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What to Do When Breastfeeding Isn’t An Option

What to do when breastfeeding isn't an option

When I started nursing my first child nearly nine years ago, I couldn’t turn to my my mother for advice. That’s because she, like many in her generation, had been told by her doctor that she couldn’t make enough breastmilk for her kids to thrive. So, like many of her peers, she stopped nursing and switched to commercial formula.

Instead of relying on the age old wisdom passed down from mother to daughter for generations, I had to do something scary — wade through vitriolic internet forums about breastfeeding on mothering boards. Thankfully, I’m a good researcher, so I could glean useful information even from some of the snarkiest contributors to the Mommy Wars.

The truth is simple enough. My mom’s doctor? Probably wrong. The vast majority of women can successfully breastfeed given the right circumstances.

Now, thanks to websites like Kelly Mom and the widespread work of La Leche League, mothers everywhere are encouraged to start breastfeeding.

The good news? Most do.

From my recently published book, Beautiful Babies:

Now, thanks to the research and campaigning of organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of Health, most moms acknowledge that “breast is best.”

And according to data released by the CDC in 2010, roughly 75% of all babies in the U.S. are breastfed for at least some part of their infancy. Forty-four percent of all babies are still being breastfed at six months of age, and 24% are still being breastfed by the time they reach a year old.

Yet, the number of babies being fed formula has not decreased. Rather, what the numbers indicate is that moms are attempting to breastfeed, but failing. Only 35% of all babies are exclusively breastfed at three months of age. By six months old, the numbers drop to a paltry 15%. In other words, moms begin breastfeeding with the best of intentions, but soon end up supplementing with formula.

My breastfeeding journey.

I was a statistical anomaly. None of my three kids ever had formula. None of them ever nursed out of a bottle. All three of them exclusively breastfed until they started feeding themselves solids anywhere between the ages of 8 months and about a year old. And all three nursed well past two years old, weaning themselves sometime before their third birthdays.

I owe a great deal of that success to my life circumstances.

I worked at home, so I could have a baby glued to me 24/7. I fondly remember typing away at my desktop’s keyboard while my babies fell asleep sprawled in my lap. Because I was alone in my home, I could wander around the house bra-less (and sometimes topless!) to give my baby easy access to the breast and prevent all my nice blouses and tops from being stained with breastmilk.

I didn’t have to travel — for business or personal reasons.

I never had to take strong prescription drugs or other pharmaceuticals that are contra-indicated for nursing.

I didn’t mind nursing in public, so I would just go places with my breastfeeding baby in tow and nurse on demand.

There was literally no reason for me to ever be separated from my baby for more than a couple of hours — no reason at all for our breastfeeding relationship to be strained or paused.

I loved a lot of things about breastfeeding, but one of my favorites was how easy and economical it was. I never had to buy formula or bottles. I never had to prepare or carry a bottle bag with me just to leave the house with my baby. I didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to prepare a formula feeding; instead I just rolled over and nursed my baby while half-asleep, then rolled back into a quick & easy sleep as soon as the baby was done breastfeeding.

Are you sick of me yet?

I say all this not to gloat, but to assure you that I’m speaking from a place of success.

Yes, I had some challenges — everything from over-active letdown to a couple cases of mastitis. But when each little hurdle arose, I would just go online and read all the stuff my momma could never tell me about breastfeeding because she’d never really successfully done it.

With all this success, it became easy for me to think that breastfeeding was easy. After all, it’s 100% natural. It’s what the female body is designed to do.

But what about when breastfeeding isn’t easy?

What about when breastfeeding isn’t an option?

Yes, there are cases where it’s impossible to breastfeed. Many mothers find themselves in circumstances that don’t permit breastfeeding their baby. Maybe they’re undergoing chemotherapy. Maybe they’ve had breast implants. Or, perhaps they’re like my friend Lindsey.

She’d had breast reduction surgery as a college student. At the time, she’d asked the surgeon to preserve her ability to breastfeed as much as possible.

As a strong breastfeeding advocate and a birthing doula, Lindsey thought she had prepared herself for the challenge to come. She’d read Defining your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery and armed herself with an at-breast supplementer system, a hospital grade pump, and all the right herbs to increase supply.

She writes that despite all this preparation, “the reality of my very partial supply was still a giant blow. I really had to grieve the loss of that connection with my baby and experienced some depression in the early postpartum days.”

Finding donor milk.

Before the birth, she had reached out to a number of her friends who were nursing at the time — me included. Her desire was simple. She knew she’d likely need donor milk, and she asked us if we would donate milk for her daughter.

I said yes. Lindsey brought me a pump, and I set about learning how to pump breastmilk since I’d never done it during the whole time I’d nursed three children. I pumped every night for a few months — gleaning just an extra ounce or two at first, then moving all the way up to about 4 ounces a night.

I was embarrassed and disappointed. Here my friend’s daughter needed extra breastmilk, but all I could produce in one day was LESS than the amount a typical baby guzzles down in one nursing session. (And they usually have anywhere from 8-12 such sessions a day!)

My only encouragement came from Lindsey herself, who was so incredibly grateful for the donor milk that she repeatedly thanked me even when all I was handing over was a bag or two of frozen, pumped breastmilk at a time.

She writes, “Fortunately, a lot of my friends were breastfeeding at the time, and they graciously donated their extra milk to Sophia. I don’t think they’ve ever understood fully how much that meant to me; each frozen bag of milk felt like a bar of gold in my hands.

When that supply dwindled, I found local donors on MilkShare.com — each of them a gift from God. In all, Sophia received donated breast milk from over a dozen women — her ‘milk mamas,’ as I like to think of them. I love that she benefited from so many women’s milk; I always pictured nursing circles in the old days, when women would pass around their babies to get nourishment and immunities from many of the women in their communities.

At two and a half years old, Sophia has an incredible immune system and is remarkably healthy, which I believe is connected with our donor experience.”

Eventually, though, her baby’s demands outpaced Lindsey’s supply of donor milk.

What was she supposed to do then?

Making homemade formula.

Still struggling with depression and feeling overwhelmed by all the work involved in using her at-breast supplemental nursing system with dwindling donor supplies, Lindsey had a choice.

She’d known about the homemade baby formula in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, but just didn’t think she’d be able to do it.

In her words, “It seemed like a lot of work!”

So, she looked for a brand of organic, commercial dairy formula that she could feel good about giving her daughter. She found one, but unfortunately (or fortunately in the long run!), the formula constipated her daughter terribly.

Finally, Lindsey was ready to make the homemade formula.

She reports, “Even though the homemade formula was an extra 20 minutes of work each night, it actually was much more cost effective than commercial formula, and I knew it was much more nutrient-dense. I loved knowing that each ingredient was fresh and quality. It definitely felt like the next best thing to breast milk.”

