I Am Not a Formula Feeding Mom

Writing helps me process my emotions. A few weeks ago, I wrote this, and have debated whether or not to share it, because sharing the things I write makes me feel really vulnerable. But, today I needed to reread it to remind myself that I am not a “formula-feeding mom”, I’m just a loving mother. I decided to go ahead and share it with you guys. I’m hoping that this can maybe help someone else who may need a reminder that motherhood is not defined by how we feed our babies!

Somedays I have to remind myself that I am not a failure.

I didn’t fail at breastfeeding. I did not fail at being a mother.

Society and my inner voice may sometimes convince me that I came up short in the infant-feeding part of motherhood, but in the rare moments of clarity, I know that this is not true. I am confident in my decision to exclusively formula-feed my son.

You see, I didn’t start out motherhood with the goal of breastfeeding my son. It wasn’t my plan to exclusively pump. Nor was it my plan to formula-feed my baby. My only plan was to feed him.

I took a breastfeeding class. I bought a nursing cover and nursing pads. I bought a breast pump and breastmilk storage bags. I signed up for formula samples, and sanitized baby bottles.

Before my son’s birth, I prepared to provide nourishment to a healthy thriving baby boy by whatever means necessary, with whatever method worked best for us.

After his birth, there was an overwhelming pressure to breastfeed no matter what. Women from all directions told me that breast milk was the best gift I could give my child, that it would give him the healthiest start to life. They said to me that breastfeeding was how we would bond as mother and son. They chided I needed to stop pumping and try harder to get baby on the breast or my supply would suffer. They warned that I needed to stop supplementing with formula.

They said that they wanted to “support” me on my breastfeeding journey, because “more mothers would succeed at breastfeeding if they just had enough support.”

This pressure continues to weigh on me. This pressure has created a guilt unimaginable to anyone who has never experienced it, who have never cried as they fed their baby a bottle simply because it wasn’t breast milk, who have never sat up at night with knots in their stomach while questioning their worth as a mother, simply because they didn’t breastfeed.

But that pressure and guilt hasn’t changed the fact that formula was and is best for our situation.

FormulaStudy

I made the decision to exclusively feed my son formula in a moment of clarity, where I KNEW that it was absolutely what was best for us, where I was a confident mother and woman making a decision that she felt completely sure was good.

Unfortunately, pressure from society and other mothers can make those moments of clarity less clear and more rare, even nonexistent.

So, in this current moment of clarity, I want to write the following statements that I can look back on when unnecessary guilt becomes too much and so that other mothers may reflect on them and be confident in their decision to feed formula:

  • Not breastfeeding doesn’t make me any less of a mother than those who breastfeed their babies. Not feeding breast milk to my son doesn’t mean I don’t love him as much as other mothers love their babies. Feeding my son formula doesn’t mean that I didn’t try hard enough. It simply means that I am a mother who knows and does what’s best for HER family.
  • Our breastfeeding relationship did not fail. Our bond has not suffered. My baby is healthy, thriving and loved. It is NOT how we FEED our children that defines us as mothers. It is how we LOVE our children that defines us as mothers.
  • And how we support other mothers on their journey, on their MOTHERHOOD journey, on their LIFE journey, rather than just how we support them on their breastfeeding journey that defines us as human beings.
  • Our babies thrive on love, not on breast milk. Just the same, us mothers thrive on love and support, not on breastfeeding.                                                                                                                                       #FEDisbest #LOVEisthebestgift #OurBondIsNOTLost #TheyNeedUsMOREThanOurBreastmilk #BreastfeedingROCKS #ExclusivelyPumpingRULES #FormulaIsAWESOME #AllMothersAreAMAZING #FeedWithoutGuilt #EFFwithoutSHAME #SupportALLTheMamas #NeverthelessFeedYourBabyWithLove”

     

    Thank you guys for reading 💙❤️ 

     


    WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST

    There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:

    1. Join the Fed is Best Volunteer group to help us reach Obstetric Health Providers to advocate for counseling of new mothers on the importance of safe infant feeding.
    2. Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
    3. 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 resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
    4. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
    5. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
    6. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for 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.
    7. Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and every thing 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.
    8. Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child.  Your messages of support keep us all going.
    9. Shop and Fed is Best Foundation will earn cash back! We hope to develop our online safe infant feeding classes with these funds.
    10. If you need support, we have a private support group– Join                                 Donate to Fed is Best 

      Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!

