FFF Friday: “I’ve seen both sides…there is so little black and white.”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so. 

 

When I had Fearlette, I was really enjoying breastfeeding until the lactation consultant came in and informed me that there was “no way” I could nurse on just one side. I’d been doing exactly that for the first 24 hours of Fearlette’s life, due to nerve damage of “unknown origin” I had discovered in one of my breasts during my breastfeeding hell with FC. I knew I couldn’t withstand the pain again without heavy painkillers (not an option while taking care of two under two) and according to the hospital LC, I would have to pump religiously on my bad side in order to continue any sort of nursing relationship with my new babe. I had already promised myself I wouldn’t go to heroic measures to breastfeed when I felt confident as a formula feeder; it just wasn’t worth the risk of my PPD rearing it’s ugly and all-too familiar head. 

It wasn’t until months later that I questioned the LC’s advice. Why couldn’t I nurse on one side? If our bodies were made to adjust to our babies’ needs, couldn’t my body have adjusted to this situation? Couldn’t I have at least given myself the opportunity to try? Wasn’t there a possibility of some sort of happy medium?

Reading Brittney’s FFF Friday essay brought up these feelings once again. As she so wisely says, there is so little black-and-white – and yet we are treated as if every woman’s experience, every woman’s body, is one and the same. Without the shades of gray, I doubt we’ll ever be able to provide the right sort of support to mothers – the type of support that allows for supplementation, for combo feeding, for odd and individual nursing relationships. 

Here’s hoping we can get there, someday. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones. 

The FFF

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Brittney’s Story

 

I have so enjoyed Fearless Formula Fridays, but never felt my story was interesting enough or my writing talented enough to submit. But recently when Suzanne talked about the need for mothers who’ve seen both sides to be a part of the discussion, I decided I would share my story with you.

When pregnant with my first child, I heard all the benefits of breastfeeding, of course. I have seen many women in my family do it, and we were short on money… so of course I decided I would breastfeed. I went in optimistic but apprehensive, after all, I had surgery to remove a tumor on one breast, and I was told it would probably be ok but there is no way to know until you try.

 

My breastfeeding journey, like so many other women, was fraught with stress and turmoil. Both breasts made milk, but because the ducts were severed during surgery, one breast was painfully engorged and nothing would come out. Already down half my supply, days in I started supplementing with formula. Once I introduced a bottle, my son’s latch became worse and he was uninterested in the breast. The lactation consultant said if you do all the right things (extra pumping, fenugreek, drink liquids, etc.) your body CAN make enough. So I pumped. And pumped and pumped… every 2 hours around the clock at first. I seem to be one of those women whose body doesn’t respond well to pumping, because it was less and less each day. About 3 months in, when I was barely pumping half a bottle a day, I stopped. I was relieved to put it away, but I still struggled with guilt off and on that first year. I could see he was healthy and happy and intelligent. But some small voice (or the very boisterous voices on baby-themed internet message boards) told me that I obviously hadn’t given 100%. The regret resurfaced when friends had babies and seemed to effortlessly breastfeed their infants. They didn’t have to purchase formula, carry bottles, do dishes, and have bottles littering their kitchen counters. I envied their convenience and bonding time.

When I became pregnant with my second child I was determined to breastfeed, fixing some mistakes I had made and armed with the knowledge that I could only feed from one side. It worked! I may look a little lopsided, but that’s ok! It involved lots of pain and marathon nursing sessions (thank goodness for Downton Abbey DVDs at 3am!) but we are going on 9 months of breastfeeding. I know it’s not easy or automatic, so I am that much more grateful it is something I could experience. I am also thankful to be able to relate to both sides of the “debate” better. I grew to truly love breastfeeding, so I understand why people get so passionate about it. But I also know that formula is a good food for babies, and that you don’t understand another mother’s journey. Ultimately I believe that each mother does the best for her child, because no one loves them like she does.

There is so little black and white: in the research, mothers’ anatomy, babies’ inclination and individual circumstance. Many of those friends with seemingly easy breastfeeding relationships supplemented and eventually switched to formula when pumping at work became too much. Statistics say that most mothers do introduce formula at some point. And many of us start out breastfeeding in the hospital. So there are many of us combo feeders out there, whether purposeful or not. We can make sure that breastfeeding is accepted in public and supported when the assistance is desired. We can ensure that formula is safe, available, and the best nutritionally it can be. I hope I do my own small part to help mothers when I tell my story and speak up for women coming under judgment for their feeding choices, because I’ve seen both sides. And both of my sons are thriving and healthy and wonderful. I’m a blessed mother – blessed to produce milk from my body, and to live in a country with fresh water and accessible formula. I needed both.

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When you’re ready to share your story, send it over to formulafeeders@gmail.com. I don’t bite. Unlike my 2-year-old. 

 

Can breastfeeding concerns be overcome with support? Depends on what “support” means

Guess what? Women are having trouble meeting their breastfeeding goals.

Contain your excitement.

Apparently, this is news to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and every major news outlet in North America. The study causing such shock and awe came out this Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers used self-reported data (i.e., interviews) from 532 first-time moms giving birth at a particular medical center (can’t find where, and due to geographical differences in levels of breastfeeding support and acceptance, I think this is vital information that at least one of the articles could have shared with us). The women were asked prenatally about their breastfeeding intentions and concerns, and then re-interviewed at 3, 7, 14, 30 and 60 days postpartum. According to Reuters:

During those interviews, women raised 49 unique breastfeeding concerns, a total of 4,179 times. The most common ones included general difficulty with infant feeding at the breast – such as an infant being fussy or refusing to breastfeed – nipple or breast pain and not producing enough milk.