You’ll be glad to know that Sophia thrived on the homemade formula. She continued to gain weight, reach developmental milestones, and bring her parents joy.

What did Lindsey learn?

She concludes her story this way, “I worked really hard to give my daughter what I felt was best for her, and I’ll do it again for future babies.

I have a number of good friends, though, who have simply switched to any random packaged formula when breastfeeding doesn’t work, and I make it a discipline to never judge them.

If I learned anything through my feeding struggles with Sophia, it’s that you can’t have a happy baby without a happy mama. Sometimes gathering donated milk or making formula just feels like too much to stay sane.

You never know what women are dealing with behind the scenes, but we are all fighting some sort of guilt or perceived shortcoming. No need to add snotty glances to a woman bottle-feeding. It’s not always the easy way out like many assume, and if it is — there may be valid reason.”

Empower Mothers To Make Informed Decisions

Lindsey’s experience was an eye-opening one for me. As a mom for whom breastfeeding came easily, I’d always assumed that the truly determined mother could successfully breastfeed. Lindsey proved me wrong.

She was determined, hopeful, prepared, informed. And she had to grieve, to struggle, to cope, to try to stay sane while her illusions crumbled.

So what’s my message here?

Be compassionate. If you’re a successful breastfeeding mother, be careful of what you say to moms who are struggling. Their choices are not easy, and they’re doing the best they can with the circumstances they’ve got.

What I learned.

Mothers have options — many of which they don’t know about.

Before Lindsey, I didn’t really think that finding milk from donors was possible. Now I’m aware of dozens of online forums dedicated to matching mommas with willing donors. Some of the more popular ones are: Milk Share, Human Milk 4 Human Babies, and Eats on Feets.

Did you know that it’s possible to make a homemade formula free of unnatural additives, GMOs, and on which a baby can thrive?

Most people don’t. They leave the formula creating up to the scientists. And if they cringe when they read the latest story about rocket fuel or toxins in commercial baby formula, feeling outraged, they also don’t feel like they have any other options. Yet they do!

So, if you know of any mothers who are in similar shoes to Lindsey, why not let them know what options are out there?

And finally, don’t be discouraged if they don’t do what you would do. Each one of us is different. Remember, you are the only expert on your life. Only YOU have walked in your own shoes; only YOU know the daily struggles, compromises, and decisions you’ve faced. The reverse is also true. You are NOT the expert in your friends’ lives. You have NOT walked in their shoes. You do NOT know their daily struggles. You are not them. So, please, do not judge.

(photo credit: depositphotos.com/sergei novikov)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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83 Responses to What to Do When Breastfeeding Isn’t An Option
  1. Chelsea
    April 2, 2013 | 12:49 pm

    It’s nice to read about other Mom’s who nursed just like me! I know several nursing Moms but not one of them was as dedicated as I was lol.

  2. Lindsey @ Homemade Mommy
    April 2, 2013 | 1:12 pm

    Kristen,
    Thank you for this important post. While I also had relatively easy success nursing my daughter for almost 2 years, many who want to cannot breastfeed exclusively. I have a friend who was a vegan for many years and had breast augmentation surgery that faced the major supply struggles with her first child and had to supplement with commercial formula. Her child didn’t respond well to the formula and had issues with reflux but she didn’t think she had another option. With her second she was lucky enough to meet a doula who helped her to make homemade baby formula using raw milk. She was thrilled with this option and her second child not only tolerates the formula she is thriving!

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:30 am

      I wish more mothers new about the homemade formula option! It seems like many would choose to do it if they had the time.

      According to Lindsey’s account above, it’s less expensive to make the homemade formula than it is to buy commercial formula. I think many moms might opt for it not just because it’s better than commercial formula, but even for the lower cost.

  3. Shannon
    April 2, 2013 | 1:33 pm

    This is a wonderful article! Another reason a mom might not be able to breastfeed is adoption. Yeah, it can sometimes be done, but realistically good options are needed. Thanks!

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:31 am

      Yes. I know re-lactating is possible, but I also know that none of the adoptive mothers I’ve known have been able to do it.

      • Sherri
        April 3, 2013 | 11:30 am

        I’m an adoptive mother who tried to induce lactation. I thought I could get some help from LaLeche League on the subject, boy was I wrong! At my first meeting when I explained what I was doing the leader looked at me like I had two heads. Everyone in the meeting was very discouraging and expressed thinly-veiled disgust at the idea.

        Fast forward to day 3 after my daughter was born. I actually did have a good milk supply, but after 3 days of struggling by myself with trying to figure out how to get her to latch I couldn’t stand her cries of hunger anymore and sent my husband to the drugstore for formula and bottles. I did continue to pump for 6 months and bottle feed her my breastmilk.

        Lactation induction can be done, but it’s a hard and lonely road.

        • Lora
          April 3, 2013 | 11:11 pm

          Goodness, Sherri, I am so sorry that you were treated like this. I would hope if I ever adopted that I would be able to find supportive mothers to encourage breastfeeding. Especially from LLL! I nursed both my babies past 2 years,but have considered adoption and would definitely try to nurse. I hope your post is a lesson in compassion for others…

        • Anna
          April 5, 2013 | 1:07 am

          A friend of mine who adopted four children was able to induce lactation for one, but it was always so painful for her that she stopped after about six months (although she nursed her fifth child – unexpectedly conceived – without pain). I’m sorry your local LLL was so unsupportive. I think if a mom’s lucky enough to have a supportive chapter, or other support, induction doesn’t have to be a lonely road – or at least less lonely than it might be!

        • Lindsay
          April 13, 2013 | 10:52 am

          I am so sorry your experience with la leche league was so disappointing. I was so lucky that my mom decided to nurse me in the early eighties. She tells a beautiful story about an adopted mother in her la lechwe league group that induced lactation. I guess it depends on the group you get. There are some good ones out there.

          Lindsay

    • Alicia
      April 5, 2013 | 8:04 pm

      I wanted to throw in an adopted baby breastfeeding success story. My mother’s cousin gave birth to a baby as a teen and wanted nothing to do with the baby. The baby was ultimately adopted by her grandmother. My mother ended up nursing the baby (she was nursing my brother at the time and lived close by) until her aunt (the baby’s grandmother) was able to induce lactation. Grandma was able to nurse the baby successfully with no problems.

  4. Yasmine
    April 2, 2013 | 4:39 pm

    Great article! I also had breast reduction surgery when I was in my 20′s, dr said there was no reason I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. Baby #1 came and I assumed bf ing would just happen, it’s only natural! I wish I had read about it, but felt rejected by my baby instead with nowhere to turn for support. I informed myself after that experience and although baby #2 isn’t exclusively bf we are still doing the best we can at 10 months. And now I know about home made formula!

