's why mine slept in bed with me. I had horrible PPD after ODS and severe adrenal fatigue after LO. Nursing saved my life both times. Also, LO is vaccine injured, and I can't imagine formula would have done anything to improve his health.

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