      CoFoundersPic

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I Had All of The Support In The World And Breastfeeding Still Didn’t Work.

They tell you that if you prepare enough, it will work. They tell you that all you need is support, belief that you will be successful, and commitment. If only it were that simple.

I knew I might have issues. I had breast reduction surgery back in 2001, but had been told that using the right technique would preserve my ability to breastfeed. Nonetheless, I set out preparing to ensure I would be successful. Besides doing yoga, pilates, weight training, and exercise, I got into the midwife program and prepped diligently. I did prenatal workshops and tracked down a book on how to successfully be a breast feeding after reduction mom. I hired a private lactation consultant for a session ahead of time. We talked about teas and tinctures, techniques and diet to help my supply be optimal. We talked about how I could use a supplemental nursing system if necessary. I read extensively and was convinced breastfeeding was the only way to feed my son to ensure his well being and I would have no problem breastfeeding because I had SUPPORT.  

After lengthy pre-labour, labour finally started but my son was posterior and we stalled at 5cm dilated for over 10 hours. Finally, 33 hours after labour started, I delivered our son vaginally. I was exhausted after being awake for 3 days straight but determined to breastfeed. We seemed to struggle with latching and when he finally did, the pain took my breath away. I had already gone through 25 hours of labour before finally getting an epidural, but the pain during each feed was excruciating and only ended when he stopped feeding. Within a few hours I was concerned by the pain, and by my misshapen nipples that were already severely cracked and bleeding. I asked each nurse that I saw. All told me the latch was good and waved off my concerns about pain. My reading had told me to keep going but also mentioned it shouldn’t hurt this way. Worse yet, I often worried about how rarely he seemed satisfied with eating or would suckle to sleep. Yet we were released from hospital with instructions to be patient and told that breastfeeding would work out.

When I pressed about the bleeding, one nurse snapped at me: “What did you expect?”

My son barely urinated in the first few days, and by day 4 seemed more and more unsettled, finally crying 5 hours straight in the middle of the night. I was trying to let him feed as much as possible, but the pain persisted. The nipple shields a nurse gave me in the hospital helped my son to latch but the pain persisted with every feed, during the whole feed. My son still seemed always hungry and would stay latched on for over an hour if I left him. I’d try to persist feeding him, exhausted in bed, weeping at the pain and frustration.

CarlyCrying

After crying for 5 hours straight he fell asleep from exhaustion.

Our midwife team came for home visits every day. I dutifully showed our tracking charts of how long/often at each breast, his output and they would weigh him.He was quickly dropping weight so we tried to come up with a strategy. I kept up eating my oatmeal and good food like quinoa, as well as drinking lots of water. We bought a lactating tincture which I took religiously and by day 4 we both went for chiropractic and osteopathic care in case that would help. I got acupuncture. During this time, my wife contacted public health to have another lactation consultant come. I was doing all the right things, but my son was barely urinating and kept dropping weight. The lactation consultant ‘diagnosed’ a posterior tongue tie and lip tie which she believed was the cause of my pain and the state of my still bleeding nipples that would often be blanched white and misshapen after a feed. She thought temporary supplementation would be needed but was insistent no artificial nipples, so we had to tube feed him with SNS or by finger. I was told not to use a soother so he often fussed unless I let him latch onto the shield on my breast. I pleaded to get my son into specialist quickly and the frenectomy was performed at 7 days. Sadly, it did not help my pain. The Dr. who did procedure would tell me after procedure that she didn’t think tie was serious enough to warrant the frenectomy and that the real issue was an anatomically small jaw that would simply have to grow. 

By this point, my midwives were seriously concerned. My son had dropped over 11% of his body weight and still struggled to urinate. The minimal supplementation at breast was not adequate. Based on the recommendation of the LC, I pleaded for domperidone. Surely I had to get to exclusive breastfeeding. Formula was not the answer. My midwife explained I would need an EKG since it puts you at risk for heart arrhythmia. I have a family history of heart disease but I was still interested. (*Please note domperidone is banned in the US.)