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:32 am

      Yasmine, I am encouraged by your success! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sandrine Love
    April 2, 2013 | 6:36 pm

    I told myself I would wait to read this until later because I am in the midst of tax preparations but, I found I couldn’t resist. Bravo, Kristen! Your article left me with tears in my eyes once I reached the read “What I Learned” part. I love your words, “be compassionate”. I thank you for this article, which I experience as incredibly full of heart and full of wisdom. I salute you.

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:33 am

      Aw, thanks Sandrine!

  6. Sheila
    April 2, 2013 | 6:47 pm

    I don’t have children…yet…but when I do it is good to know there is such a supportive community out here! My mother passed away when I was younger and I wondered where I can learn how to be a nurturing mother as she was. Thanks for sharing your story, Kristen. Your book has been an excellent research resource as well. :)

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:35 am

      I think that given that your mother was a model for you, nurturing will come naturally. You may not know the practical ins and outs — the “how” if you will, but you’ll certainly have the *heart* and find the answers you seek.

  7. Kathryn @ Farming My Backyard
    April 2, 2013 | 7:23 pm

    I had difficulty breastfeeding my first daughter and was told she had to have formula. She had formula for the first two weeks of her life until I was able to pump enough milk to feed her my breastmilk from a bottle and then it took 3 months to get her to nurse directly from the breast.

    Thank you so much for addressing the other options that are out there for mothers struggling with breastfeeding. I would have loved to give her donor milk for those first two weeks but I didn’t even know it was possible at the time.

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:36 am

      You’re welcome. My goal in writing this is to help mothers be informed so that they can be empowered to make the decisions that are best for their families.

    • Dr. Josh
      April 3, 2013 | 12:40 pm

      Another option that few people know about for helping with difficult cases of breast feeding is chiropractic care for the infant. Many times, a baby’s delicate neck is stretched and twisted during birth, which can leave it “kinked” even though the presiding doctor says that it is normal. Pediatric chiropractors have training in how to adjust babies gently (no twisting or “popping”), safely, and effectively, and I have heard many reports of babies latching on successfully for the first time after their first adjustment.

      • Anna
        April 5, 2013 | 1:09 am

        Cranio-sacral work (extremely gentle form of bodywork) can also help with a difficult latch. One of the two midwives at my first birth is a cranio practitioner and was able to work on my daughter as my daughter was at the breast hours after she was born, which improved her latch and lessened my pain.

  8. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen
    April 2, 2013 | 8:56 pm

    Your breastfeeding sounds just like me! Except for the bottles (I had a short stint at school), multiple kids (I only have one), and nursing past 2 yrs. (almost there!).

    Breastfeeding can be hard sometimes, just like all parenting, but it’s worth it!

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:37 am

      It is definitely worth it!

  9. Momma
    April 2, 2013 | 9:21 pm

    Yes, it’s very depressing to be told you don’t produce enough milk for your babies. And back when you and your brother were babies, there was no internet, no real support or help groups. We were just told, “I’m sorry, you’re not producing enough milk. You’ll have to go with formula. And to supplement that formula, about one to two months after birth, you can supplement with oats or bananas.” So, that’s what some of us did. It’s unfortunate and something that I’ll always regret. Especially not being able to give useable advice. It makes me proud that both you and your brother have come so far.

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:37 am

      No regrets! Shannon & I turned out just fine. :)

  10. Kelly the Kitchen Kop
    April 2, 2013 | 9:38 pm

    Kristen,

    Like you, my Mom never nursed her babies and while she wanted to help because she knew how important it was to me, she just didn’t know how to. So with our first we ended up giving him formula (I’m so sad I didn’t know any better then!), and then thankfully, with the next 3 kids, I had a good friend who could help me get over the bumps.

    I love the ‘no-judging’ rule – first of all, MOST people just don’t have a clue there are other options, just like I didn’t! And 2nd, as you said, we don’t know what people are dealing with behind closed doors.

    I’m sharing this!

    Kel

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:42 am

      Thanks, Kel. I am so tired of mothers getting all divisive over what other mothers feed their kids. Part of me wants to scream, “It’s really none of your business!” It’s one thing if a mother solicits advice or help. Then you can tell her what you know. It’s altogether different to offer “advice” while simultaneously shaming, judging, etc.

  11. Denise
    April 2, 2013 | 10:24 pm

    My mother breastfed me, but when my sister came around, she didn’t produce enough milk, my family was very poor, so my mom was probably malnourished. When my brother came along, my mother breasfed him, but he was a sick baby. I remember my mother pumping so she could take the milk to the hospital. I breastfed my baby until she weaned herself at 9 months. I was terribly skinny by then and was probably also malnourished do to lack of money and not being able to eat well. My daughter is on medication for chronic migraines, so when she got pregnant, we knew there was a good chance she would have to go back on her medication and she would not be able to breasfeed. I researched formuals and she decided to go with an organic one. I also got oats and my grandchild started getting raw goats milk starting at about 4 months. He is very healthy. Women need to do what is right for them. We do not know all the circumstances. We need to be supportive of the choices they make. Some women just aren’t comfortable breastfeeding and that needs to be ok too. I only object to the non-organic formulas. I wish I never gave my daughter any. I did. But I didn’t know about Sally Fallon or the WAP. I did the best I could at the time. And I did a lot of research. But that was before internet. Now I do push for women to breastfeed as long as possible or at least a few weeks, but if they can’t ( or are not wanting to for whatever their personal reason), I recommend they use Sally Fallon’s formula or at the very least use an organic one.
    Then I try to set them on a path of following WAP’s nutritional advice.

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:45 am

      I think you make a very good point when you say “some women just aren’t comfortable breastfeeding and that needs to be ok too.”

      There are a lot of mothers out there who fall into this category. This doesn’t mean they’re bad mothers! It just means they’re different from me.

      I think many moms in those circumstances would opt for a nourishing homemade formula, if they knew it existed.

  12. JS
    April 3, 2013 | 1:31 am

    Actually there are about 10-20% of women who just either don’t have their milk come in, or don’t have enough of it come in. And it can vary by pregnancy. My mom didn’t have enough milk for her first child, but was fine for her second and third children. My sister has only one child but also did not have enough milk for her. Posts that say “nearly every woman can breastfeed” do hurt these women who spend many sleepless nights and don’t get the right sort of help from groups like La Leche, because they just don’t have enough milk. They also have screaming, starving babies because they’ve been told that it’s natural and if you just try hard enough you can do it. And unlike your above examples, NEITHER had any sort of breast surgery, and both had lots of support from medical professionals and others before they finally had to supplement to have a healthy baby.

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 10:27 am

      Indeed. Please notice what I wrote: “The vast majority of women can successfully breastfeed given the right circumstances.”

      Is 80-90% of women not a “vast majority”? And did I not add the qualifier “given the right circumstances?”

      Or is it your goal not to argue, but to re-affirm what I said in my post?