 

Between 20 and 50 percent of mothers stopped breastfeeding altogether or added formula to the mix sooner than they had planned to do when they were pregnant.

 

Of the 354 women who were planning to exclusively breastfeed for at least two months, for example, 166 started giving their babies formula between one and two months.

 

And of 406 women who had planned to at least partially breastfeed for two months, 86 stopped before then.

Given these results, the study authors come to the conclusion:

Breastfeeding concerns are highly prevalent and associated with stopping breastfeeding. Priority should be given to developing strategies for lowering the overall occurrence of breastfeeding concerns and resolving, in particular, infant feeding and milk quantity concerns occurring within the first 14 days postpartum. (Source: Pediatrics)

 

The headlines, as usual, were both amusing and infuriating. “Nursing Troubles May Prompt New Moms to Give Up Sooner”. “Early breastfeeding challenges make women quit.” “Some moms discontinue breastfeeding within two months die to nursing difficulties”. And my personal favorite, “95% of breastfeeding problems are reversible.”

One might easily blame the media for their usual skewering of the science to make for a juicier headline, but one can hardly blame them when the experts giving interviews about this study say things like, “It’s a shame that those early problems can be the difference between a baby only getting breast milk for a few days and going on to have a positive breastfeeding relationship for a year or longer… If we are able to provide mothers with adequate support, 95 percent of all breastfeeding problems are reversible.”

So, what’s my issue? I think the study is fine. Sort of a no-brainer, considering they could’ve came to the same conclusion years ago had they just listened to moms instead of insisting we just needed more convincing of the benefits of breastfeeding, and we’d all magically lactate to the satisfaction of the World Health Organization. But the quote above (from Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, one of the study authors) makes me wonder if the results of the study are being taken in the wrong context.

The focus is on moms not getting enough support –  something that I 100% agree needs to be focused on. Like, yesterday. But where the experts quoted in these articles and I part ways is on what type of support is needed. This passage from NPR illustrates my point:

The researchers didn’t do physical exams of the moms and babies, so they don’t know what was happening for sure. But they speculate that some of the first-time mothers may have misread the babies’ cues, mistaking fussiness for hunger, for instance, or thinking the babies weren’t getting enough milk when they’re doing just fine…

 

Once again, the assumption is that women are wrong about their bodies, and about their babies. The study authors surmise that access to lactation consultants in the first week postpartum, after hospital discharge, will be the solution to many of these problems. Again, I absolutely agree that this is a great start. And yet – reading through the scores of FFF Friday stories, I have to wonder… is this really going to make a difference, given the current state of our breastfeeding culture? How many LCs have we all seen, cumulatively? How many were bullied or shamed by medical professionals? How many of us have been told our babies were fine, only to end up in the ER with a dehydrated infant? How many of us were told – by professional lactation consultants and pediatricians – that every woman can breastfeed, and that we should just keep on nursing and it will all work out?

Looking at this study, this is what I see: a ton of women are claiming to have pain, trouble latching, and concerns that their babies aren’t getting enough milk. NPR also reports that the group with the least amount of reported problems was comprised mostly of women under 30, and women of Hispanic origin. That begs for further research, doesn’t it? Could age and legitimate lactation failure be associated? What about race/ethnicity? Are there conditions more prevalent in older, non-Hispanic populations that are also associated with breastfeeding problems?

And this is what I also see: We have an opportunity – no, a responsibility- to look at the type of support these women are getting. Is it truly evidence-based? Or is it based on dogma; on the belief that “95% of breastfeeding problems are reversible”? (By the way, I am super curious about the research backing up that claim.) Are the individuals giving the support truly listening to the mothers, examining them, considering the delicate balance of hormones necessary for lactation, or the effect of emotional or physical trauma around birth on a woman’s ability to withstand latching pain or her infant’s cries? Is there nuance? Are these mothers being seen, or are they being treated as uniform breasts, needing to be “handled” so that they can fulfill their duty of providing exclusive breastmilk for 6 months?

I’m not knocking a study that advocates for more support for moms. I simply want us to open up the discussion, rather than going in circles, with the same researchers and the same experts telling us the same things – if mothers only knew better. If they could only be taught to recognize their babies’ cues. If they would only listen to us. 

I think it’s time they listened to us, instead. Which brings me to what I’d really like to see from this study: a follow-up where they ask the women who “failed” to meet breastfeeding recommendations what they think would have helped them reach their goals. Because without that piece, I really don’t think we can get very far.

 

FFF Friday: “The thing that amazed me the most was the public assumption that I would breastfeed”

Welcome to Fearless Formula Feeder Fridays, a weekly guest post feature that strives to build a supportive community of parents united through our common experiences, open minds, and frustration with the breast-vs-bottle bullying and bullcrap.

Please note, these stories are for the most part unedited, and do not necessarily represent the FFF’s opinions. They also are not political statements – this is an arena for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and I hope we can all give them the space to do so. 

