As much as I’d love to be a super-mommy and breastfeed exclusively until my child turns two, it’s ok that I’m not. I did the natural birth, fed my baby breastmilk for three months straight, and allowed life to interfere and alter the course slightly. What am I talking about? Adding formula to my baby’s diet, of course.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned being a first-time mom, it is that a lot of contention exists around breastfeeding versus feeding your baby formula. Without a doubt, there are numerous benefits to breastfeeding. In fact, I’ll list them below:
- Nutritional Content: Breast milk provides optimal nutrition for infants, containing essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary for healthy growth and development. [Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk,” Pediatrics, 2012]
- Immunological Protection: Breast milk contains antibodies and immune factors that help protect infants from infections and illnesses, reducing the risk of respiratory, gastrointestinal, and other infections. [Source: Hanson LA, “Human milk and host defense: immediate and long-term effects,” Acta Paediatr, 1999]
- Cognitive Development: Breastfeeding has been associated with potential cognitive and developmental benefits, including improved IQ scores and cognitive function in later life. [Source: Horta BL, et al., “Breastfeeding and intelligence: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” Acta Paediatr, 2015]
- Digestive Health: Breast milk is easily digestible and helps prevent gastrointestinal issues, such as colic and constipation, in infants. [Source: Lucas A, et al., “Breast milk and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born preterm,” Lancet, 1992]
- Reduced Allergy and Asthma Risk: Breastfeeding may contribute to a reduced risk of allergies and asthma in children. [Source: Lodge CJ, et al., “Breastfeeding and asthma and allergies: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” Acta Paediatr, 2015]
- Cardiovascular Health: Breastfed infants may have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases later in life due to potential positive effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels. [Source: Owen CG, et al., “Infant feeding and blood cholesterol: a study in adolescents and a systematic review,” Pediatrics, 2002]
- Maternal Health: Breastfeeding offers postpartum benefits to mothers, including reduced risk of postpartum bleeding, faster postpartum weight loss, and reduced risk of certain cancers (e.g., breast and ovarian cancers). [Source: Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer, “Breast cancer and breastfeeding: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50302 women with breast cancer and 96973 women without the disease,” Lancet, 2002]
- Bonding and Emotional Connection: Breastfeeding fosters a strong emotional bond between the mother and the infant, promoting a sense of security and closeness.
- Convenience and Cost-Effectiveness: Breastfeeding is convenient, always available, and cost-effective compared to formula feeding.
- Environmental Benefits: Breastfeeding is environmentally friendly, as it produces no waste or pollution associated with formula manufacturing, packaging, and transportation.
What cannot be disputed is that women (no, I will not be referring to biological females as “lactating persons” – get out of here with that) will have unique experiences with their bodies and their babies. There is no “one size fits all” approach. Some women will lactate excessively, others will struggle to produce milk at all. It’s all OKAY. Ultimately, do what feels right for you, your baby, and your family. This post is merely to share my experience and offer a formula recommendation that has worked for our little guy.
The first three months
We were relatively lucky that my son, Leon, was born hungry. Minutes after birth, he easily latched onto my breast. I joked that if he were a puppy, he’d be one of the biggest and hungriest – you know, the one who always finds the teat.
His voracious appetite only increased. By month two, he cleaned out the stores of breastmilk I had casually pumped and saved in the freezer. A few midwife consultants suggested I don’t pump until week 6. While this was probably wise to some extent (so my body didn’t over-produce), it set the tone for “not really needing to pump”. I’d use the Hakaa once or twice a day and save 4-6 oz. But, it quickly became apparent that my approach to pumping and the amount of milk I was making was simply not enough. So, I started pumping on a schedule – which worked for a bit.
I read somewhere that by eight weeks the amount of milk your baby eats will never increase. I call bulls***t. He went from eating 18-22 oz to 30 real darn quick. For weeks, I would pump before meetings and pray he didn’t run out while my husband watched him. I always had enough, but “just enough”. Leaving the house was iffy because it meant the 8-12 oz I pumped would definitely get used and I would be on a time crunch to get home.