      • JS
        April 3, 2013 | 7:08 pm

        It’s more of just a vent about all the people who insist that all women can breastfeed. Since there is a percentage who can’t, 1-2 women out of every 10.

        • Anna
          April 5, 2013 | 1:18 am

          I think in more community-oriented cultures (both past and present) a mother not producing enough milk was easily handled by having family/friends with babies help out. A friend and neighbor of mine is having her second baby a month or two before I have my second, and although neither of us anticipate issues with supply, we’re kind of excited about getting a little tribal and nursing each other’s babies from time to time when it would be a help. That kind of exchange feels right to my own instincts. (Am totally aware that a lot of women *don’t* want to do this, which is fine with me. Just sharing my own experience.)

  13. Allison Jordan
    April 3, 2013 | 11:30 am

    “And finally, don’t be discouraged if they don’t do what you would do. Each one of us is different. Remember, you are the only expert on your life. Only YOU have walked in your own shoes; only YOU know the daily struggles, compromises, and decisions you’ve faced. The reverse is also true. You are NOT the expert in your friends’ lives. You have NOT walked in their shoes. You do NOT know their daily struggles. You are not them. So, please, do not judge.”

    I love this. Thank you for sharing. Thanks for encouraging us to give grace and receive it. I had so many opinions before I gave birth and then I had serious breastfeeding issues. I had no idea what kind of struggle it is at times. Moms are in need of such support and yet are often met with judgement instead. What a great reminder to lift mommies up.

  14. Jan
    April 3, 2013 | 11:46 am

    Thank you for this positive article on how to nourish babies! There have been some very negative blog postings in recent weeks that have been so hurtful for those of us who can’t breast feed. It’s already heart-renching enough to not have children-let alone be told your not trying hard enough if you can’t give a child breast milk! My husband and I haven’t been blessed with our own children and have opted to be foster parents. The state doesn’t allow you to breastfeed (if inducing lactation even worked for me) or use donor milk. They would be appalled if they knew I choose to use a homemade formula.

  15. Paula
    April 3, 2013 | 11:53 am

    This article is telling my story! We had our baby 2 months ago and was hoping and expecting to breastfeed exclusively but sadly I don’t have enough supply so I am supplementing with formula.
    My husband and I have a very healthy diet, we eat organic food as much as possible, we don’t eat out of cans, etc. and I expected the same healthy diet for our baby. It was really hard to accept the fact that my milk was not enough for my baby and would have to give him formula. Was a difficult time and even though I am still not happy with it, I now accept it.
    We are giving him Earth’s Best milk based, which we thought would be his best option but I am reading here that you recommend Baby’s Only.
    Do you think switching to this one would be the best for my baby?
    Does Earth’s Best has the ARASCO and DHASCO that you mention?
    Is the the only difference between the two brands?
    Thank you so much for your answer and I am VERY glad I subscribed to your webpage!

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 1:11 pm

      Hi Paula,

      Did you mean to post this comment elsewhere? I’m confused because this post never mentions brands or ingredients. It just lays out the basics.

  16. Jessie
    April 3, 2013 | 11:57 am

    We adopted Amelia at at 2 days old. Her birthmom graciously breastfed her in the hospital because she knew it was best for her baby. We found donor milk through facebook groups like, Human Milk for Human Babies and Eats of Feets. We had multiple breastfeeding moms/surrogates who donated to us, we are forever grateful for their donations. At 4 months we felt like we couldn’t keep asking for donations, their were other little ones who needed milk more. We decided to try a homemade formula using raw cows milk, Amelia thrived on it. Amelia just turned 1 and we are still happily giving her this homemade formula. Here is the link for the recipe we used.
    http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/video-homemade-milk-based-baby-formula/

  17. Aloka
    April 3, 2013 | 12:18 pm

    I am exclusively breast feeding at the moment and I also have only the Internet and this community to turn to for anything. It’s hard sometimes not to judge formula feeding mothers specially when you know they don’t have a medical problem. I suppose they don’t really get what they’re giving up. Thanks for this post!

    • KristenM
      April 3, 2013 | 12:49 pm

      Or maybe they don’t feel like they’re giving up anything. Moms who don’t breastfeed still nurse their babies; they just use bottles to do it. There’s still a lot of wonderful bonding going on.

  18. Natalie
    April 3, 2013 | 1:49 pm

    I most likely will not be breast feeding out of concern of transmitting Lyme Disease and other tick borne illnesses to the baby. I just cannot find enough information concerning whether or not it is possible to transmit Lyme through breast feeding to make me comfortable with it. I’ve had a horrible time with my own health due to Lyme, and there’s no way I would pass this on to a child.

    I plan to make my own formula.

  19. Melanie
    April 3, 2013 | 1:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story and for getting the word out about donor milk. The more who know, the more milk will be available for babies in need. I help admin the HM4HB chapter in my area and love hearing successful stories like this.

    Thank you!

  20. Sharmista
    April 3, 2013 | 3:30 pm

    Thank you for acknowledging the importance of breastfeeding AND the reality that some women do not make enough milk despite their best efforts. I have breast hypoplasia and physically cannot make enough milk. I have supplemented with formula every time (5 babies). I was blessed to be able to get donor milk with just two of them. The rest, unfortunately, had to have commercial formula. I wanted to make homemade formula, but I live in a raw milk illegal state. Therefore, getting raw milk of any kind was not an option. As moms, we do the best we can even though it sometimes is not ideal. I got my babies off of formula as soon as they were eating well and continued to breastfeed with my small supply until they were two or older. In my mind, I did the best I could.

    Again, thank you for this encouraging post, especially amid the storm of controversy that has been going on with this topic.

  21. Rebecca Miller
    April 3, 2013 | 3:36 pm

    I wasn’t able to breastfeed past 6 months with my LO. So we made our own formula. At the time it seemed insane honestly. It was so scary to give him raw milk, bone broth etc. But he did great and as I thought about it I realized (may seem obvious) for thousands of years when nursing didn’t work they would have turned to this type of formula. Sometimes the mainstream ideas in my head make real food seem extreme when in reality it is todays mainstream that is extreme. Never in the thousands of documented years of life on this palnet have people consumed so many chemicals voluntarily. I will always be grateful to have had the option to provide nourishing foods to my LO when the ideal couldn’t work.

  22. April
    April 3, 2013 | 7:23 pm

    Thank you for the article. When I had my son, I did not produce enough milk for him despite pumping around the clock every three hours. We saw several lactation consultants who just kept telling me to pump more! I honestly felt like a failure of a mother from the start because I could not breastfeed and sincerely wanted to. I still feel bad if he gets sick and I wonder if his immune system could have been better. Wish I would have known about the donor milk. Women shouldn’t judge other moms and assume they understand why a mom isn’t breastfeeding.

