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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It was great to read everyone's stories, thank you for sharing.

I was able to breastfeed both my children easily, though I never took it for granted. I did however, try to do a lot of research and line up people to be there to help me so I could maximize my chances of being successful.

POST PARTUM DOULA is someone who will come to your house right away and should be able to identify if your baby is latching properly-- even with my second child I wasn't sure what a proper latch felt like at the beginning.

SUPPLIES I had frozen peas in the freezer, good nursing bras, breast feeding pillows, etc. Silly in some ways, but having them on hand meant less discomfort.

KNOWLEDGE of SINGLE SIDE FEEDING this is one of those things I think might be the holy grail... nursing on ONE breast for each feed, allowing the breast to produce foremilk, transition milk, and hind milk-- and give your baby a complete balanced meal. One breast at each feed. Many people, pediatricians, and me, think that this is one of the things that prevents overfeeding and spitting up, tummy discomfort in the baby, etc.

I always think the most satisfying thing for a mother is to know that she gave it her best, educated, try-- and if that results in formula or breastmilk, you know it's a real result, that you can be proud of.


www.askyourfriendkira.com
I'm so glad people are still replying to this post. It is such an important one, and the sad thing is, I almost did not post it because of my position on and active support for natural mom and baby. But, I agree with Kira that giving your best, educated try (and try, and try, and try... as in my case) is something all moms should have the right to be proud of, even if the end result is something less than her first choice.

I was lucky enough to have the support of my mother, a very experienced lactation consultant, by my side during this entire experience (and yes; single side feeding should be taught to EVERY new mom), as well as my education and knowledge of Chinese medicine and nutrition; but even with all that, I still could not bear to continue to breastfeed. Even to this day, I hate to say it, the thought of breastfeeding makes me sick to my stomach. The desire is there (I absolutely loved the connection and act of breastfeeding my boys), should I ever have another child, but the physical, mental, and emotional memories of the pain still haunt me and sends shivers through my body.

These issues are not to be taken lightly, just as the choice to give up breastfeeding should not be either. I know of several therapies I could go through to support myself should I ever breastfeed again that would most likely help with these residual issues and feelings. I wish all mothers going through similar situations the best of luck, health, and strength. Do everything you can to continue to breastfeed, and be sure to research all your options. But, if none of those options work, you are ultimately the one who needs to make the BEST decision for your baby AND yourself.
Thank you for posting your storie(s). We need to remember there ARE exceptions (albeit very rare) and we shouldn't judge each other as mothers.
I am one of those moms who never had a problem breastfeeding and had 3 homebirths. I had to fight the urge to be judgemental at times because I spent SO much time researching and preparing my body for the best possible outcome for birth and breatsfeeding. Honestly, when i see other women who havent tried everything (or claim their body just doesnt work right) it really irked me, because I know different and worked so hard for myself and family. Though I realize now- FOR ME,I had support and encouragement from my husband and family/friends as well as a built in natural parenting community (a local homebirthers group formed by our midwife) to go to for anything. We need more of these kinds of groups locally, so that when women run into problems it isn't a struggle to find answers or support. LOVE this forum for just that.
I think the other problem i have, is that ever since the introduction of formula in this country it has been SHOVED down our throats (or rather that of our children)so aggressively and we have so much work to do to recover from that- that we need to use strong language like "dangerous" for people to start listening.. The sexualiaztion of our breasts and the push for the detachment from the birth experience is the norm in this country- WE as natural birthers are the exception. It is still rare that women breatsfeed past a year (or even 6 months) in this country. I feel sympathetic for those women who *are* the exception, certainly wouldnt want you to feel guilty or bad. Just know we are in a battle trying to change the birth/breatsfeeding culture in this country and if you truly did all you could, then you *are* with us in this fight, no matter if you don't fit the ideal model of beastfeeding/birth. C-sections are there for emergencies and I am very grateful for that! Formula is there for those small percent who truly can't breastfeed and I am grateful for that. If you have been caught in a situation that was not in your control please do not feel guilty! we are fighting for change so others will not have to go through the same thing. YOU are the reason we want to change the viewpoints on birth and breastfeeding in this country. I am saddened that so many feel attcked or bad about their outcome of birth or breastfeeding. But as you can see in these posts know one faults you-support is what we as women need to be successful and whatver that means to you.
Hi DoulaChandra,

Thanks for your reply! I just wanted to say that I am working on building more local support groups for natural fertility, pregnancy, birth and babies. We are starting here in San Diego, and hoping to spread across the country. If you are interested in learning more, check out the Your Natural Baby SD blog on my website http://www.NaturalBabyPros.com/blog and our Launch Event blog. We would love for you to join us!

