Different take on Supplementing

Posted by  | Thursday, February 4, 2010  at 3:06 PM  
First of all, I started to post this as a comment - but decided to turn it into a post. I was writing in response to Krista's post, Effects of Supplementing. You can see my previous breastfeeding posts here and here. In short, my first experience was with my 32 week preemie and we encountered many bumps in the road. My second had a few bumps as well thanks to my health, but we maintained a strong nursing relationship from the beginning...despite two tiny supplements. :) That's why I'm posting now...

I have to admit that I was flat out confused by the "artificial baby milk" term! I thought it was some new version of formula renamed to make it more appealing to BFing Moms. Haha!

But I did want to add my thoughts on Krista's post. First of all, I think that breastfeeding for a year or more is the ideal situation for all babies. (Many would argue longer even!) Support is key and the support of family, friends, nurses and LCs can make or break a Mom's desire/motivation to breastfeed.

That said, I can totally see a case for encouraging breastfeeding by saying that it is ok for Mom to supplement on occasion. I know that seems counterproductive to many - but I see it like this. If Mom is discouraged completely from supplementing - many Moms will see it as an all or nothing situation. Isn't it better for baby to get even a few weeks of breastmilk versus no breastmilk at all?

I am specifically thinking of Mom's with little support at home, working Moms and Moms that are struggling with other illnesses (including PPD).

I was SO determined with my 2nd to have a smooth breastfeeding course. I did not have a smooth course with Will after struggling through his prematurity, nipple confusion, weight gain issues, reflux, low milk supply b/c I worked, etc. Although we did successfully work through each of those issues and he got breastmilk in a bottle or nursed until 11 months.

When my 2nd came along, I had never nursed from day 1. (Pumped from day 2 with son - too sick to do it earlier.) I had no idea how difficult it can be to have a screaming baby, sore nipples and no milk to speak of yet. I was set on breastfeeding and after a brief moment of turmoil, decided to offer her a tiny (1oz) formula supplement via syringe in the hospital. That helped her settle just long enough to give my nipples a break. I think we ended up doing this (1oz via syringe) one more time at home. My milk came in GREAT and we had no trouble nursing from there on out. Even through MANY health troubles. She did end up having formula for a few days around one month of age thanks to unexpected gallbladder surgery that left me in the hospital for 4 days. Still, she returned to nursing just fine and eventually refused a bottle never to take one successfully again after that brief time!

All that to say that while I am 100% for exclusive breastfeeding and have breastfed my children to 11 months and 14 months (which many of my friends think is NUTS) - I am thankful for formula in those two circumstances. I would also like to suggest that while breastfeeding education/support could be improved in our country - there is a fine line between discouraging formula and maybe ultimately discouraging breastfeeding.


Rachael Davis said...

I think this is very insightful....thanks for sharing, Christina.

Keri said...

Thanks so much for writing this Christina. Currently we are going through a trial with our daughter being low weight and me having low supply. I was told by the ped to completely switch her over to formula and I do not want to do that but I am okay with supplementing a bit in an effort to get her weight up so she doesn't have to be hospitalized. Anyways... I just wanted to say thanks for your post. The last few posts have been a bit discouraging to me and this one made it all better.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this... so many times lately it seems that breastfeeding is presented as "all or nothing" like you said, and it makes me sad because BFing is so great and it's NOT A SIN to supplement sometimes.

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