  23. Sussana
    April 3, 2013 | 10:12 pm

    Hi! My baby is 28 months, and still breastfeeding. I’ve had 5 pediatricians and a larger number of nurses telling me why I couldn’t breastfeed since the day my baby was born. From telling me I had no milk (just by looking at my face), to saying that breastmilk has an “expiration date”, I’ve heard it all. This makes me so sad, thinking of all the mothers they have convinced to feed their babies formula. I think this is one of the reasons that a lot of moms believe they can’t breastfeed, if the experts are telling us that we can’t, they must be right…who are we to tell them they are wrong? I tried, but they wouldn’t listen. I know there are several biological reasons why a woman will not be able to breastfeed, but it’s just sad that most women can, but are convinced by others that they are not able to.

  24. Heather
    April 4, 2013 | 12:58 am

    Thank you so much for this article. I am a mother who had all the best supports, a generous maternity leave, and access to some of the best experts in the country on breastfeeding (I live in Seattle.) I did everything I could to breastfeed my child. Sadly breastfeeding still didn’t work out for me in the end. I have experienced a lot of grief and loss because of this and finally feel at peace now that I am feeding my son homemade formula. He is thriving and I know I am giving him the best I am able to given my circumstances. No one can know what it feels like to not be able to breastfeed if they haven’t gone through it, and hearing people say repeatedly that there is something more that can be done do “fix” people’s situations is not helpful and is in fact hurtful. In my situation I feel like the extreme pressure I got to continue breastfeeding even though it was emotionally and physically not healthy, actually caused me not to be able to breastfeed in the long run. But that is my story and I won’t go into it here. My point is that everyone has an opinion about mothers, breastfeeding and parenting, but the only opinion that is truly valid or “right” is the one of the mother in regards to her own situation She is the only one who lives it, and knows what is best for her and her child. I thank you for making this point, and for supporting those of us who have experienced the tremendous loss of not being able to breastfeed by providing real solutions for feeding our babies. I believe all parents need to work harder (including myself) at being less judgemental about other parents and this applies to all parenting practices, choices and family situations.

  25. Lindsay
    April 4, 2013 | 10:29 am

    Hi Kristen,
    I’m so grateful for this article! We are in the process of adopting an infant and I am soaking up all the information I can on this subject. I plan to use the NT homemade formula you referenced, but I would also like to use breast milk. My question is: do you feel that breast milk from a mother eating a SAD diet is better than homemade formula? Ideally I’d love to have breast milk from someone eating a nutrient dense diet, but I realize beggars can’t be choosy!
    Sarah Pope feels that the homemade formula would be a better choice and I often agree with her on many things (http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/are-donor-breastmilk-banks-ever-a-good-idea/), but I haven’t completely made up my mind. I’d love to hear your opinion and anyone else who would like to chime in.
    Thank you!

  26. Sherra Kinder
    April 4, 2013 | 10:39 pm

    Thank you for stepping on my toes a little. I also appreciate your honesty about your experience and your friend Lindsey as well. I am glad to know about milk banks/trades and homemade formula-that is a great resource I will share for sure! Thank you again! Sincerely, Sherra

  27. Jennifer
    April 4, 2013 | 10:48 pm

    I am so glad to read recommendations on homemade formula. My baby has been on homemade formula for 3 months and she thrives on it. I tried breastfeeding in the beginning and tried really hard.

    My issue was that I developed PUPPS after delivery and was covered in hives head to toe for months. The antihistamines dried up my supply so I started my munchkin on the best organic dairy formula and she reacted the same way Lindsay’s daughter did.

    After 3-5 weeks of a constipated newborn and crying myself to sleep because I hated to see her in pain, I researched and found the Weston Price formula. I haven’t looked back. I highly recommend it to all my friends.

  28. Tiffany
    April 4, 2013 | 10:51 pm

    I was unable to breastfeed either of my children due to insufficient tissue. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me over the years, I could have gotten you to breastfeed. I homebirthed, paid multiple in-home and hospital-based lactation consultants for months after each pregnancy, and had intense and ongoing midwife support with my breastfeeding. I “nursed” my daughter until she was 2. There was no milk and nobody could have changed that for us. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever faced and the “knowing” judgement that I’ve gotten from so many places was only counterproductive.

    I was touched by how readily moms with excess milk were willing to share. At one point, we entered into a milksharing relationship whereby we paid a couple for their excess milk. There are so, so many women who are willing to help. And, after we had exhausted our sources for breastmilk, we used both versions of the Nourishing Traditions homemade formula. It was labor intensive, but less than an hour per day and so, so worth it. My son slept in his sling on my back every night for much of his first year while I was in the kitchen making his formula. it is more than possible.

  29. Sarah
    April 4, 2013 | 11:14 pm

    First of all, let me say that I DO wish I had known about homemade formula when my kids were babies. I have 5 kids and had a terrible time trying to breast feed all of them. Nightmare nurses, nazi la lache league pushers and physical issues all added up to all 5 of mine being formula fed…

    But here’s the thing…

    Ugh!!! Nobody cares! Seriously! We agonize over this so much as moms, but nobody asks if your kid breast fed when they get to kindergarten! No ones cares if your baby nursed until they were past two when they go to their first soccer game! And you WILL NOT be able to tell which kids were breast fed and which kids were not.

    I know you’re doing this so that more moms have access to info out there, and that’s great, but can we all just cut each other some slack and lighten up?! I know, it’s your baby’ s nutrition and at the time it feels like THE MOST MOMENTOUS decision you will ever have to make, but trust me…it’s not.

    • KristenM
      April 6, 2013 | 11:57 am

      Sarah,

      I love this part of your comment “Nobody cares! Seriously!”

      It’s not only true about breastfeeding, but about all kinds of other things we put pressure on ourselves about. My first real epiphany happened when I was graduating from college with a perfect GPA. It had literally been more than a decade since I’d made anything less than an A in a class. This is a HUGE accomplishment right? Well, I suddenly realized that in the “real world,” nobody cared about my grades. There may be a few cases where it *may* matter — like applying for further higher education in grad schools, etc. But for the most part, people hardly even care what COLLEGE you go to, let alone the grades you make while there.

      All that said, I *do* think most moms want to have integrity and do what they think is best for their kids. I think that, for their sakes, it’s important to get quality information out there so that they can make the most informed decisions possible.

  30. MB
    April 4, 2013 | 11:16 pm

    Well written and compassionate. I bf my children exclusively nearly 40 years ago. I also worked f/t time after they were one month old. I hand-pumped while at work and froze that milk. Extra work? Yes, but worth it all. As a nurse I knew the benefits to them and to me. I was fortunate with an over-abundant milk supply, so with my last child I also fed a little guy from India who could not tolerate formulas or goat milk.

    I also gave birth 100% naturally. I think too few women these days know that ANY medications they take during labor will impact their milk production…usually negatively. This includes the use of epidurals. It all impacts you and your baby. However, far too few doctors and nurses take the time to educate expectant mothers, and if they don’t then those moms think anything given to them in labor is risk free. Not so!

