Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If finally happened.... I was offered... formula

In my 29 months of being a nursing mother I have considered myself to be one of the fortunate ones. Never had anyone nay-saying my breastfeeding relationship (family, friends, or otherwise) and never had any serious breastfeeding issues.

Early February I needed to have a pre-surgery physical. It was at this physical that I mentioned my baby would not take any bottles and I was worried about her being hungry while I was away from her during surgery. The nurse practitioner admitted straight up that she had no idea what I could do, so she grabbed the pediatric nurse figuring that she would have an answer for me. Then it happened.... the nurse offered me free samples of formula. After picking my jaw up off of the floor I said I had gallons of pumped milk, having something to give her wasn't the problem... it's that she doesn't like a bottle.

Baby Formula from Similac

Now, in her defense, she did seem extremely wary about offering it. And who knows, maybe am exclusively straight breastfed baby would take formula from a bottle. BUT... would it do more harm than good? I'd have to say yes. It is a slippery slope.

Let's say we gave Chicklett a bottle of formula and she took it. Now we have a door open for any opportunity where in the past we would have relied on timing of naps and speed of my errands that we could now do formula instead. Chicklett nurses a little less, but it's not all that noticeable. Then mama gets a cold or illness of some kind and out of sheer exhaustion, I have Rooster give extra formula bottles I can stay in bed longer. Then without warning teething or mastitis happens... the list of foibles goes on and on. See how easily it can all fall apart?

But, lucky for myself and Chicklett, I scoffed at the formula suggestion and stuck with my original plan of using a supplemental nursing system (SNS). Really the point in me asking the nurse advice about breastfeeding was the hopes that she would offer me a SNS to take home and try. At the time I was not sure if the one I had ordered would make it in time, or if it had extra tubing for more than one use so we'd be able to test it out.

Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again... if you truly needed formula I am glad it is available to us. But, we could probably all agree that it is something that is overly offered and used in situations that do more harm than good. If I had been anyone other than myself, this could have introduced a huge kink in my nursing relationship and prematurely ended everything.

I tell these stories because I hope it will get the next mom to think twice if she is offered formula too. Brainstorm with your breastfeeding supportive friends and I guarantee you that formula will almost always be one of the last solutions offered up. When brainstorming possible ways to get Chicklett to drink breastmilk for the three hours I'm away from her... just look at this long list I came up with when talking to girlfriends... yet the two nurses I spoke with that day offered none of this information:

Different bottles
Different nipples
Spoon feed
Supplemental Nursing System
Medicine Dropper
Sippy Cups
Cup feed
Have a friend breastfeed her
Keep our fingers crossed for 3 hours

See what I mean? LOTS of completely plausible solutions. Just gotta think outside the box sometimes.


  1. Oooh...dirty secret: E has had formula. I was rushed to the ER when he was 6 weeks old and admitted for an overnight stay. I had two bottles at home and was able to pump one more before I started getting drugs. There was some confusion as to whether the drugs I was getting were safe for BF and the hospital's lactation consultant told me they weren't (note I was on a pain high and couldn't do anything myself) so I ended up pumping and dumping while I was there. Meanwhile, my poor baby burned through his BM and ended up getting ? formula bottles (no clue how many since I wasn't there). When I got home I threw the can of formula away - I'm glad we had it to put something in his tummy, but we don't need it for our regular lives.

  2. ::GASP!!:: Eh, well, ya did what you had to. :) I know I wouldn't have had an emergency supply at 6 weeks for anything like that!

  3. we do the best we can with what we have, no? no scorn from this exclusively breastfeeding mother.

  4. Heck it happens! My oldest was given 2 formula bottles a day for the first 2 months..... (I pumped those feedings) and then we stopped and went to 2 bm bottles instead. She had horrible reflux and those two bottles a day were given since those were her worst feedings due to pain. Th bottle helped and we did formula only until I had a supply built up to switch to bm. I am not against formula........ Just don't think it should be the first option.

  5. Exactly - not the first and not the only. :)