Our goal is to create an online 'hub' of information with articles, a directory, and a forum with experts in multiple health fields; to build local communities that offer more personal support for both practitioners and mothers/families needing more information for or help with preconception through postpartum and baby care, and to connect these families with thier local practitioners and businesses; and lastly to support the practitioners themselves by supporting business tips and marketing support, since a stronger business = a stronger presence in the community = better for local families, the profession and community overall.

I agree that we are fighting a battle, and I find myself in the middle of it with the project I have been working on. But because of my personal experiences, I have a strong desire to also remain non-judgemental and supportive by offering up as much information and education as I possibly can... and inviting each practitioner to provide their information as well.
hi jen,
wow, what a challenging time. I hope this message isn't coming too late...you mentioned it was too expensive to buy breast milk. I know we have a community here in miami that when a mom is having trouble nursing, or having a problem such as yours the moms in the community all pull together and pump extra milk for that mom. It is not a long term solution but may give you enough time to continue pumping and healing with the natural remedies you are using.

I know it is extremely easy for thrush to be passed back and forth from mom and baby, making the healing process almost impossible.

maybe you can send an out reach letter to your community and ask for their help! You will probably be extremely surprised on how many moms are excited and willing to help!

Good Luck

Kim
Nurturing Happier Healthier Babies
Thanks for the suggestion Kim; and I do wish it had come earlier (the baby is now 10 months older!) There were additional issues that would have kept me from getting donor milk from just anyone; both my sons are allergic to dairy and soy, and my second chocolate... if I ate any of these in my diet while breastfeeding, they would get symptoms such as skin rash, tummy upset, and blood in the stools. I would have been very wary of asking anyone else to donate milk without having as strict a diet as I had to have while breastfeeding...

Do you know if any of the milk donor programs screen for these dietary restrictions? Do you have any recommendations regarding this? I would love to know what the options are, if not for myself, for others in similar positions, and to share on my website.

Thanks so much for your response; hope you are doing well! I'd love to catch up sometime soon,
Jen
hi Jen
Yeah I guess this was a little late:)
What a bummer. My son is sensitive to dairy and gluten so i know what you mean! We have one friend who eats just like us and happen to have a baby right before us. We always joked, if something ever happened to me and i couldn't breastfeed, she would donate some of her milk.

I think most breast milk donation places pasteurize the milk :(

Sorry I can't be more helpful
and glad you are so busy!
Kim
My daughter is almost 5 and I carry a lot of guilt over formula feeding her.

Shortly after my husband and I got married I had breast reduction surgery. This was a choice I made, knowing "most" of the potential consequences. When I was a child I was molested, and as a teen sexually harassed/abused - which caused major issues for me. So much so that I was 7 months into my pregnancy before I felt okay about sharing my body with my (much wanted) baby. It was incredibly hard to reconcile feelings of someone taking what they wanted/needed from you without your consent. Maybe that sounds funny but I'm not sure how else to describe it.

In any case I always felt strongly about not wanting to BF. My breasts were mine, I reclaimed them, and felt that they were for no-one else. During my pregnancy I began to feel so much differently. I did lots of reading about breastfeeding and BFAR. Although it didn't look promising I wanted to give it a 100% try. I took herbs, I rented a hospital-grade pump and pumped after each feeding, we got thrush, my nipples were chewed and looked like they were about to fall off. I could pump all day and the combined total would be less than 1/2 an ounce for a full-day's pumping.

Although I could initially produce milk, I couldn't get it out, I had only a couple functional ducts as they had all been severed during the surgery. At 5 1/2 weeks my supply dropped to nothing (from my research this was about the time where milk production went from hormonally based to supply and demand production). So similarily to my ducts having been severed so too were the nerves in my breasts so my body could not register the "demand". I couldn't afford to purchase breastmilk and there are no milk banks locally so my only option was to formula feed her. I always tried to make her feeding sessions as intimate and connected as possible, it was all I could do.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I could un-do the surgery. For so many reasons, I wish I had gone for therapy at that time (rather than later) to deal with my feelings. I wish I could have given my daughter the start she deserved. But, I did the best I could at the time. My hope is that if we have a chance to have another baby more nerves will have regenerated (they say it can get a little better with each subsequent baby).

So while I would activate 100% for breastfeeding I don't think that feeling of selfishness and guilt will ever go away.

Thank you for bringing up this subject, it is a sensitive one for so many of us.

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