    Plan for childbirth as much as for the coming baby. Get help and plan for a natural birth. It can be done…you will be glad you did. Barring complications needing a C-section, women are designed for giving birth…and it only hurts for a little while, truly.

  31. coree
    April 4, 2013 | 11:18 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful, balanced story. I’m grateful for this kind of sharing.

  32. Cindy F
    April 4, 2013 | 11:23 pm

    When my mother gave birth to me, she received the same advice from her doctor…..you don’t have enough milk. When I gave birth to my first child, 33 years ago, I, fortunately, had great support from my staunch, rigid military doctor. Everything was great. Four years later, when I found out I was having twins, most people I knew, who were even proponents of breast feeding tried to discourage my from trying to feed two. Strangely enough, it was a team of young doctors who delivered my girls, that encouraged me, and said , basically, “Why not?” Both girls were breastfed until they were a year old, and I am happy to say that all my daughters are great participants and supporters of breastfeeding!

  33. Jan in Canada
    April 4, 2013 | 11:58 pm

    I don’t have kids, but kudos to those of you who do and choose breast feeding. I’m obssesed with finding out what’s in our food and randomly check various items when I’m in the grocery store. Last time found me in the baby food department. OMG! The crap, especially corn products (80% of corn is GMO), in baby food astounded me. How are mothers supposed to raise healthy children when everything from the multi-nationals is garbage? I would assume most of the readers of this blog buy local and make their own. Bravo for you!

  34. Lauren
    April 5, 2013 | 6:21 am

    What a wonderful post. I can only hope that more Moms will be blessed with your situation – no impediments to breastfeeding. I was lucky that way and successfully breastfed my three kids – long term, with a very supportive family and community. I hope that the views are changing so that when my daughters have children the norm will be exclusive breastfeeding instead of the opposite and that all families will get the support they need.

  35. Jill P
    April 5, 2013 | 7:02 am

    I want to scream from the rooftops – 4 oz IS a big deal – I was a one-sided mom due to a previous surgery and exclusively BF both my babies for over a year each. I also had no mom figure to help me figure it all out. My kids didn’t like the low supply on the one side, so they both gave up on that side a couple months in. I never had more than 4 oz for them at a time, and they both grew just fine! The amount of milk a little baby needs is way out of proportion IMO.
    I also think it is wrong of the WaPF to claim that because my diet wasn’t perfect, I would’ve been better off formula feeding them. That cuts to the core, in a bad way. Do I wish I would have known there were probably GMO’s in some of my food? That I would’ve eaten pastured eggs and beef instead of store organic? That I had known to increase my gut flora? YES, but you will never convince me that my milk didn’t nourish my babies. And telling people that they have to eat just like Sally Fallon or else is going to do nothing but discourage – everyone that has made the switch to real food knows that the change takes a long time and a lot of research and learning, and I just don’t think most people have the luxury of spending two years on their diet before conceiving. Hopefully our children and their generation can know this in time, but I just think it’s not realistic for the masses right now.
    My 2 cents! Thanks for the post, as always.
    Jill

  36. Melissa
    April 5, 2013 | 7:27 am

    I worked full time when my first baby was born and I pumped during my lunch break and gave the milk to the babysitter to feed him the next day. At home, during the day and night, I fed him from the breast only. I found that the biggest sacrifice I had to make was being willing to nurse every 2 hours to keep my milk supply up since I could only pump once a day. I was almost 30 and boy was I tired! I am so thankful that I was able to make it work, though! I did not have any friends or family who breastfed, so it was difficult and I admit that I felt “trapped” some days because I didn’t have any help at home and lived far from my family at the time. I hope this encourages any mom who desperately wants to breastfeed but feels like circumstances won’t allow. I pray also, however, that for moms who try and can’t that they will allow themselves mercy and grace to know that all you can do is try your best and then move on to the backup plan! I do feel that modern doctors and friends encourage moms to give up too soon, however, so I would definately keep that in mind!

  37. Lynn
    April 5, 2013 | 8:52 am

    My mother came to me crying one day, after watching Dr Oz, because she had listened to society at a time when nursing was not popular. I was never breast fed. I have had chronic migraines since early childhood, and allergies to all grains,dairy, and many other things.I assured her that she did the best she could. The past is past and nothing can change what happened. Sally Fallon has helped me as an adult to feel better. Nourishing Traditions is excellent advice. I nursed my sons until they weaned themselves. We eat organic produce and grass fed beef, farm raised chickens and eggs. My two sons are much more healthier than I am. now age 39 and 35. I also had no help from mom because she had no clue. LLL was amazing for me. It was hard getting mastitis and having my GYN doctor tell me to quit nursing and that he would lance and drain it in the morning….then calling LLL in desperation (no bottles in the house)and being put on bed rest, hot wet wash cloth soaks and penicillin and being told the opposite…to nurse on the affected side every hour to keep it empty. My family doc prescribed the meds. I will be eternally grateful to LLL. This blog is great advice. Thanks for the love.

  38. bobbie joh
    April 5, 2013 | 9:25 am

    my story started 21 years ago:
    when my daughter was born, I had no idea about breastfeeding. My mother was useless, and I had never been around babies. In the hospital, there was a lovely lady who helped me quite a bit – she was calm and gentle (i was scared and nervous). However, once we got home we realized my daughter had terrible colic. I immediately blamed it on the breastfeeding. I called La Leche League (at least I knew to do that much..) but they were useless. Seriously useless. I did not live in some backwater: I lived in the bay area and called as many LLL people as I could. None knew what to do for colic! All they were able to tell me was to cut out hard to digest greens like broccoli and stick to a lamb and rice diet. By week six of her life, I had had it. She cried constantly and never slept more than 3-4 hours at a time. My mother-in-law quietly told me one day “you know, no one said you HAD to do this…” She was right, in her own way: we were all exhausted. We continued to struggle with her colic, but I started her on formula and got a little more sleep. She never slept through the night until she was 16 months old (one night).

    This was 21 years ago.. I went on to have more children, which I DID breastfeed, no thanks to LLL. I hope they have started to train their “advisors” better than they used to. between my first child and my second and third, I was able to arm myself with that all-important ingredient INFORMATION. This was before the internet and Sally Fallon’s book, so it wasn’t as easy as it is now. I regret not having had the information that is available now. My daughter’s immune system was seriously compromised for years – ear infections and the antibiotics to go with them. She is now a healthier person, thanks to the info I (finally) got from Nourishing Traditions. My breastfed babies had far, far fewer problems as toddlers than she did.

    I can only encourage women to breastfeed, but try not to be judgemental when they choose not to. I can completely understand the frustration and anxiety of not knowing where to turn. I am hopeful that LLL has begun a new era of training their advisors, and I am so grateful to Nourishing Traditions for including a formula so that people know there is a choice.