At that point, my wife put her foot down. “We both need you alive. He needs you more than your breast milk.”

CarlyBSTS

Enjoying skin-to-skin time desperate to increase my milk supply.

From that point on, we stopped feeding with a tube and went to supplementation with a bottle. Our lactation consultant had cut off contact from me right after the frenectomy. Based on her comments, I was devastated to realize that she didn’t want to work with someone who used a bottle or a soother (something else the midwives insisted upon to give my poor nipples a chance to heal – my son wanted to be latched 24/7). 

All of this took place in the first 10 days of my son’s life. I persisted in trying to combo feed for 19 weeks. Any breastfeeding session still resulted in horrible pain with my nipples blanched white and misshapen. Worse was he hated latching without a shield and as he grew my supply never increased even with continued oatmeal, tincture, water, etc. I was really struggling to bond with him all those weeks later.

Even if I was the proverbial Queen of Sheba with an army of attendants and best medical care we would have still had all the problems. I still had low supply that was compounded by the chronic pain.  I look back and realize that I put us through a lot of heartache for no real benefit.

I finally weaned. My depression and anxiety lifted almost immediately and I bonded with the baby I had worked so hard to give the best start of life. I only wished I had listened to my midwife and not my lactation consultant, when she pleaded with me to understand that my son would thrive on formula. That I had done so much to make it work and it was ok. Sadly, I will never get back the time lost doing all of the unproven suggestions from my lactation consultant. Today, he thrives in daycare and I truly can’t tell which of his friends were breastfed, combo fed or formula fed. He is well adjusted, thriving and bonded to both of us. That is what really matters.

CarlyThriving

My precious son thriving on formula and love. 

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST ? JOIN US!

FIBparentingSupportGroup2

There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:

  1. Join the Fed is Best Volunteer group to help us reach Obstetric Health Providers to advocate for counseling of new mothers on the importance of safe infant feeding.
  2. Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
  3. 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 resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
  4. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
  5. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
  6. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for 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.
  7. Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and every thing 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.
  8. Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child.  Your messages of support keep us all going.
  9. Shop and Fed is Best Foundation will earn cash back! We hope to develop our online safe infant feeding classes with these funds.
  10. If you need support, we have a private support group – Join

We believe all babies deserve to be protected from hunger and thirst every single day of their life and we believe that education on Safe Infant Feeding should be free. If you would like to make a donation to support the Fed is Best Foundation’s mission to teach every parent Safe Infant Feeding, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to our organization.

Donate to Fed is Best

Thank you so much from the Founders of the Fed is Best Foundation!

CoFoundersPic

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The ‘Second Night Syndrome’ is Abnormal and This is Why

Written by Jody Segrave-Daly, RN, MS, IBCLC

As a NICU/nursery nurse and IBCLC who has worked with newborn babies her entire nursing career, I was mystified when I first heard the phrase “second night syndrome.” When I began to research where the phrase came from, it became clear that this phrase is not based on any scientific research, but rather based on a theory that describes behavior of exclusively breastfed newborns on their second day of life. I think it is a frightening phrase for new parents to hear, as the word “syndrome” is defined as a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition. 

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The truth is, the “second night syndrome” is a theory that describes abnormal newborn behavior.

Babies can go into a very deep, recovery sleep period after the first 2 hours from birth. This period can range from 8-12 hours after birth and is often a time that babies may not wake up on their own to feed every 2-3 hours. Babies often need gentle encouragement from their parents to wake them up for feeding sessions. Some babies will nurse for 5 minutes or suckle on a bottle for 5 minutes or less and fall back asleep. It’s well known that babies are fasting during this time and if they have enough caloric reserves, they may tolerate this fasting period without complications. Nursery nurses are quite skilled with performing clinical assessments of babies to ensure they are stable. They are looking for signs of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels, jaundice and other abnormal clinical markers.  Ten percent of healthy, full-term exclusively breastfed newborns develop hypoglycemia in the first days of life and may require specialized care until they are stable.  All babies are transitioning from intrauterine to extra-uterine life and need skilled observation from the nurse while they are bonding with their parents in their room.

