Once formula is given, it does not mean game over for breastfeeding.
If you have looked at any of our blog posts or social media pages, you may have guessed we are pro-breastfeeding. No, we don't go around chanting "Breast is Best", but we do promote its benefits for both mom and baby. It protects against a variety of short and long term illnesses for the baby as well as decreasing risks for certain types of cancer in mothers. It also promotes bonding between mom and baby.
Breastmilk contents are so unique, they cannot be copied and made into infant formula. It provides immunities and micro/macro nutrients specific to the mother/baby dyad. It's really a win-win for both mother and baby.
We also understand that for many women, breastfeeding is not easy. They face possible road blocks such as preterm infants staying in the NICU, minimal to no maternity leave that creates difficulty with milk supply, lack of supporting family, lack of support from health care providers, poor latches that leave them in pain with no one to turn to, etc. These are only a FEW instances of many that would lead to possible use of formula.
After formula supplementation, women often feel discouraged, like they failed. But Mama, that is not the case at all. If you had to give formula for the first couple days, but then were able to breastfeed, you succeeded. If you were never able to breastfeed but pumped and gave them breastmilk anyway, you succeeded. If you were able to give your baby any breastmilk you succeeded. If you did what you could, you succeeded, and that is enough to make you the best mom in the world.
We want to say that if there is or was a time during your breastfeeding journey where you had to or will have to supplement with formula, that is okay. That does not mean you are done breastfeeding if you still want to. You were courageous enough to make a decision that you may have not wanted to make to give your baby nourishment even if it wasn't your milk. Again, this supplementation isn't game over. On the contrary, its just a little break that you need to get to the next steps. Many women have given infant formula for a couple of days, like we said, to get over a rough patch or hump in their journey, but if willing, most are able to keep on breastfeeding either by themselves or with a little help from a lactation specialist. There is no shame in this, in fact, it shows how strong you are that you chose to keep going even when times got tough.
At Mamas Maternal Health, we know it can be difficult. If no women ever had issues breastfeeding there would be no such thing as a lactation specialist. BUT it's normal!
What frustrates us the most is that many women are unsupported during this time and that is why they end up giving up breastfeeding. That is why we became a company-- to support mamas and show them just how powerful and capable they are. Just because the healthcare system can be flawed doesn't mean your care and support has to be. To learn more about how Mamas Maternal Health is maternal and infant healthcare reimagined, check out our website and join us today!
Until next time!
Mikayla and Cassie
Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors
Reference: The Lactation Counselor Training Course Notebook (2018)., Healthy Children Project, Center for Breastfeeding
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