I suspect this title will get a lot of attention, and I am glad. Let me share why...

I am an acupuncturist, nutritionist, holistic health practitioner, working on a website to join natural minded fertility, pregnancy, birthing, and baby practitioners. I know quite a bit about the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding as well as the downsides of formula. I have two sons, one is two, the other 9 1/2 months old. I am also the daughter of a lactation consultant...

I attended the showing of BOBB last night in Laguna Niguel, hosted by Milkalicious (they were fabulous, by the way, thank you), and before the film they showed a short video in support of breastfeeding, which is much needed. I support the push for breastfeeding and more education about why it is necessary to do all you can to breastfeed your baby for as long as possible. But, one thing I was disappointed about, was how bad it made me feel, as a mom who has had to resort to formula on occasion due to complications. Here's my story:

At 17 days old, my son had to be admitted to the NICU for elevated bilirubin levels. It was the highest level that anyone at our pediatric office and at the local hospital had ever seen in a newborn. I was forced to take my son off the breast for 48 hours and rely on formula while they tested him, and as much as I wanted to continue to breastfeed, they just would not let me. The bili went down after weeks of bili lights, herbs, homeopathy, and any other therapy I could find, but he still had to have formula for a couple days, and as much as that hurt me, I know I have done my best since he has gotten mostly breastmilk since then.

Another issue we have been dealing with is chronic thrush. Since he was about 3 months old, we have been fighting it any way I can think of. I have tried EVERYTHING! Probiotics, grapefruit seed extract, diet, homeopathy, chinese herbs... you name it, I've probably done it. I also did two 2 week rounds of diflucan.. it just came back. For those of you who have dealt with thrush, maybe you know how painful it can be. My nipples have been cracked, cut, bleeding, extremely painful when the baby latches on, and off, and on again (he gets distracted sometimes when feeding...). Pumping is just as painful. It has gotten to the point where many times I dread feeding him. That is NOT what I want my baby to sense from me! I fear him latching on and off, sometimes scream in pain, and I know that he is affected by this. I have been, and still am, close to giving up breastfeeding.

I'm not asking for sympathy, nor am I asking for support, though it is always appreciated. I am surrounded by support, but it does not help my situation. I cannot afford to buy breastmilk; therefore, I have, at times when my nipples are completely thrashed, used formula as a substitute. As much as I hate the thought, I still am considering switching completely to formula.

With that said, I feel that when promoting breastfeeding, just as when promoting natural birth, we need to understand that there are some mothers out there who have tried their best, but just might need to rely on formula or a C section for their baby's health. When sitting in the audience last night, I felt COMPLETELY horrible for having given my baby formula. I remember one mom in the video that Milkalicious showed said that it was sooo dangerous for a mother to be breastfeeding and supplementing with formula at the same time.

What are those dangers??? Is it the contaminants possibly found in formula? PLEASE be aware that breastmilk can contain contaminants as well!!! What we have in our bodies will be present in our breastmilk, and because we live in a contaminated environment, it is unavoidable! Most women do not do a deep detox before falling pregnant, and many women do not eat completely organic food, use all natural, organic products, skin care, make up, etc.. so rest assured we will find parabens, MSG, and other chemicals in our breastmilk!

In no way am I trying to compare formula to breastmilk. All I am trying to say is that, in my opinion, it gets the job done when all else fails. A mother should not be condemned for having to resort to formula. If she is educated on the facts about the benefits of breastmilk and what her baby is missing out on when he or she is not breastfed, as I am, then she will feel bad enough giving her baby formula.

I am in complete support for other mothers out there who have truly given their best to breastfeeding, but for one reason or another, made the decision to quit. I would never wish the difficulties and pain that I have been through with breastfeeding on another woman. I think that we need to support breastfeeding education, as well as natural therapies that can assist in problems that may arise in breastfeeding, but I also think we need to find a way to get better formula available to our mothers and babies, and support research for that cause as well.

Please, in the future, try to be a bit more sensitive to other mothers out there, who love their babies just as much as you love yours and have tried their best to support them and their health in every way they can. It is my opinion that making the statement that a mother is endangering her baby's health when she feeds him formula is a little too harsh. It might be better just to say that we all know breastmilk is best, but sometimes, formula can be ok too.

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Jen,

Thank you so much for sharing your story and thoughts with us in this community. I agree with you 110%. We all love our babies so much. We all want what is best for them. We do our best every day as mothers. Every day. Who are any one of us to judge? Especially, especially, when we do not know the stories behind the decisions that other mothers make.

You should try not to feel bad. It sounds like you have gone above and beyond trying to find a remedy to your affliction. It's not your fault!

Your choice is a courageous one. I can tell you have your son's best interests at mind. I'm sorry that you feel you must defend yourself against other mothers opinions. We should be safe with each other, in this world full of people, (men, women who have not yet bore children) who do not know the joy and love that we women get to feel, this all consuming love that beams from us, when we have children.