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Risk factors for delayed onset of full breast milk production

After babies begin to ‘wake-up’ from their deep recovery sleep period on their second day of life, they will begin to exhibit stronger hunger cues to nurse or bottle feed, every 2-3 hours and they become much more alert. This is a new opportunity for parents to bond because their babies become alert again, opening their eyes while gazing at their parent’s adoring faces. Some babies are a bit demanding during this time because they are very hungry. Newborn babies are very easy to console after their feeding by being held and snuggled. Every nursery nurse will tell you if a baby is not content after feeding, something is wrong. I suspect this is where the word “syndrome” came from, which describes abnormal infant behavior. Continue reading

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I Learned I Was Capable Of Breastfeeding My Baby Thanks To The Fed Is Best Support Group

Asher was born after 46 hours of induced labor at 39 weeks, 4 days. I had sudden onset severe pre-eclampsia. In the “golden hour,” he didn’t latch. He was exhausted and a bit lethargic. After the staff took Asher for his bath, I worked with the RN and he latched really well and nursed on both sides. Towards the end he fell asleep and they had me hand express colostrum and finger feed him. His first two days at the hospital he only lost 3 ounces. I thought he was latching well but the lactation consultant who saw us before discharge said his latch was shallow. She sent us home with a shield, “just in case.” At his first pediatrician appointment at four days old he was down 10 ounces. The doctor gave us ready to feed bottles, encouraged supplementation and sent Asher for lab work because he was slightly jaundiced and lost too much weight. While we were at the hospital, I ended up getting readmitted because my preeclampsia never went away and had gotten much worse. I was put on a magnesium drip for 24 hours which made breastfeeding really challenging. My husband was so supportive and somehow we made it through a three day hospital stay. During that time they checked Asher’s bilirubin levels regularly. His jaundice improved and he had gained four ounces! By then my nipples were raw from his very bad latch. I started using the shield and it was a lifesaver. Asher was back up to birth weight by his two week check up. I was encouraged to wean him from the shield. That ended with many deep cracks and damage to my nipples that led to a six week bout of thrush, a bad clog, and mastitis.

When I had mastitis, we used the ready to feed bottles because my supply decreased. Asher’s weight gain remained steady and after pumping and supplementing for a few weeks we went back to exclusively nursing. In that time, Asher had spinal surgery. He nursed 24/7 after his surgery, which did wonders for my supply. After his first post-op check up he had gained a pound! We weaned from the shield in between his post-op appointments, his weight gain slowed down a lot and I got worried. I saw a new LC, who I loved, and she checked our new and improved latch. She said he was transferring milk well without the shield. I still didn’t feel comfortable with how his weight gain had slowed.

I found the Fed is Best support group through a fellow mom in a birth month group I was in. It was there that I learned about weighted feeds and bought a scale for use at home. I was shocked after the first 24 hour weights because Asher wasn’t transferring that much milk from me. So, we supplemented a lot and I pumped a lot. My husband did random weighted feeds without me knowing and they showed that Asher was transferring milk but I had some major scale anxiety that was affecting my ability to let down and feed Asher. But, the experience helped reinforce in me that I knew my son’s hunger cues and I usually had enough milk to satisfy him.

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We got into a really good swing of things, I nursed, if he seemed hungry I would supplement and pump. I quickly built a freezer stash and we got back to exclusively nursing and solids. His weight has been in the 5-6% pretty much his whole life and then last month he went up to 8%.  With the knowledge I gained from the Fed Is Best Support Group, I am now certain that he wasn’t going hungry, he is just a little guy! Since July, about a month after I learn about Fed is Best, things have been easy and uneventful. Asher nurses whenever he wants; if I am at work he gets breast milk sippy cups and solids. Continue reading

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My Baby Suffered And Almost Died–Why Are The Risks Of Exclusive Breastfeeding Not Taught To Mothers?