Today’s FFF Friday will probably cause a fair bit of controversy, but I think it’s extremely important to hear from women who made a conscious choice not to breastfeed, despite being educated about the benefits. And just like Nicole’s piece from last week, Amy’s story is brutally honest – and brutal honesty can sometimes offend. But in order for us to create real, positive change, we need that kind of honesty. We need women like Amy to say hey, this is my story, this is my truth, and I’m not asking you to approve of it, but simply to hear it, and accept that I have every right to make my own decision. It takes bravery and a strong sense of self to be on both the speaking and listening side of that type of conversation.

I am confident that the FFF audience has both those traits, in spades. So I’m going to let you all go to it, since my 2.5-year-old is getting uncomfortably close to an overly full cereal box….

Happy Friday, fearless ones. 

The FFF

***

Amy’s Story

I’m proud to say that I’m one of those 30% who didn’t try breastfeeding, and this is my story about feeding.  Pre-pregnancy I viewed breastfeeding as archaic and unnecessary, something only modern hippies did.  It was something that people did back in the day, but because they didn’t have a better option (sort of like why would you use an outhouse, if indoor plumbing is available?) It’s much easier to judge these things before you become pregnant (remember this was when your imaginary kids were always well behaved and clean).   And I was surprised the first time I was pregnant how popular breastfeeding was, because I still couldn’t understand why you would choose to breastfeed.  Then I started getting the books, the magazines, and visiting all the mommy-to-be websites. I learned how much better it breastfeeding is, and how really good moms always breastfeed.  But I was still unsure – my siblings and I were all formula fed, we seemed healthy and normal enough, was breastfeeding really some sort of magic to have instantly better babies?  Deep down though, I still felt breastfeeding was wrong for me, so I continued to prepared to formula feed.

But then, these thoughts ran through my head…But what about the cost?  I was going to be on maternity leave for 12 weeks with only two weeks of paid leave at 60%, could we get by with spending $20-30 per can of formula?  Even when I tried to research how much formula I would need at first, once again breastfeeding came up, because if I was a good mom I won’t need formula.  In fact one site told me, that if I was adopting I could pump myself full of hormones so that I could breastfeed…is that even healthy? This made me a little suspicious, would pumping yourself full of hormones really be better?  That’s when I decided to do a cost analysis for the the first 5 months of my baby’s life (3 months of maternity leave, 2 months to get our budget back in place (haha, as if this really happens after baby).  I found out that I only saved $10, and I also found out that the idea of breastfeeding really upset me, made me nauseous, and I was almost in tears by the end of the cost analysis.  That’s when I told my husband, who had been hearing the same breast as best propaganda,  that I didn’t want to breastfeed, that it seemed unnatural for me.  I felt it was worth the extra $10 to be able to enjoy motherhood and to not feel sick about feeding my baby.  He was concerned about the health risks, so I promised him, that I would wait and see after giving birth how I felt, since maybe once you give birth you suddenly have the desire to breastfeed, and maybe that’s when it seems natural?

I arrived at the hospital at 6am on October 4th, 2011 to be induced since my son was taking his time (9 days late).  After spending most of the day in between sleepiness, hunger (I’ve never been so happy to eat lime jello in my life), watching a lot of law and order, and starting the early stages of labor, I woke up to find two nurses and my doctor breaking my water.  My son’s heart monitor had gone off and they needed to use an internal monitor.  At this point I was at 2cm after using Cytotec for induction all day.  I had started the systemic drugs, and was feeling pretty loopy.  The doctor gave us two options, have a c-section now, or try the Pitocin, but probably have a c-section.  I honestly felt drunk, I couldn’t make a decision  I didn’t plan on having a c-section – I’m one of 5, my dad is one of 8, women in my family are very good at having babies, I was going to try to avoid the epidural, so I didn’t even think a c-section could happen to me.  I told my husband to make a decision, and he said he couldn’t on his own, so I told him to call my mom.  To my surprise, they opted for the c-section.  After a bit of time, my 9.5lbs, 23.5 inch long son joined us and I instantly loved him.  But that desire to breastfeed never came.  Luckily, the hospital I delivered at did not judge me on my feeding method. I was asked breast or bottle, and then after choosing bottle, what brand.  My heart goes out to those mothers who are forced to try one feeding method or another.

The thing that amazed me the most was the public assumption that I would breastfeed.  Co-workers would let me know that our insurance would cover some pumps (I told them I was on my husband’s insurance to avoid this conversation .  People would ask my how my son was taking to nursing, and I would quickly explain to them that he had trouble with regular formula, so they switched him to soy at the hospital.. When I returned back to work I was informed that if I needed to use the mother’s room to talk to HR to get a key (just to make this clear, they locked the door because they caught people napping in there, not to deter mothers who want to nurse.) It was so strange to me that others would assume that I was breastfeeding, especially those who had children.

A few weeks after my son was born, I joined a mommy support group sponsored by the hospital.  We shared stories of birth, pregnancy, late night feedings, and general adjustment to our new lives.  It seemed like everyone was breastfeeding, but I was not alone – two of my new mommy friends also formula fed.  As the weeks went by, I watched many of my fellow moms struggle with breastfeeding and by the end of the six weeks many of them were on formula.  It pained me to see them so upset that breastfeeding wasn’t working for them, I have a lot of respect for breastfeeding moms, it sounds exhausting.  I didn’t realize how much guilt they would experience, since to me, formula was the best choice, and honestly, as long as your child is eating, does it matter?