Thank you again for sharing. I hope many people read this. It's a good reminder.

Kaitlin
You could not have worded it any better!!!! I brought my friend that nite to the showing of BOBB. She stopped nursing her daughter at like 2 or 3 wks, and last nite they made her feel TERRIBLE! She tried her best and so many things were stacked up against her and she couldnt do it. And myself recently, has also stopped breastfeeding. My daughter is 6 1/2 months. She was always a bad latcher, no lactation consultant could help. SO I decided 2nd best thing was to pump for my daughter and feed her in a bottle, and thats what I have been doing, until my pump "died" the other nite. I've been a SAHM and dad just got laid off last month. So I cannot afford another pump. I've had about 4 days of drying up now. And I think its all done with now. I do have WIC, and have had formula collecting over the months that I am now using. But I feel like even tho my daughter got breastmilk for over 6 months, that I'm a bad mom for not doing it even longer. I don't think I deserve to feel that way, especially since both my children were born by c/s, both unecessary (failed inductions). I cry watching BOBB...I wish I could feel that way!!! Next time will be different tho, I'm planning a homebirth with midwife and doula. I'm only 2 miles from the nearest VBAC friendly hospital, so if anything goes wrong, I'm close to good care. Thanks again for posting this!
I completely agree with you and your post is refreshing to see! I chose to formula feed my baby for personal reasons and so often I felt horrible by other moms who kept pushing "breast is best" - well not always! What's funny is how healthy and happy my baby is. He is 20 months now, but was sleeping through the night by 6 weeks, and has only had 2 major sicknesses since he's been born. Not only that but I personally loved knowing exactly how much he was getting and having my husband help at feedings. I really respect women's choices and never really vocalize my choice because it's usually the unpopular one. I just would ask that people think 1st before they criticize a choice a mom makes. Thanks for listening! :-)
Katie
well said, my friend! there is so much pressure to do what everyone else thinks you should do.. i believe as long as everyone does the best they can.. they are doing the best they can.. for their own health, and their babies.. a friend had tried supplementing with goat's milk and rice milk to their 2 month old.. i had to disimpact the poor baby.. i'm sure formula would've been better for him.. all around.
thank you for bringing another educated view to the forum.
Hi Jen,
This is Jennifer Ritchie from Milkalicious. Thank you so much for your post. In order for us to grow and learn, we need to all share our experiences, and hopefully I can help.

First, I would like to address the Thrush issue. As a breastfeeding mom that has had thrush, I can sympathize with your frustration. It is very hard to get rid of, and some of the treatments we are being prescribed simply do not work. Thrush can be transferred back and forth, and unless both mom and baby are treated effectively, it will be impossible to get rid of. Now let's talk about the treatment you were prescribed. Was your son treated with Nystatin? If so, it only works 30% of the time, and should be used as the first course of treatment only. Based on your history, you and your son need to be put on Diflucan, at the same time, to kill the yeast for good. You should be on a 400mg-loading dose, followed by two 100mg doses per day until you are symptom free for 1 week. That usually is a 3-week dose. Your son should be 6 mg/kg on the first day, followed by 3 mg/kg once daily for 2 weeks. I would also like you to boil anything that comes in contact with your nipples or your son's mouth for 5 minutes a day for 1 week. This includes bottle nipples, pacifiers, and pump parts.

I am so sorry your OBGYN and your Pediatrician have not been more helpful; Thrush is easy to treat if done correctly. If you follow the above treatment plan, you should be pain free and thrush free in a short period of time. Be sure to continue on the medications even after you are symptom fee, because you do not want a relapse. In addition, you may need to INSIST your son be put on this medication. Please do so; you do not want to quit breastfeeding because of something that can be cured very easily.

Now I would like to address the comment in the movie. The mom did in fact make that comment about supplementation being dangerous, "because it can affect your milk supply". That is a very true statement, and unfortunately mom's do not realize how "just one bottle" can effect breastfeeding. Formula is an excellent tool, and can be life saving, as it was in your son's case. Your supplementation was medically indicated, and you should not for one single second feel guilty about that. The fact that you continued to breastfeed after that traumatic experience is AMAZING.

Thank you for voicing your frustration, and as a sisterhood, we need to stick together during tough times. If you need me, email me anytime at jen@milkalicious.org, or call me at 949-831-6455.

