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When our kids were born, my goal was to breastfeed them. I have been able to breastfeed all four of our children, for some amount of time.
Nonetheless, there are times when we cannot breastfeed or when we choose not to breastfeed. I struggled with the decision to not give our child 100% breastmilk, but the decision was not mine to make.
Like so many Moms, sometimes we don’t get a choice, or if we do, we do what is best for our family, not what the experts say is best. It is a reality that many of us have to face.
I want to give you encouragment that if you can’t breastfeed, there are alternatives and you will still have a healthy child!
With our first son, it took him three months to get the hang of it. I pumped and bottled fed him, but once he was able to nurse at three months, I was able to stop bottle feeding him (he never took a bottle again, even when we wanted him to). He nursed until he was one. (Here is a picture of him drinking his bottle of expressed milk, while he was still brand new and in the hospital. This was the morning after our very long labor. He was premature, so they tried to stop the labor, but he insisted on coming and he is now seven and doing great!)
With our second son, he was born with low blood sugar, so I had to supplement formula, from day one, to keep his blood sugar regulated. When he was able to wean from formula, I exclusively pumped. We kept this up until around 8 months, at which point I had enough milk frozen that I could just give him that milk and no longer pump. I had to supplement towards one year with formula.
With our third son, I breastfed him for a year, without any issues. He was our best nurser and best sleeper!
With our fourth child, our daughter, I decided to exclusviely pump for her. I would pump in the morning, at nap time and again at night. I would average 30-35 ounces a day, even after cutting back to two pumping sessions.
I fed her with breastmilk, until she was one.
ALTERNATIVES TO BREASTFEEDING:
1- Nipple Shield – this is really easy to use, but trust me that it puts you in a bind when you are sitting in a pediatritions office or the store and your child is hungry and you realize that you left it at home. Our son cried for over an hour, unable to nurse without it, at one month old (this was our child that eventually latched on at 3 months, without a shield)
2- PUMP & BOTTLE FEED:
If you make enough milk with pumping, this is a good alternative. If you don’t make enough, I would talk to a lactation consulatant, as they can help you with the right herbs and vitamins to increase your supply. I had an oversupply, which sounds like a good thing, but it is just as much a problem as an undersuppy. It made it hard for our children to nurse.
I made the choice to pump our last baby out of convience. I knew that I would be running around with the three older kids and I am not comfortable breastfeeding in public, try as I might.
I had a large oversupply with each baby, so this was an easy solution for me. I was able to pump and bottle feed two out of our four kids. I built up my supply by pumping often for the first few weeks and then I was able to cut down to three sessions and then two and then one session (morning & night) for the last few months. There was a time, around 7 months, both times, when I had to increase my supply again with additional pumping sessions.
PUMP & SYRING FEED:
We had to do this with one of our children, for a little while. It is very hard and time consuming, but it was worth it to us.
Many people donate their milk for this reason, to help those that cannot breast feed. You can find online milk banks or local milk banks by searching online.
This is an alternative that we choose when our second son was born. It was life-changing, as it literally provided the nutrients that he needed immediately, to raise his blood sugar.
I have many friends that strickly formula fed, for a variety of reasons, and they all have healthy children. I have many friends that breastfed, and they have healthy children. To each their own. You have to do what works for your family.
Finding a formula for your child is hard, because of the huge variety of options! I found that the Sam’s Club formula worked best for our children. We used the SIMPLY RIGHT ™ infant formula, (Baby Care Sensitivity®.) I needed a formula that was Clinically proven to support growth and development, now with Lutein for brain and eye health. This was a must for me!
Here is a video about the formula that we used, if you are facing this decision.
In the end, you must remember that no matter what you decide to do, the most important thing is that your child is well cared for, loved, and being fed. Do what you need to do to take care of your sweet, precious baby!