As a first-time mom I braced myself for the worst but when my water broke that morning, I was super calm.  At the hospital, I had some IV pain medications, but labor went really smoothly and quick. A little after my baby was born I decided to try and feed him, not really knowing what I was doing or supposed to do. The LC came and tried to help him to latch. He didn’t really want to latch, so she had me hand express some colostrum and spoon feed it to him. She warned me not to use a pump (Why I don’t know) and that the small drops I was expressing was enough for him. So, he had drops of colostrum all day.

The second night he was crying all night longI kept telling the nurses that I didn’t think he was getting anything from me, because he wanted to nurse non-stop and would cry as soon as he was off my breast. But, I was told his crying was normal. Looking at my feeding log I got maybe 2 hours of sleep.  I was exhausted and very concerned.

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We were discharged after 48 hrs and they watched him latch and nurse before leaving.  We were told he needed to come back the next morning because he was jaundiced and needed blood work done. We went back and learned his jaundice level was high and he needed admitted for photo-therapy. His blood work also showed his blood sugar was dangerously low and his other blood work that was not normal too. He lost an entire pound because I was not making any colostrum and he was starving! They started an IV as fast as they could to stabilize him. He kept crying so a nurse helped me feed him formula using an SNS system so help soothe him.

He had to be life flighted to a bigger town, with a higher skilled NICU to take care of him because he was so sick. I was already a mess with everything going on, but having my baby fly to a better NICU was terrifying.

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Once there, he had a feeding tube placed. His jaundice went away very quickly from the IV fluids and feedings. We tried breastfeeding a few times, but it just stressed me and him out too much. I pumped, but grew increasingly frustrated and sad as each time the amount I got grew less and less. My baby stayed  in the NICU for over a week and during that time we found out his newborn screening came back positive for  MCADD (MCAD), A metabolic disorder. With MCADD, my baby cannot go too long without food because once  he runs out of glucose, he can’t break down fats for energy. This can lead to death quite quickly. I am haunted by his cries now after birth, knowing he was telling me he was so hungry and needed food, despite the nurses, lactation consultants telling me his cries were normal. If we had waited a few more hours to get back to the hospital for his blood work, he probably not be here with us today.

 

About one in every 15,000 babies in the United States is born with MCADD. MCADD happens more often in white people from Northern Europe and the United States. About 1 in every 70 Caucasians is a carrier for MCADD. One baby in every 10,000 born in England is diagnosed with MCADD by newborn screening; around 60 babies each year.

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We were discharged and he required to be on a schedule of eating every 3-4 hrs. Once he was a year old, the longest time he can fast for is 12 hours, and that will continue for his whole life. If he’s sick, throwing up or not eating, he has to go to the ER to get an IV to keep his sugar levels stable. He is now 10 months and super smart and adorable and loves eating.  I am pregnant again with his brother (who has a 25% chance of having MCADD as well). It just makes me so scared to think about other babies that could have metabolic disorders who are born in BFHI hospitals.  It puts them at much higher risk if they don’t receive enough colostrum  during the early days of life, because of their restrictive no supplementing policy. After all, my baby screamed for days and I was told making drops of colostrum was ALL he needed.   Who would’ve thought my husband and I would be carriers of this rare disorder and that our child would have it.

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#3 Making Sure Your Newborn is Fed.pptx (15)

I do want to try breastfeeding again with his brother. Of course, I will be supplementing in the beginning and as needed. But I’ll ask many questions to help my journey when the due date gets closer. I’m looking forward to all the help and good educational information I’ll have this time from The Fed Is Best Foundation. The question I will always have is why are exclusive breastfeeding risks not taught to mothers? 

 

Supplement1

 

Dear little man,

I am so sorry your first days were no fun. I wish I could think back on those days with fondness and happiness, and parts of it bring me those feelings, but I get sad and angry and feel incredibly guilty too. Now here we are on your first birthday and I know not one person could ever make me feel bad or wrong or less of a mother for giving you formula, because you have thrived and grown and it was the absolute best choice for us. Look at you now, my little man.  Love, Mommy~AnnaH55


HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST

There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:

  1. Join the Fed is Best Volunteer group to help us reach Obstetric Health Providers to advocate for counseling of new mothers on the importance of safe infant feeding.
  2. Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
  3. 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 resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
  4. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
  5. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
  6. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for 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.
  7. Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and every thing 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.
  8. Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child.  Your messages of support keep us all going.  Thank you for your advocacy!
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My Three Day Old Baby Went Limp And Turned Blue; She Was Starving And I Almost Lost Her

First of all, I had always seen your Facebook page and thought to myself “this could never happen to me” or “I wouldn’t be that naive.” But now, can I share my story?

