I saw on your website that you guys are encouraging parents to share their feeding journey and I thought I would share mine.
My baby was born March 6, 2021, after 48 hours of labor which resulted in a c-section, just shy of 39 weeks gestation. She was 6 pounds 3 ounces and healthy as can be. My plan was always to breastfeed, so the lactation consultants (LCs) in the hospital helped me right away with latching. We discovered a tongue tie and that was corrected when we left the hospital.
We then had our 2-day old appointment with the pediatrician, and the baby had lost more weight than they wanted to see. So we continued breastfeeding on demand and had an appointment to see a lactation consultant in 2 more days for a weight check. At that appointment, the baby had lost more weight and was now down to 5 pounds 7 ounces. So they wanted me to supplement after each feeding then pump after each feeding, including at night. They told me to do this while telling me to eat and drink more and somehow get more rest because all of that contributes to milk production. I was exhausted. The LC said I can try giving her the supplement with a tube or syringe or bottle, “whatever I wanted to try.”
I ended up using a syringe because the baby seemed to take to it okay and I was getting around 12 ounces of formula or pumped milk into her after her breastfeeding sessions. At the next LC appointment a couple of days later, the baby still wasn’t gaining as much as they wanted. And that’s when they started threatening me with hospitalization and CPS, telling me I wasn’t feeding her enough, because I had a low milk supply. At each of these appointments, I was in tears, thinking I was failing my baby and I was a bad mom. We were given one more chance to try and get more food into my baby.
At the next appointment, about 4-5 days later, I had a different LC who asked me what method I was using to feed the baby, besides the breastfeeding sessions. I said I was using the syringe and showed her what I was doing. This LC suggested I try the bottle and provided me with some ready-to-feed 2-ounce bottles. She prepared one for me and had me give that to the baby, and she sucked down almost the entire thing. I was sobbing, thinking I had been starving my baby all this time.
When I took my baby to her 2-week old appointment, she was gaining the way they wanted to see and the pediatrician, who was wonderful, told me how common it was for smaller babies to be “lazy nursers” and that combined with the long labor and surgical delivery we had, it was common to have milk production issues. She also said that if trying to breastfeed and pump was too much for me physically and mentally that it was okay to stop. Because my baby needed a healthy and present mom, more than she needed to breastfeed. I will always remember the feeling of freedom with those words.
I ended up combo feeding my baby for 9 months. At that point, she weaned herself from breastfeeding and we continued using formula and my small stash of frozen breastmilk in a bottle or sippy cup.
Even though my baby just turned a year old and is happy, healthy, and thriving. I still think back to hat first month of how had it was and feeling like I was a terrible mother. I was pressured to breastfeed by the LC I had in the first couple of appointments. None of the LCs I saw said mentioned going to just formula feeding or even combo feeding. I had to figure that out on my own, and look for resources.
I think for all parents to feel supported, LCs, doctors, nurses should ask,”What is your feeding plan?” instead of, “Are you going to breastfeed?” I think approaching it as a feeding plan, may help more moms ask questions about combo feeding or formula feeding and be better informed for ALL of their options, not just breastfeeding. I also think they need to talk about other feeding journeys in new parent/birthing classes, not just breastfeeding. I think I would have felt more supported if my healthcare workers said that it would be okay to just formula feed. If I had not been given the freedom to supplement, I may have stopped breastfeeding sooner. Only because my mental health took a severe decline trying so hard to make enough milk. Plus all the money I spent on supplements, drinks, prescription medications, etc. trying to boost my supply and all the time I spent pumping.
Click here for a free downloadable feeding plan to share with your health professionals before you deliver your baby.
Anyway, I think the point of sharing my story is, I want other moms to know it’s okay. Whatever your feeding plan is, is valid and important. But also they should know that things happen that you can’t foresee and plans have to change. Make sure if that happens, you advocate and learn all of your options. However you feed your baby is your choice and you are a good parent for making it. And don’t let ANYONE—healthcare worker, family, friend, or people on social media—make you feel shame for not choosing what ‘they’ think is best. Everyone is different.
Thank you for taking the time to read.
Samantha B., Sacramento, CA
Our guidelines for supplementing your baby until you can find help.
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There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:
- Join us in any of the Fed is Best volunteer and advocacy, groups. Click here to join our health care professionals group. We have: FIBF Advocacy Group, Research Group, Volunteer Group, Editing Group, Social Media Group, Legal Group, Marketing Group, Perinatal Mental Health Advocacy Group, Private Infant Feeding Support Group, Global Advocacy Group, and Fundraising Group. Please send an email to Jody@fedisbest.org if you are interested in joining any of our volunteer groups.
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- Sign our petition! Help us reach our policymakers, and drive change at a global level. Help us stand up for the lives of millions of infants who deserve a fighting chance. Sign the Fed is Best Petition at Change.org today, and share it with others.
- Share the stories and the message of the Fed is Best Foundation through word-of-mouth, by posting on your social media page and by sending our FREE infant feeding educational resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
- Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write to them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
- Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
- Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for the legal protection of newborn babies from underfeeding and of mother’s rights to honest informed consent on the risks of insufficient feeding of breastfed babies.
- Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and everything in between. Every story saves another child from experiencing the same and teaches another mom how to safely feed her baby. Every voice contributes to change.
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