Further along into my adventure into motherhood, I finally understood the guilt felt by these mothers.  Not that I felt guilty for choosing formula, but I hated that some circles of mothers would make me feel less than.  Talking to other new moms after a library story hour, when to their horror they found out my child was formula fed.  Clearly I was uninformed, didn’t I know how amazing breastfeeding was?  How was I going to bond with my child?  Wasn’t I concerned that I was increasing my child’s chance of cancer, infertility, gastric problems, and ear infections?  Clearly, I’m a terrible mother.  Then slowly, the circle of moms got smaller, where I physically was no longer part of the circle. How could I relate? I couldn’t talk about how many ounces of milk I had in my freezer, my child’s favorite nursing position, or how I was going to nurse for 3 million years.  I now understood why the moms who couldn’t breastfeed felt guilty, they were pushed out of circle, but not by choice.  And apparently, formula feeding is a slippery slope, next thing you know I’ll give my baby fast food and cigarettes, because I can’t be trusted to make healthy choices for my child.

I hate that there is a group out there that has decided that formula feeders are lazy and/or uninformed.  I am neither, I’m the one up at 3 am scrubbing bottles because in exhaustion we forgot to clean them before bed.  I’m the one carrying six canisters of formula and a baby through Target.  I’m the one making sure I have bottles filled with water and filled formula container along with diapers, wipes, toys, pacifiers, and a change of clothes.  This was my choice, because breastfeeding was not the best choice for my family.  I won’t have the luxury of finding it funny that I woke up in the middle of the night with a baby on my breast, because my husband stuck the baby on there when it woke him  up.  I will not get to gossip with all my friends about how amazing breast milk is on cradle cap, poison ivy, or eye infections. But I love cuddling, playing, and snuggling with child without having a barrier of the obligation to breastfeed – something that I felt would make me resent my child.

 

I’m pregnant with my second child, and this time I wanted to be prepared.  I plan on choosing formula again, and I want to be able to prove I’ve done my research next time I get kicked out of a circle.   I hope someday we can get to a point where we all realize that what’s normal is feeding your baby is normal and it doesn’t really matter where it comes from.  That we stop indoctrination of moms with information about what is best, but give them the realities of the situation.  The important thing is to feed your child, safely, and that no matter what you do, someday your kid will get sick.  Food is not a magic health solution.  You will bond with your child if you pay attention to him or her.  Lastly, you are not less of a person because you made a different choice or had to give up your original choice.  You are a good mom, because you meet your child’s primary needs of love, care, and comfort, not because of one parenting choice.

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Have a story you’d like to share for FFF Friday? Email it to me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

Advice for formula feeding parents, from other formula feeding parents

There’s an embarrassing lack of support in the early postpartum period for all women, including those who are formula feeding. While breastfeeding moms are understandably in dire need of lactation clinics and LLL meetings, there’s little to no practical support when you’re feeding with a bottle rather than a breast, and even less emotional support. And god knows we all need support… breastfeeding and bottle-feeding alike.

This morning, I posed the following question to the FFF social media audience, both on Twitter and Facebook:

“If you had to give one piece of advice to a new formula-feeding mom, what would it be?”

 The answers were fast, furious and fabulous. I thought it would be nice to post some of these comments on the blog, to provide a collection of informative and self-affirming tidbits to struggling new parents – kind of like our own “virtual” bottle-feeding peer support group.

So, here you go: a random, but beautiful, collection of sentiments and practical tips for those bleary-eyed new moms and dads, peering anxiously at the formula can, measuring out scoops of powder with shaky, sleep-deprived hands. You’re doing a great job. And we support you.

The FFF Community answers the question: “If you had to give one piece of advice to a new formula-feeding mom, what would it be?”

 

Emotional: Love YOURSELF and your BABY. There is nothing that matters more on a mommy’s long list of concerns. Don’t let the people who challenge/doubt that love even make the list! You have enough to worry about without wasting precious time on them. While loving your baby is just about the easiest thing ever, loving yourself may take a little work and practice. That’s ok! Take the time to bathe and breathe!  You really do need/deserve it. Practical: Even when you’ve done your research your child’s specific digestive system may not agree with your findings of the “best formula”. Don’t stress it! Move on to the second best on the list and keep going until you find the one that works for your baby. It’s better to find what works best for them than to have the best according to “whoever”. And don’t be afraid to ask questions of your pediatrician! Not only are they expecting it from the new mama but they often have information to help ease a decision you’re unsure of. They don’t expect you to know it all and won’t make you feel like an idiot for not. Promise! – Jessica

 

Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for feeding your baby formula. You are the Mom and therefore you know what’s best for your baby. As long as the baby is happy, fed, and loved then you are doing it right. – Alicia

 

If you tried to breastfeed, but were not able to for one reason or another, mourn that loss and then move on! Parenting (and life in general) is so much bigger than this issue (although when you’re going through it, it seems like it’s EVERYTHING). Be thankful for the beautiful child in your arms, and remember how many women would give anything to have a child. What a baby eats in his first year of life is comparatively small potatoes when you consider everything else. Soon enough, you’ll be agonizing over choosing schools, when to let your child go on sleepovers, how to explain the birds and the bees, and how to handle bullying. Do not let how you feed your baby in these first few months get in the way of enjoying your new baby. – Amy

 