I was induced at 39 weeks due to preeclampsia. Since my cervix was stubborn, however, I ended up with a c-section. My baby was born 7 lbs 11 oz on January 10, 2018.

 I was hooked up to magnesium to help with my blood pressure and was bedridden for 24 hours after the c-section. My hospital was a BFHI-certified hospital, and they bragged about their excellent lactation consultants (IBCLCs). That made me happy because I had always dreamed of breastfeeding. I never imagined how hard it would be.

I was recovering from major surgery and felt weak, overwhelmed and quickly became frustrated trying to take care of my baby and breastfeed her. I cried multiple times during my short stay. Why was this so hard? I constantly had to ask for breastfeeding help from the nurses and lactation consultants. By the end of the second day, though, I was proud I got my baby to breastfeed without help. She was constantly feeding, every hour on the dot. No one was concerned about her excessive breastfeeding at all. The nurses seemed pleased with her diapers counts.

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We were discharged from the hospital not even 48 hours after my c-section. The first night with my baby was unbearably tough. If she wasn’t breastfeeding, she was crying. This was not fussing. She cried and screamed and the only way she stopped crying was if she was on my breast.  My mom stayed by my side most of the night trying to help soothe her, but my baby only wanted to be on my breast. Continue reading

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My Daughter’s Life Lay At Stake And I Took Every Formula Sample Offered

I’m the oldest of five kids. My husband has only one sister. Together, we knew that we wanted a large family. Yet, somehow, motherhood still came as a complete shock to me. I stumbled to breastfeed my first child and fed her some formula “on the sly” while I still figured out the damn process. I struggled to breastfeed my second exclusively. Somehow, I did, but I was diagnosed with post-partum depression when she was two months old. We had a space of time after she was born, and I learned whatever I could to breastfeed. I was determined to breastfeed any future children because what good mom would not want to give her the benefits of never getting sick, Einsteinian IQ, smoking hot body, and perfect social standing?

My third was born, and I tried to breastfeed her too. And at her four-month check, her ribs were showing, and our family doctor was worried. Tests that he ordered were not alarming, but did indicate developing problems. He referred me to a pediatric specialist. Dr. K was a godsend. He quickly went through a check, then just said, “ She’s just hungry, Paula.”

He took a little preparatory breath. “I hesitate to say this directly, but can you give her formula?” Honestly, I did feel a small punch to the gut—my mother had breastfed all of us, why couldn’t I?—and the thought of denying my child the supposed benefits seemed so…selfish.

But my daughter’s life lay at stake, and I took every formula sample he offered. She greedily sucked down every bit of that first two ounces I gave her. I prepared another ounce and she ate that too, then finally slept deeply and peacefully. My mother took my older girls so that I could just focus on giving my baby formula between breast-feedings that weekend. My daughter became calmer and her tummy became rounder. Rather quickly, I found that I did not have the sentiment for breast-feeding that I thought I ought to have. The milk I did pump looked thin and watery, and there certainly was not nearly enough to feed a growing infant. I quickly stopped the pumping and feeding and supplementing cycle, and I switched totally over to formula.

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Her round little belly after gaining weight with formula.

At my baby’s follow-up the next week, all warning signs of her health were gone and the doctor beamed at a child easily treated, unlike some of his cases. “Some moms can’t produce enough breast milk for a baby,”  he explained. “Nothing to be ashamed of, but it just happens. Some moms can’t produce enough for one baby though they can for another. Research on it just isn’t very strong either.” He gave my little girl back to me,  tickled her foot, and then surprised me with the words, “I’m just glad that you were not too upset at the suggestion of formula.”