Best Regards,
Jennifer
May I humbly offer a suggestion? There is a website dedicated to situations where moms who can't feed their babies their own breast milk can get donor milk for free or for the cost of shipping it's Milkshare.org
I also have combated systemic yeast bacteria...very painful and difficult to say the least. Have you tried the candida diet? It did wonders from me but it was very hard work.
Just as there is no one "right way" for everyone to give birth, or parent for that matter, there is no one and only "right way" to feed a baby. Breastfeeding is of course superior to formula only, but there are times formula is apropriate, especialy in conjunction with breastfeeding.
With my first baby I was determined to only breastfeed, and I did, but in the long run it turned out to NOT be what was best for me or my baby. My son son nursed constantly around the clock. He was fussy and not gaining as quickly as my ped. would have liked. I slept in blocks of 20minutes - 2hrs at most for the first 8 weeks. Had I been able to get more sleep, I think my milk supply would have been much better.
When my second baby came I chose to have my husband do only one feeding at night with formula. This helped us by allowing me to sleep during the feeding, and also his belly was full longer (formula takes longer to digest) so I could seep that much longer untill he awoke to feed.
I was a far better mother geting some rest, and I had a much better milk supply. After the first six weeks I was strictly nursing.
Formula is not evil, but it does need to be used with good judgement. As mothers we need to support and educate each other, but when our oppinons differ, we should do so respectfully.
I did end up nursing my babies (both of them) untill they were about 2years old.
Thank you everyone so much for all your responses! It is great to hear other opinions, suggestions and experiences, and i welcome them all. I am thinking there is more to my son's thrush issue than just that... his immune system needs to be strenghtened, and I'm suspecting that an additional food allergy (which he has several of) is the root cause of the problem.

Jen - thanks for the advice, as well as for clarifying the reason the mother in your film made her statement regarding the potential dangers of supplementing with formula while breastfeeding. I think we need to share the education behind our choices so that we can help other moms and future moms make theirs.

Thanks again everyone, and enjoy your weekend!
For the thrush, perhaps you have already done this...a candida cleanse program. Go to a N.D. or find out more on line, or through your natural health community. I also would suggest a parasite cleanse, because candida loves to breed in a weakened enviornment. Enzymes in high doses in between and with meals for a few weeks while on the parasite and candida herbs, and then a week of normal collidial silver doses, and a bulb or raw garlic mashed in oil with rice or toast can kill parasites and candida. I know that thrush can be stubborn, and give you my sympathy. I also sugest asking the N.D. what kind of probiotics you should be one, swithcing can be helpful. Of course eliminating certain foods from the diet is also helpful.

I applaud you for doing all you could to be a breastfeeding mom. Please do not think that anyone would look down on you! There are many women who give formula from day one because of their vanity. We need to put more effort into embracing each other and getting the info out there.
Thank you for posting your beautiful breast feeding story. I so agree with you, there really are times when a mom has to resort to formula. Her baby can still be very healthy and develop into a lovely toddler and then a small child.
I was one of the moms who simply did not have enough breastmilk. After pumping round the clock, breastfeeding almost constantly and taking EVERY supplement and Domperidone, there was still not enough milk for my little one to gain even an ounce in 4 weeks. It broke my heart to give her formula. Using lactaid device instead of the bottle made it better enough that we just made it though... she nursed for 23 month.
The one very good outcome of the whole nursing problem, however, was that I started really studying infant and toddler nutrition. Being obsessively upset over giving my angel formula, I found a great recipe to make a homemade formula, and she immediately blossomed on that formula. Making her formula every evening, instead of being a chore, became my way of handling the pain of formula supplementation, and made me feel like I was still doing my best for her.
I wish all the moms out there who are struggling and have to formula feed to keep strong and always remember that this stage too will pass. Never let anyone judge you by the bottle!
I feel your pain!
I struggled with mastitis for 4 months after my son was born. One day I was fine, the next I couldn't get out of bed and had 104 fever. I got SO SICK! No matter how much massaging and rounds of antibiotics I did, it just kept coming back. The pain of cracked and bleeding nipples is unbearable to even think about. I will NEVER forget that pain. It was so hard to continue to nurse him while crying my eyes out thinking,, "I can't do this anymore."
I don't know how I did it! He is now 11 months old, and we are still breastfeeding, so I just wanted to offer you some encouragment! Whatever choice you make for your child, is exactly that, your choice. Just know that when you think you can't do it anymore...you can!
You are already an awesome mom for doing all you have done! Most moms would have given up ages ago, so if anyone has the nerve to criticize you for your choices, they are wrong!
Best of luck to you and your baby!!!
Thank you for posting this!

My daughter (now 15 months) was/is formula fed, mostly due to my traumatic experiences at her birth (my body and mind had completely shut down from the mix of medications, basically), but also due to lack of milk-producing tissues (which the hospital's lactation consultant actually told me).

She also ended up with elevated bilirubin levels, and had to stay in the hospital (under the lights) for a few days after me (the most traumatic of all my experiences, hands down, was coming home without her), because of the insistance that I breastfeed, even after it became evident that it wasn't going to work. As soon as she'd cycled some formula through her body, she was fine.

I've been harshly judged for being a formula Mommy - people either make assumptions about the reasons, or think the ones I give are untrue, exaggerated, etc.

It is very refreshing and comforting to read a post like yours.

Thank you again,
Patricia

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