Breast feeding doesn’t work for everyone, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Enjoy your baby. They’re only little for such a short time, so don’t waste it second guessing yourself and trying to please others and their ideals. – Emma

 

Treasure these moments. Babies grow so fast! It sounds like a cliche but you are making memories that will last you a lifetime. They will spring into your head when you watch your child’s first bike ride, their first day at school. You will think, “where did the time go?” and later, ” how is it my baby can look me in the eye standing?!?!” Enjoy every minute of awesome squishy babyhood. And ignore pointless criticism from people who know “f” all. -Jo

 

Throw away the sample packs that come in the mail and pick out the formula brand you would want for baby. It sounds simple, but I found my self switching to formula feeding from breast b/c my milk wasn’t coming in and grabbed one of my sample packs, which happens to be one of the most expensive brands. Luckily, Target makes a generic brand of several major formulas. – Elise

For the parents who make up one bottle at a time the ounce markers are for RTF formula. So if you use powdered formula the marks on the bottle are not correct. For example 6oz of water fills to the 5 1/2 mark on my bottles and is right at 6 when I mix the powder in.       -Elizabeth

 

It is MORE work than breast feeding as you need to watch for hunger/satiety cues and will be doing “the dishes” for a year plus, but it is just as rewarding as breast feeding. Do not listen when the lactation police say you will have a dumb baby or a fat one. Pacing feelings and watching cues will prevent over feeding. Hold, love and cuddle your LO and know you are a good mom. – Megan

 

There is no such thing as too many muslins and bibs and enjoy watching your friends & family create a bond with your baby too as they feed him/her – Roberta

 

Don’t sweat formula feeding in public. Every cafe, restaurant, cinema and airport that bubs and I have been to have been great about warming bottles for me. I have received no nasty looks or comments. Most people understand… And you can leave bubs with family and have some couple time! – Clare

 

Don’t feel guilty! A happy mom is a happy baby! A friend mentioned yesterday bottle-fed moms probably bond even more with their babies since they can look in your eyes while you’re feeding:) – Michelle

 

It’s not poison. This way you can get help from hubby with mid night feeds, as a new mum your not superwoman …. you need rest too. – Tanya

 

Momma knows best! All that matters is your baby is well fed, and well taken care of. Also, keep a back bottle in the diaper bag! Nothing like leaving the house, and forgetting the bottle. – Jessica B.

If you aren’t able to wash the bottles right away, I’ve found a good tip to keeping them from getting icky is to rinse, refill with fresh tap water, put a drop of dish soap in and let them soak that way. The soap will dissolve the milk and oils making scrubbing them clean later a snap. Plus no smelly bottles! – Melissa

 

When you’re feeding your little one a bottle, just be in the moment. Connect with your baby. Doing this and realizing how feeding my baby a bottle was so much more of a bonding experience than it ever was when I struggled to breastfeed really helped me get over the feelings of failure. – Erica

 

Be easy on yourself – Caitlin

 

 

There is nothing wrong with formula feeding. Your child will be just as happy and healthy as any other child. Oh and don’t read all the scare-mongering articles about breast/bottle online. Studies actually show that maybe breastfeeding is a little better. Funny how when portrayed to the public they only pick out the ones that show bf babies as healthier. Never mind the thousands that show absolutely no difference whatsoever. – Michelle

 

Buy a Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine its saved my household & no screaming baby & no testing formula made to right temperature everytime – Charley

 

You don’t always have to warm it up if you use room temp nursery water for blending. -Zachalis

 

Nuby Milk Powder Dispensers are the best formula dispensers! The formula slides out and actually into the bottle instead of the floor, counter, table, etc! Also – for the powder feeders, make a nighttime basket. We put water in our bottles, load up our formula dispensers and then all we need to do at 3 am is drop the powder in. – Amanda

 

For the powder feeders, make a nighttime basket. We put water in our bottles, load up our formula dispensers and then all we need to do at 3 am is drop the powder in. – Susie

 

Get a Sam’s club membership. You’ll save TONS on their store brand formula AND diapers. – Holly

 

Start baby out on room temp bottles. They don’t know the difference if they have never breastfed and it makes life A LOT easier down the road – Jennifer

 

Try a formula that is 100% whey (whey is protein that is already broken down, ‘casein’- their tummies have to work alot harder to digest) for newborns, unless they are very hungry babies then a formula with casein is good. Our poor bubs was struggling and in pain but once we found a formula that was 100% whey she is so much better.  – Megan

 

Go for the bottles with as few parts as possible, buy as many as you can. Wash and sanitize in the dishwasher if possible. Get a formula mixing pitcher and enjoy feeding in a rocking chair using your boppy pillow. I loved ff my son, it was special looking at him and rocking while he drifted off to sleep! – Kimberly

 

Read about formula. I can’t believe I didn’t know that traditional formula is just cows milk with some modifications to protein, etc. It’s not chemicals – just a slight variation on a food I eat all day. Helps me to remember that it is nutritious. – Maegan

 

 

I’d just say “You’re doing it right!” – Sarah

 

The advice my pediatrician gave me. “Feed your baby ….stop beating yourself up, breast feeding doesn’t work for everyone. Do you want to look back on this special time with your child with regret??Enjoy your son.” I love my son’s pediatrician. – Loreen