Maybe some would consider it “too late” when I discovered the Fed Is Best Foundation at this time. I had already gone through the trials of breastfeeding and had figured out how to feed my baby without their help, after all. But I don’t consider it a waste. I still had to field the inevitable “What if” questions from others—“What if you had used fenugreek?”, “What if you had pumped between feedings?”, “What if your child had gotten sick without the antibodies?”, “What if you had just tried harder?’—and it was a relief to know that I had a place where I would be safe from such fruitless (and eye-rolling) questioning. I devoured all of the information the Foundation had on hand and resolved to support their work in any way I could.

No mother or child should have to suffer because information on infant feeding is sparse and an agenda focused on a means rather than the end fills the void.

When we were unexpectedly pregnant with twins, I considered maybe pumping some of my watery milk to give them, but by the time I was in hospital, I firmly resolved to give them formula exclusively. I would not start with a crazy cycle again. My boys have never known a day of hunger. I was a more relaxed mother even with five now in my care.

FormulaStudy

Formula served not only as a life-saver for my babies, but also as a key form of self-care for me. My husband split feedings with me, which allowed me to get some alone time at crucial moments. It fit my personality more readily than the boob. Not being as tired as with breast-feeding babies meant that my emotional health stabilized fairly quickly and my SSRI dosage decreased. Why I could technically breastfeed a child or two but not all of them might be an interesting question for some, but I don’t care to ponder it. Today, they all eat Chick-fil-a fries with equal gusto and turn their noses up each at their veggie of choice. The pumps, powder, bottles, cans, books, stress, and tears are a memory.

Lactivism has certainly established its narrative, but I’m grateful for the Foundation to provide legitimate information without moral judgment for those of us in the trenches.

I still wonder to this day, though, what kind of resistance Dr. K has encountered when he suggests formula to warrant the kind of gratitude he expressed to me. We still have a lot of work to do, and #FedIsBest leads that change.

Thank God for that.

“Paula is a no-nonsense mom of five who blogs about motherhood and keeping calm among chaos at www.bordrum.com/blog

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT FED IS BEST

There are many ways you can support the mission of the Fed is Best Foundation. Please consider contributing in the following ways:

  1. Join the Fed is Best Volunteer group to help us reach Obstetric Health Providers to advocate for counseling of new mothers on the importance of safe infant feeding.
  2. Make a donation to the Fed is Best Foundation. We are using funds from donations to cover the cost of our website, our social media ads, our printing and mailing costs to reach health providers and hospitals. We do not accept donations from breast- or formula-feeding companies and 100% of your donations go toward these operational costs. All the work of the Foundation is achieved via the pro bono and volunteer work of its supporters.
  3. 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 resources to expectant moms that you know. Share the Fed is Best campaign letter with everyone you know.
  4. Write a letter to your health providers and hospitals about the Fed is Best Foundation. Write them about feeding complications your child may have experienced.
  5. Print out our letter to obstetric providers and mail them to your local obstetricians, midwives, family practitioners who provide obstetric care and hospitals.
  6. Write your local elected officials about what is happening to newborn babies in hospitals and ask for 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.
  7. Send us your stories. Share with us your successes, your struggles and every thing 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.
  8. Send us messages of support. We work every single day to make infant feeding safe and supportive of every mother and child.  Your messages of support keep us all going.  Thank you for your advocacy!

Donate to Fed is Best

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I Shared My Story a Year Ago And I Was Told To Go Kill Myself – How I Am Healing

By Mandy Dukovan, MS, MFT, Marriage and Family Therapist, Fed is Best Foundation Senior Advisor

It’s incredibly hard to put into words all the things that The Fed Is Best Foundation has done for me the past year.  I happened to stumble upon the Foundation when I noticed a friend of mine “liked” one of their blog posts. I was a first-time mom who was struggling with many different feelings, and wasn’t sure who or where to turn to. My son was 2 months at the time, and was just beginning to thrive after I had begun to supplement him with formula. While I was so happy to see my baby finally gaining weight and thriving, I had haunting memories and raw emotions that I was struggling to sort out. I had immense guilt that I didn’t see the signs that my baby was hungry, which tortured me non-stop. I was embarrassed that I could look at his 1-month picture and now see that he was obviously malnourished, but how on earth did I miss this at the time?