  39. Jennifer
    April 5, 2013 | 11:52 am

    So annoyed by this article and I’m a HUGE breast milk advocate! (I’m still nursing my 9 month old). The statistics she used, “only 15% of 6 month olds vein breast fed, is not as bad as it sounds. Most babies start solids around 6 months AND also nurse. Her statistic made it sound more dramatic than it actually is.

    • Jennifer
      April 5, 2013 | 11:55 am

      *”15%of 6 month olds are exclusively breast fed”

  40. Jessica
    April 6, 2013 | 12:00 am

    So lovely to read all these posts of you fellow women who endeavor to breast feed and nourish your children. I work on a birthing unit in a hospital in Tennessee, and I teach all the breastfeeding classes here at my hospital. They are poorly attended – sometimes only 1-10% of the moms who are going to be first-time breastfeeders bother to attend a class. I get so discouraged by the other moms that I see that seem so self-centered that they quit breastfeeding – often before they even attempt it! If they are in a bit of pain after their delivery, they say “Just give it a bottle.” If they get too tired on the second night when that little baby wants to feed frequently, they send it to the nursery and have us supplement with formula, not even caring when they are warned that it might jeopardize their milk supply. They are too busy with their phones and their friends to feed their babies. I have spent countless hours standing by bedsides helping a babies to latch, only to have the moms quit breastfeeding in the morning just because it’s too much work. Thank you for restoring my faith in moms…at least there are some out there who care about what they are feeding their infants. By the way, I am breastfeeding my third at this time – and so grateful that when I knew NOTHING about breastfeeding (as with my first two), I was able to do it with relatively few complications. I had no idea how difficult it can be for moms…I just love to help those who are committed to giving it their best effort. But you can’t seem to fix the selfishness I see in the vast majority of these women – I worry about the rest of the child’s parenting – if they are unwilling to make the temporary sacrifices required of breastfeeding, what about the longer term sacrifices that come with parenting? It worries me…

  41. Sharla
    April 6, 2013 | 9:12 pm

    My mother breastfed all 7 of my brothers and sisters and they went from breast to cup. However, she lived far away and never encountered any problems breastfeeding. Alone, I struggled at first because my colostrum did not satisfy my son and my milk didn’t come in until day 3. Uneducated, and with no support, I continued to attempt to nurse while using a supplemental system given to me by the hospital. Fortunately a friend stayed with me when I came home from the hospital and encouraged me to keep trying to breastfeed. She showed me how to get him to latch-on properly and how to hold him to encourage him to nurse. My milk finally came in and I was a success from that day forward. I had overactive letdown and a slight case of mastitus but a little encouragement went a long way. I nursed him past 13 months and worked part-time. Nursing is one of the best experiences as a mom.

  42. bill
    April 7, 2013 | 11:16 am

    the ‘gold bar’ comment moved me. Great info. Great article!

  43. Amber
    April 7, 2013 | 3:17 pm

    Oh my goodness, how this resonates with me today! I successfully breastfed 4 babies and so assumed number 5 would follow the same path. He couldn’t gain weight. I did everything I could to increase my supply. By five weeks he was just skin and bones and the doctor said formula or he will be hospitalized. Then started supplementing with formula. I was still breastfeeding as much as I could. He also struggled with gas, difficulty pooping, spitting up and eczema from the beginning. As we have tried to solve his problems, we have tried probably 10 different commercial formulas! I would cringe when I looked at the labels, but I honestly had never heard or thought of making my own formula. He is 6 months now and I have just 3 days ago had to grieve total loss of breastfeeding at this point. I am dry. But as we discovered that the hypoallergenic $30/can formula still did not help him, the thought of goat milk came to my mind. I started researching that and became so excited to learn I could make my own formula! He is now on just day three of this and only this morning was able to clear the last of the commercial formula clay poo. I pray this is the answer to his health and happiness.

    • KristenM
      April 7, 2013 | 3:19 pm

      I should hope so! Please check back in with us and let us know about your successful resolution to all this. :)

  44. Christa
    April 7, 2013 | 7:13 pm

    I have to say this was a very gently and respectfully crafted article and I couldn’t agree with you more. I have two boys. One of whom I failed at breastfeeding with and had all the awful feelings of guilt and one of whom never got formula even though I worked full time and traveled sometimes out of state. I have had both experiences and I have to tell you, it is devastating when it doesn’t work out. Positive encouragement and kindness are the only things a nursing mother needs. Or any mother nursing or not.

  45. Nina
    April 8, 2013 | 10:21 pm

    I’m looking for a homemade Vegan formula for my 9month old, I would appreciate any help!

    • Sandrine Love
      April 8, 2013 | 11:23 pm

      I don’t know of any homemade vegan formulas we, at Nourishing Our Children, could recommend. The only homemade formulas we recommend are those that include animal fat and protein, which we consider to be essential for babies. My understanding is that Kristen of Food Renegade holds the same position.

    • DaNelle Wolford
      April 8, 2013 | 11:31 pm

      I love Matt Monarch & Angela Stokes Monarch who are Raw Food Vegans. They have great advice if you’re looking for a vegan option.

      Watch this video, they talk about alternatives to breastfeeding at the 8:15 mark.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhMD5hzc9OA

      Good luck!

  46. Michelle
    April 9, 2013 | 11:52 pm

    This is a wonderful and encouraging article. I was a total weirdo with my first son in that I pumped nearly exclusively for a year straight with him even refusing to nurse from 5 months old. Praise God I had a huge supply (at my highest points, I produced a gallon a day) that I was truly blessed to be able to share with the babies of two other mothers. Looking back, donating my breast milk was quite possibly the most joyous thing I’ve done because I know how greatly those mothers needed it.

    I don’t mean to boast about my large supply (a total blessing) or anything, but instead, I mentioned it because I relied on the conveniences of pumping (scheduling and guarantee of fully “draining”). Also of note, pumping that much milk for that long did do some damage to me, which concerns me for future breastfeeding.

    I’m actually expecting the arrival of our second son in May and plan to breastfeed exclusively this time around, but I’m actually nervous about being successful with it. I know every pregnancy and babies are different, so I’m concerned I could fail after having so much milk with my first. Breastfeeding is completely natural, but there is a bit of an art to it that I hope to master now that I have the opportunity to exclusively do it.

    This article and the many comments have offered me so much encouragement! I don’t know if I could ask for donated milk should issues arise because I feel guilty since I know I can provide my child a homemade formula (we exclusively drink raw milk anyways). Some women do not feel comfortable with the homemade formula, so I would much rather leave donated milk for them. :)

    I hope all women at least try to breastfeed their children because it’s the best blessing you can provide your newborn. Blessings to all!