Quick note – my baby is very, very healthy. He’s officially 101 days old and 20 lbs. So, I’m not complaining. But, I am expressing my journey thus far. He’s a hungry boy and it’s imperative to me to ensure he is nourished and well-fed.
When we were reaching the three-month threshold, I finally decided that it would be acceptable to introduce formula into his diet. It was that or oat flour to keep him fuller. I figured formula would be better on his tummy and so began scouring the internet for the healthiest goat milk formula I could find. It’s still not “perfect” (nothing will ever come close to breastmilk), but it is highly nutritious, organic, and cow dairy-free, which is ideal considering I am personally sensitive to dairy similar to many babies.
The formula I officially gave the OK to is Bubs, which you can learn more about here and below in the photos.
Check it out on Amazon here:
Our current breastfeeding journey
Because I am expected to be in meetings for hours at a time (I’m fortunate and can work from home, thankfully), my new routine is to pump in the mornings, twice during the day, and once in the evening. Leon nurses in the evenings and during the night. Sometimes, we’ll sit down for an afternoon session, as well. But for the most part, he is now on a 50/50 mix of breastmilk and the Bubs goat milk. It took a little bit of time for his system (and tastebuds) to adjust, but he now drinks the mixture without complaint and seems to be digesting it just fine.
Why goat milk versus cow milk?
Goat milk is often considered more suitable for baby consumption than cow milk due to several factors, though it’s important to note that individual preferences and tolerances can vary. Here are some reasons why goat milk is sometimes preferred for babies:
- Easier Digestibility: Goat milk contains smaller fat globules and a higher proportion of medium-chain fatty acids, making it easier for babies to digest. This can be especially beneficial for infants with sensitive digestive systems or those prone to colic.
- Similar Protein Structure: Goat milk protein is closer in structure to human milk protein compared to cow milk protein. This similarity may reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions or sensitivities in some infants.
- Lower Lactose Content: Goat milk has a slightly lower lactose content compared to cow milk. Babies who are lactose intolerant or have trouble digesting lactose may find goat milk more tolerable.
- Rich in Nutrients: Goat milk is a good source of essential nutrients, including vitamins (such as A and D), minerals (such as calcium and magnesium), and protein. These nutrients support healthy growth and development in infants.
- Reduced Allergenicity: Some babies who are allergic to cow milk protein may tolerate goat milk protein better. However, it’s important to note that cross-reactivity between cow milk and goat milk allergies can still occur, and individual responses vary.
- Less Hormones and Antibiotics: Commercial goat milk production often involves fewer hormones and antibiotics compared to some conventional cow milk production methods. This can be appealing to parents who are concerned about potential additives in their baby’s diet.
- Milder Flavor: Goat milk has a milder flavor compared to cow milk, which may make it more palatable to some babies who are transitioning from breast milk or formula.
- Despite these potential advantages, it’s crucial to consult with a pediatrician before introducing goat milk or any other alternative to breast milk or infant formula. Babies have unique nutritional needs, and professional guidance ensures that your baby’s nutritional requirements are met.
- It’s also important to remember that while goat milk may be suitable for some babies, others might still do well with properly prepared cow milk-based formula or other appropriate infant formula options. Each baby is different, and their nutritional needs and tolerances should guide the choice of feeding.
- Lastly, when considering using goat milk for infant consumption, ensure that it’s pasteurized and safe for consumption. Raw goat milk or any unpasteurized dairy product poses a risk of bacterial contamination that could be harmful to infants.
The reason I am writing this blog post
Unfortunately, mothers and babies have a price tag over their heads for many people and industries in our society. As if being exploited by hospitals wasn’t enough (quick cutting of the cord retains stem cell-rich blood which is sold, not disposed of, and foreskin from penis circumcisions are sold to be made into expensive cosmetic products), mom and baby are constantly being advertised products that won’t actually improve their well-being. So, if I can shed some non-dogmatic light on alternative options without making other moms feel like crap, I’m going to do that.
What are your thoughts? Yay or nay on formula? Did you have an exceedingly hungry baby and if so, what did you do about it?
I’d love your feedback. Thanks and God Bless!