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1 Month Old

I was angry that I didn’t follow my own instincts that something was wrong with him and was angry that I believed all the terrible things I was told from lactivists that would happen to him,  if I gave him a drop of formula. I worried that we would not have the kind of bond that babies who were exclusively breastfed (EBF) experienced with their mothers. I now know that our bond is so much stronger because we bottle-fed him and no longer experienced the immense stress that came each time I tried to breastfeed my baby. I got to a point where I dreaded even trying to breastfeed him, but I was told that was the best thing I could do for my baby, so I kept going, at the expense of my baby’s health and my well-being. I honestly believed I was the only mother who had experienced what we went through because I only heard the stories about how amazing and natural breastfeeding was and every mother could breastfeed if only she tried hard enough.

Since I am a therapist, I knew I needed to share my story. I found courage in my strong desire for other babies and mothers not to struggle. I also found courage in the fact that I needed a reason for all of the suffering—I needed to know that Brock’s struggle was not in vain. I kept telling myself, “If I reach even one mother and prevent even one baby from suffering like Brock, then I have to do this.”  

Then I shared my story… Continue reading

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I Burned the SNS Supplemental Feeder In Our Backyard-My Story As A Supportive Breastfeeding Partner

The first weeks of our baby’s life are hazy, but I remember Meredith’s gasps of pain when she tried to nurse.  I remember that the baby kept coming off the breast and crying and we had to get her back on.  It was a constant struggle of trying to get the baby latched, having to break her latch because of the pain, then her falling asleep, unlatching, then waking up and crying.  It was a seemingly endless cycle.  

When we brought the baby home from the hospital, she was crying and we couldn’t get her to stop.  I realized she was hungry and I gave her a bottle of formula.  She drank down four ounces, stopped crying, and went to sleep.  I felt relieved because I was able to make my baby happy and comfortable.   I told Meredith that the baby drank 4 ounces of formula and she said that was impossible, because an infant’s stomach  can only hold 5 ml, according to the nurse who taught our breastfeeding class.  We both now know that is untrue.   

The next day, we went to the lactation consultant at the hospital.  She told us to supplement with formula, but to give no more than 5 ml at once with a syringe—no bottles.  She said the baby’s stomach could only hold 5 ml (our baby was 4 days old) and we should feed her with a syringe to avoid nipple confusion.  The baby sucked those 5 ml down so quickly, it was ridiculous. I knew that she needed more than 5 ml, but I didn’t feel qualified to disagree with the lactation consultant.  Because she worked at the hospital, I assumed she was giving evidence-based advice.  So we fed the baby 5 ml at a time with a syringe.  When one syringe-full was insufficient to sate the baby, I often fed her multiple syringes at a time, even though I felt like it was wrong to do so.     Continue reading

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I Closed My Eyes As I Bit Down On My Gum And Waited For The Latch

My daughter, “little L,” was born a healthy 8.8 pounds, exactly on her due date in late September, several years ago. Like most new moms, I had spent all 9 months months studying up for my new job as a parent. And all the literature out there agreed that “Breast is Best!”.   I read and believed the unfounded claims that children who were exclusively BF had higher IQs, and were healthier than formula fed babies. I read that I should NEVER, under any circumstances, feed my child formula. I decided to leave work and stay home for a solid 6  months to exclusively breastfeed. After all, the books and doctors made it sound so magical, easy, and most of all, crucial. I had no idea what I was in for.

My problems were not related to supply. My milk came in roughly 8 hours after she was born, and by the time I left the hospital, I had enough milk to feed a village. (Her growth stayed in the 90th percentile for that entire year.) My problems were depression, loneliness, and sleepless nights,  all stemming from the unbearable pain I had with breastfeeding. 

When I left the hospital, I had several blood blisters already on both nipples, and at home, my nipples became black and  blue and cracked. They were open sores that bled constantly. I went without a shirt for a month, basically becoming a shut-in because wearing a shirt was excruciating. I couldn’t even shower because of the pain. 

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Continue reading

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