Keep in mind that the directions on the back of the tin are for a 50th percentile baby for that age…my boy has always been 97th percentile so I realised early on that the ‘recommendations’ were never going to work! I’m taking part in an Australian formula study with University of Queensland and for his weight my boy is meant to have 240mls but the tin says 180mls, since upping this I now have a boy who sleeps from 9.30pm to 5.30am!! Oh and just love your baby. – Skye

 

A thermos of hot water and prepackaged powdered formula sticks make traveling MUCH easier. No worry about spoiling formula or waste. You can use what you need as you go. – Kathryn

 

If you can get a kitchen scale, measure the powder out by weight, not by scoops. It will be more consistent and accurate. My son has reflux and adjusting the measurement helped a lot and we used less than before.   – Amy

 

I just switched to playtex bottles with throw away liners…I wish I would have started 8 months ago because it saves so much time in cleaning- more momny time : ) I also do bottles room temp. Less spit up. – Kristen

 

Ignore anyone who tries to make you feel bad, you’re feeding, loving, and bonding with your baby in your own way and in your baby’s eyes the sun and moon rise and set because of you, no matter what you feed them – Amanda

 

Babies need food and loving, caring, nurturing parents give it to them however they can. They key is to be present, look in those little eyes, warm up that tiny body with yours and the rest will fall away in love. – Stephanie

 

Delete anything and anyone who is a negative cloud out of your life. Those BF FB support pages and groups will only remind you of what you “didn’t try hard enough” or what you “didn’t try at all”, delete online friends or even real life friends who put you down in anyway! Learn early on to tell others to F*** off if needed! – Mindy

 

After a feeding, always open and rinse the bottle at your first chance. hot, old formula is NASTY!! – Beth

 

 

Mums still count when they have a baby. You don’t want to breastfeed, then don’t! – Victoria

 

 

You are a rock star!!!!! – Jennifer

 

Your baby loves you no matter how you feed them, and you love your baby enough to feed them. When they’re school age, you won’t even care about how it all happened! – Karly

 

Formula is not the new “f” word. Stand by your decision and move on! – Linda

 

Expect to be made to feel bad but realise that you are not! – Jamie

 

Pick one night a week, give your husband baby duty, and go sleep all night! Embrace your choice! – Abby

 

Most people (at least in my experience) really don’t care how you’re feeding your baby. They just want to see your adorable baby coo and smile at them! Guilt plays too big a role – embrace the fact that you love your baby and whatever you do, it is the vest option for your family. Enjoy your baby! – Emily

 

Take no notice of the mammary militia. Formula is not poison!! -Karyn

 

Always hold your baby while feeding the bottle. You still have that eye contact and connection/ closeness. – Kerissa

 

Welcome to motherhood, now, surround yourself with uplifting people. -Vera

 

Don’t waste your time or energy feeling badly for how you provide nourishment to your baby. Use it to love on and care for him/her. – Kristen

 

Prepare multiple bottles ahead of time so when baby is hungry you can just pull one out of the fridge rather than mix it. – Amber

 

Enjoy it- it is wonderful! Oh- and Dr. Brown’s formula pitcher is awesome! – Trish

 

Try everything until you find what makes YOUR BABY happy! Each and every baby is different you may never know what will work best until you try it all. Try different bottles, different formula, and different recommendations till you find what makes your baby and you happy! – Erin

 

Focus on your baby, not the background noise.. breast is the best way, but it’s not the only way, and you are not poisoning your child. If you are happy and sane, that’s the most healthy thing you can do for your baby. – Alison

 

Support yourself with people who support you and believe in yourself – Nic

 

You will become so efficient at making bottles, when someone mentions how quick they can feed their baby by breast, go right ahead and brag about whipping a bottle together in 30-45 seconds. I know I did/do!  – Megan W.

 

Don’t read anything online regarding breastfeeding. It will just drive you crazy! Don’t sit in the rocking chair hooked to a pump for hours and hours a day like I did. HOLD your baby, smell them, stare at their beautiful face. You are the Mom. NO ONE can do that job for your child any better than you. Remind yourself this every single day. Your baby loves YOU not the bottle or boob. – Dana

 

If you got here and it wasn’t part of your original plan of how motherhood/feeding was “supposed” to go…it is OKAY. How you feed your sweet baby does not and WILL NOT ever define you as a mommy. Just love on that baby and enjoy the perks of FF–family being able to help, being able to take time away when you need a break, and (a big one for those type-A folks like myself), knowing just how much your baby is getting. Perhaps more importantly, DO NOT allow others to brow beat you or shame you for how you are raising your child. – Rosemary

 

Get a formula dispenser, fill it up and ur bottles with water so at night its already to mix! So helpful it have 2 story house! Can use the bathroom sink to warm it up. Oh take a shower everyday you and baby will feel better! – Shelley

 

Cut yourself some slack and enjoy your baby. Soak up all the tiny humanness. – Peyton

 

Your baby will be healthy and smart! How awesome are our kids to be so perfect despite the fact they didn’t have breastmilk?! – Elizabeth

 

You didn’t fail and your baby will THRIVE with formula -Megan D.