  47. Kellie
    April 10, 2013 | 7:53 am

    This made me feel so much better. I was so determined to breastfeed my daughter, but I didn’t have a support system. My mom didn’t breastfeed and actually told me i was crazy for wanting to do it, and my husbands mother didnt breasfeed either. Unfortunately I thought breastfeeding would come so naturally that I didn’t do much research ahead of time. I didn’t even have any friends at the time who had successfully breastfed their children.

    I was also told that a lactation consultant would visit us in the hospital, but she didn’t arrive until 15 minutes before we were rushed out of the door at the hospital on the day of our discharge…so she was little help.

    At first, I thought everything was going great. But at 5 1/2 weeks, my daughter started nursing nonstop…I’m not talking cluster feeding, I’m talking nursing 24 hours a day and screaming if she was removed. I ended up finding a lactation consultant, and she did help…giving me a hospital grade pump to help with supply, but even though I was a stay at home mom, I found pumping to be very difficult…I yielded very little milk from pumping, and I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with my daughter while I was sitting there pumping for 10-20 minutes every couple of hours. I did everything I could do…herbs, teas, everything, but nothing seemed to help my milk supply.

    After many tears and long discussions with my husband, we decided to supplement with formula. I did not know you could make formula at home, just I went along with a suggestion from our pediatrician. Every time I made a bottle of formula, I felt guilty…I felt like I’d failed my daughter.

    My supply kept dwindling and dwindling, and at 9 months, my daughter started refusing the breast, and I realized that my supply had completely dried up and we had to switch to full time formula. It was heartbreaking, and to this day (my daughter is now almost 2), I still feel horrible about it. I wanted to do the best for my child and I felt like I couldnt do that. I felt almost broken.

    She is happy and healthy, and I know that is all that matters. Im hoping I don’t have the same problem with my next child, but do plan on meeting with a lactation consultant ahead of time to see if there is anything I can do to better prepare.

  48. Courtney
    May 6, 2013 | 12:42 pm

    It’s so wonderful for someone in the traditional foods community to acknowledge breastfeeding struggles. I tried desperately, but was completely unable. I never produced more than 3-5 milliliters… yes, milliliters… despite nursing twins on demand and pumping every 2 hours for 2 months! My twins have thrived on the homemade formula.

  49. Stephanie
    May 6, 2013 | 2:20 pm

    I appreciate the ease with which the author was able to successfully breastfeed. But it sort of gave the impression that it’s really difficult unless you are in a situation where your baby can access you 24/7. And that’s not true. My daughter and I had trouble starting breastfeeding. She had digestive upsets from my milk and I had to change the way I eat. I went back to work full time when she was 3mo. I pumped 3 times a day. She never had formula. When she was 12-14mo I weaned from pumping. She’s now 2.5yo, I’m still working full time, and she’s still breastfeeding 2-3 times a day.

    In short: lots of things can help breastfeeding but being a SAHM isn’t the only way!

  50. Rebecca C
    May 23, 2013 | 7:03 pm

    I was a long time breastfeeder with my first baby. My second baby was premature and unfortunately in those circumstances of spending so much of the first months in the hospital, it hurts the breastfeeding relationship. i also thought that anyone can breastfeed. well anyone can, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. i landed on the same homemade formula and baby number two loves it! eight months old now and big for his age. you’d never think he was a preemie (2 months early). the whole experience has taught me not to be critical of people who can’t breastfeed. p.s. i make a double batch of formula so i only have to make it every two days. it takes about 20 minutes to make a double batch.

  51. Sharon
    June 28, 2013 | 10:50 am

    Thank you so much for your tender-hearted plea.
    I exclusively breast fed my first four children. I remember strangers coming up to me in the mall and thanking me for breast feeding. People were so kind and encouraging. Then I had a preemie who had strong oral aversions. I pumped while trying to help him accept the breast. He never had formula accept once when a NICU nurse went against my wishes. I was adamant. If I could supply it, I would give my child breast milk. Then came the unexplainable. My 6th child could not suck from either a bottle or from the breast. If anyone should have known how to help a baby with nipple aversion, it would be me. This wasn’t a latching or other such issue, though. The doctors were stumped. We learned how to use bottle nipples for larger babies so that the milk would pour into his mouth. We watched carefully with every feeding and I exclusively pumped for him. He was drinking just what his older siblings drank, yet the reactions of others were markedly different.
    I got dirty looks! Nobody thanked me for bottle feeding. Nobody asked how old he was while I was sitting in a mall feeding him a bottle. I just received looks of condemnation.
    He grew and grew as I continued to pump for a year. He was such a healthy and happy baby, but the sneers from stranger never stopped. Our son learned to speak with no issues from the lack of ability to shape his mouth and suck when young. At the end of a year, he suddenly began sucking from a straw! Again, the doctor couldn’t explain it. The looks of the rude people who assumed I was feeding my son formula are engrained in my mind, though. This little social experiment has changed my perspective. Thank you for encouraging people not to judge! I wonder if people realize how cruel those stares can be. Imagine if I had to deal with the guilt of not being able to breastfeed when I wanted to. We can all use a lesson in kindness.

  52. Kathryn
    October 24, 2013 | 3:50 pm

    I breastfed three babies exclusively and even had enough with my first to give several hundred ounces to my sister in-law who had no supply at all. When son #4 was born my milk never quite came in. I pumped and pumped, tried herbs and even a prescription but nothing worked. At four months of age he was a formula baby and I was a failure. This was 8.5 years ago and before I knew about clean eating, GMO’s and crappy formula.

    He has autism and although I don’t believe this is what led to it I wonder if he would have had a better chance had I been able to breastfeed him.

  53. Colleen
    January 4, 2014 | 8:38 am

    Hi everyone, Can you give any suggestions for more natural formula? My baby is due in a few months and with a 2 yr old and having to work I’ll need to supplement. I saw 365 brand at whole foods and earths best. Let me know, thanks

  54. Anna Tysvaer-Davies via Facebook
    April 15, 2014 | 1:14 am

    Great topic. I struggled to breastfeed all my three children. It was not through want of trying from double pumping every 3hours in special care unit, to exclusively breastfeeding for days resulting in my severely jaundiced daughter to go hungry, the midwives would not listen to me that something wasn’t right. With my second I was pumping to increase supply until the pump was full of blood. 3rd time, again severe jaundice, the amount of formula she guzzled after sucessful feeding immediately after birth, was immense! At only 3days old she’d be draining more than 3oz each feed!!!! My youngest is now 7months, and unfortunately on commercial formula, to which I add a few extras. But finding it hard to find the right ingredients listed (and suppliers) in the american written recpies. Starting to look into goats milk as a substitute as she’s now on solids I can ensure she gets all the nutrients she needs. God willing. Any tips appreciated!

  55. The Reallyheal Company, LLC via Facebook
    April 15, 2014 | 11:39 am

    there are some great herbs to help with this: fennel, dill seed, raspberry leaf, anise seed…to name a few

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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