 

I don’t use the term “Breast is Best” I use the term “Mom knows best” but mostly if you’ve had women coming up to you telling you off for buying formula like I did until your hormones are under control and you’ve come to terms with it make sure you buy the formula with someone in your support system or when going to get the formula off the shelf get on your cell phone to talk to someone in your support system it makes it harder for someone to be rude when there are people around or your on the phone so you can come to terms with it on your own time without people making it worse – Whitney

 

Enjoy the quiet moments. It’s the time when the house is quiet, everyone is asleep and it is just you and your little one. Listen to their breathing, savor their smell, and think of how much you love that little bundle in your arms. – Jessica

 

Formula feeding doesn’t make you a bad Mom. You’re feeding your child, and making sure he/she gets the nutrition they need. Don’t ever, ever let anyone make you feel “less than” because you couldn’t/chose not to breastfeed. – Brandi

 

Be proud knowing you are a great mom doing a great job! – Michele

 

You don’t owe anyone an explanation. How you feed your baby is between you, your partner, your pediatrician, and your child. Oh, and if your baby is on any of the hypoallergenic formulas like Neocate, check with your insurance to see if you can get reimbursed! – Ilissa

 

Do what you feel is best for you and YOUR baby regardless of the critics – Sheena

 

Read the instructions carefully and make sure anyone who will be feeding baby does as well. – Jennifer

 

Don’t listen to criticism. You’re doing the best you can do – Crystal

 

Just feed that baby. You’re doing a great job! – Jessica

 

Enjoy the fact that your spouse and family members will get to help feed baby and bond too – Amanda

 

Be gentle on yourself  when your child starts school you won’t be able to tell who was breastfed and who was formula fed. – Olivia

Trust your gut. If you think this formula isn’t working for your baby, switch. Not all formulas are created equal and different kids need different kinds. It can be trial and error but you will find the perfect fit for him/her. – Katie

 

Own it. There are tons of up-sides to FF. Don’t be scared to enjoy them! – Annie

 

Find a support system! A group of other new moms, family/friends who’ve been there, and a doctor who supports your decisions (no new mom needs to be stressing and fighting with her kid’s doctor instead of healing and bonding with her baby). – Amanda

 

Emotional advice: Once you make the decision to FF you have to let BF go otherwise you will continue to feel down on yourself. (If you originally tried to BF and it didn’t work out like me) Practical application advice: Keep a soapy bowl of water in the sink and just throw dirty bottle pieces in when they are dirty. Then only wash bottles once a day instead of washing each piece everytime you use it. Total time saver! – Brittany

 

Everything they say about Breastfeeding- the special bonding, the love, how it’s good for baby…that is all just as true with formula feeding. Enjoy and live that baby. Nothing has changed but the delivery system of milk. : ) -Alyson

 

When you look back don’t wish you’d held your baby more!!! – Barbara

 

Don’t get hung up on HOW your baby is being fed, focus on the fact they ARE being fed with love! – Emily

 

Connect with other formula feeding moms. – Amy

 

Bonding happens with a breast or a bottle if you make it that way. I always try to talk to the baby and make eye contact even with a bottle. – Charis

 

Be confident and happy in your decision. You will still bond with your child JUST as much, Your child will be JUST as healthy. Bo confident in your insticts as a mom. You, and only you (and your SO) know what is best for you and your family. Do not let anyone guilt trip you. You are a super mommy, don’t forget it! – Jenny

 

I know you were taught to always listen to the doctor, but you are mommy now and what you say goes! That includes feeding your child however you need to OR want to. – Alisa

 

Spoiler Alert: By the time you are at the bus stop, no one can tell which kids were EBF and which were FF. – Alexis

 

Treat the bottle like the breast. (Also, make sure you mix it correctly. Too many odd-numbered ounce bottles going around! ) – Lisa

 

When it all said and done FF vs BF issue is only discussed for the first year. Then they move on to some other judgement. – Angela

 

What works best for you is what works best for YOU. You are who you are, your circumstance is yours- that’s what you work with, not some image of how you are supposedly “supposed” to be. An act of strength + love for you + baby!!! Also: wash/sterilize + fill all next days bottles with water and formula dividers with servings; then you’re set for tomorrow!-Claire

 

If you can afford it, do the pre-made formula, especially for travel! Unbelievably simpler. – Perpetua

 

People probably aren’t judging you nearly as much as you think they are. Ok, except the mean trolls that live on the internet – Sarah

 

Never forget that you are in the best position to determine what is right for you, your child, and your family… – Janice

 

Stay off the Internet. People online will just make you feel bad. – Rebekah

 

What are your tips for new formula feeding parents? Leave them in the comments section and join the virtual hug-fest.

FFF Friday: “Changing my conversation”

This week, I’m featuring a post that doesn’t fit the usual profile of the FFF Friday stories. It’s not about someone’s feeding journey, per say, but rather a journey of acceptance and understanding about feeding issues. 

I have such respect for the author, Nicole, as both a blogger and a person. Her humor, intellect and honesty are a potent combination – just the beautifully random, yet exquisitely specific name of her blog (“Evidence-Based Tits and Teeth“) is enough to make me like her. And when she sent me this post, my admiration for her grew. 

I love how Nicole’s story shows how people can change their opinions so profoundly; I bet all of us have some ugly judgmental thoughts about various parenting decisions, and most of us don’t make a conscious decision to expose them, examine them, and destroy them. As Nicole changes her conversation, it’s inspiring me to change mine as well – to look at what I silently judge and figure out why I judge it, and to accept that people don’t need to agree with me 100% to be on my side, in the most nitty-gritty sense of the term.

How do you think you can change your conversation?

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

Nicole’s Story: Changing My Conversation
Something that the FFF said to me on a comment to one of my blogs stuck uncomfortably in my stomach. “I can see how someone who doesn’t respect that it should be a woman’s right to choose how to feed her infant wouldn’t feel welcome.”  She was referring to me.  I hadn’t felt welcome because a comment I had made to a blog post never appeared.  It turned out to be none other than the SPAM filter on her website to which she rectified and apologised.  So why didn’t I feel welcome?  Was she right?  Did I not truly respect a mother’s right to choose?

I kept revisiting, reading, studying every word on every page.  Then I’d study the comments.  I still didn’t feel comfortable.  I felt like an outsider peering into a world I didn’t belong.  It bothered me. A lot.

When I first started blogging, I believed I knew the answers and if I didn’t know them all, it wouldn’t take me long to figure them out.  I would single-handedly change the world of breastfeeding for the better.  I had an inkling that many mothers that had ‘failed’ at breastfeeding hadn’t really tried hard enough.  Some said they just couldn’t but that was nonsense.  I also thought that those that hadn’t tried hard enough probably didn’t have all the facts and that if they really knew what a difference it would make to their baby’s health, then they would go through hell and high water to succeed.

I read feeding stories as research but found after a while, I wouldn’t really look at the content, I would scan straight to the comments.  Women from different sides of the globe would be battling with each other and sometimes saying the most hurtful things.  Words were full of pain, regret, guilt, anguish and desperation to prove that they were still worthy of calling themselves mothers because they didn’t ‘succeed’ at breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding woman would be smug, self-righteous and belittling. I felt uncomfortable again.

It all smacked of a school playground. Why was it so important for me to bring more women to the cause?  Was it about me or them?  It was like I was trying to convert non-believers to a cult, until I read one woman’s reply to a feeding story.  It simply read, “STOP TELLING ME THAT BREASTFEEDING IS HEALTHIER FOR MY BABY.  I FUCKING KNOW.  DON’T YOU THINK I ALREADY FEEL BAD ENOUGH? I TRIED REALLY FUCKING HARD. DON’T YOU THINK I DID?”

I felt horrendous.  I was just a.n.other do-gooder making another mother feel bad.  I hadn’t directly to her, but probably to many others with my ‘good intentions’.  That was the complete opposite of what I had set out to do.  But I couldn’t shake off the ‘health’ benefits.  It was a sticking point for me. Babies aren’t meant to be fed artificial milk.  “Children are getting sicker”. “Children are getting fatter”. Fair enough if you wanted to breastfeed but for whatever reason didn’t, that’s ok. Or you’re a adoptive mother and bottle fed. That’s ok too. Or you’ve had both your breasts removed from cancer. That’s ok as well. Sexual abuse survivor? A definite ok. But to not choose at all?

The more feeding stories I read, the more photos I saw of babies all looking the same.  Happy and loved.  Line them all up and I would never be able to tell which ones were breastfed and which ones weren’t.  Then came the I Support You campaign; the real turning point for me. Photos, memes and messages of love and support for every type of feeding mum. I felt warm and fuzzy. I felt invigorated and inspired. I felt proud. Nothing about it felt uncomfortable.

So here I am.  I want to start changing my conversation, and firstly I want to say a few things I have been too scared to say and perhaps why it was so important for me to get woman on my side.  I feel that bottle feeders are superior.  They have an easier life because their partners can help.  They have an easier life because their babies sleep through.  They can return to normality far quicker including having a social life.  They are not trapped by the overwhelming and sometimes suffocating sense of responsibility at having to keep a baby alive.  They can wear sexy underwear.  They aren’t limited by clothes that have to have easy access to the main feeding receptacle.  Babies still grow up to be perfectly well-rounded, healthy, clever human beings.  Why would anyone really want to breastfeed?  This is why ‘we’ push the (ambiguous) health benefits. Why ‘we’ bang on about bonding. Because it’s all ‘we’ve’ got.  And ‘we’ haven’t really got the latter either.

So, ladies and…well ladies, this is my new agenda.  I want to support ALL mums to feed with love – a feeding peer supporter.  To set up a local support group to welcome bottle-feeding mums that may have wanted to breastfeed or chose not to. To discuss how to biologically nurture without using a breast. To talk about bottle-led feeding. To discuss how to make up feeds correctly and safely (as a region, we have the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the UK). To support them through their grief at things not turning out how they’d hoped. To talk to them, should they wish, about how to improve their chances next time.

I used to worry that this would further divide the breast vs bottle – having separate support groups.  But actually, by hopefully NOT feeling like they’ve been cast aside by humanity – to not receive support and help, to be persecuted for their choices and to feel like they’ve failed – it might make a few less mums disappear into the black hole of PND and to unite us mothers far more than the ‘reward those that tried hard enough’ policies that are rife in society.

I hope my words don’t appear contrite or patronising.  I now feel I totally respect a woman’s right to choose.  And… I want to dedicate this to to my heavily pregnant best friend who I have no doubt ‘pressured’ with my conversations about health and breastfeeding. I feel so sorry if I have and would hate it if she didn’t feel comfortable talking to me because of how she ultimately feeds her baby. I change my conversation for her.  I change my conversation full stop.

***

Have a story you’d like to share for FFF Friday? Email it to me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

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