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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Advice from a new mom: baby formula

One thing I'd never considered during my pregnancy was baby formula. My plans for W included exclusively breastfeeding and pumping at work. No where in my mind did I think about baby formula. A box arrived on my door step from Similac with samples and coupons and I did stash it all away in a cabinet. Although I was sure I wouldn't need it, I figured it might be good to have a little in the house just in case.

Fast forward to the end of the W's first week as he continued to lose weight and grow more and more jaundice, something had to be done. I made a visit to a local lactation consultant (which was worth every penny) and began pumping after I nursed and offering him the pumped milk in a bottle after he nursed. So began a very exhausting and emotional cycle. Not wanting to cause nipple confusion, I tried an SNS to feed him and used a syringe to feed him. In the beginning, I was determined to feed my baby on my own and while my family watched on in support, I tried to balance everything.

A few days later when the situation hadn't improved, my LC suggested that we began supplementing with some formula. Although this is what I wanted her to say as I was growing more and more concerned with his jaundice and how lethargic he was, I admit that I cried. It was the first thing that wasn't going how I planned. My labor and delivery had gone just as I planned and cloth diapering was working well even through the meconium. Breastfeeding was not and never had I considered the possibility.

We picked up some concentrated Similac liquid and added the formula supplementation to the cycle. Using the formula was not anything I took lightly, but I read some important advice on a message board that summed up the situation. I had to focus on the fact that my son needed to eat and not on my emotional need to breastfeed. This was the start of more acceptance on my part even if I felt my heart break a little with each drop of formula we gave him.

Using formula allowed me to relax a bit and let J and my mom begin to give him bottles. The breastfeeding issues had nothing to do with nipple confusion. It was a combination of W having a weak suck and low supply issues on my part. Using a bottle allowed J to get more involved which I believe was a good thing as well. I continued to try and nurse then pump while W had a bottle.

Over the weeks W's frustration at the breast grew. He was happy through the first let down but then got very upset when waiting for another let down. The entire situation was extremely stressful and led to tears from both of us. Eventually I decided that pumping and bottle feeding might be the best approach for us. As I've read many times on various message boards I frequent: happy mommy = happy baby.

I continued to suffer from a low supply no matter how many times I pumped, no matter how long I double pumped, and no matter how many power pumping sessions I attempted. I tried Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Mother's Milk Tea, More Milk Plus, eating a ton of oatmeal, and drinking enough water to float a boat. Eventually I managed to pump 12-13 ounces each day. This was providing about 40% of W's daily intake.

As he gained weight, I felt more and more relieved. At 11 weeks, he weighed in around 15.5 pounds so we have definitely conquered any weight issues. In anticipation of my return to work, I'm only pumping twice a day. I pump about 8 ounces a day which provides two 4 ounce bottles for him. I am hoping my supply will stick around so I can at least provide him with this, but if it doesn't I'm a firm believer in the fact that he has to eat and that happy mommy = happy baby = happy family.

After that long story, I'll get to my point! One piece of advice I have for all new moms is to sign up on the formula websites just in case. The coupons and checks I have received from the companies have been invaluable. After using the concentrated liquid Similac for awhile we switched to the powder sample we had. Ultimately, we switched to Good Start because they send me the most formula checks and because W seems to do well on it. I signed up for Good Start, Similac, and Enfamil. I have received checks and coupons for Good Start, samples and checks for Similac, but nothing from Enfamil so far. It takes a few weeks to begin receiving checks, so I recommend signing up early! I'm all about being prepared and this was one area where I could have done a lot more!

Good Start: Join the Gerber Generation!
Similac: StrongMoms
Enfamil: Enfamil Family Beginnings


  1. Hi, I'm following you back on GFC and Twitter. I will definitely check out your FB page too!

    I'm sorry to hear that you had low milk supply and trouble with breastfeeding. Sometimes, you just have to supplement to make sure that your baby is getting everything he needs to eat. But at least you tried to breastfeed. That's better than moms just not trying at all. Some breast milk is better than none at all :-)

    This was a great post, and I hope that you give comfort for other moms!
    Hip Chick's Guide to PMS, Pregnancy, and Babies

  2. I had a similar thing happen with my first child. She had very serious jaundice and had to be hospitalized in the bili-bed. My milk hadn't come in yet and the Pediatrician was so rude. She said (right in front of me) "We'll let daddy feed you since Mommy can't". I sat there and cried and she didn't even apologize.

    I've ended up nursing all three of my children, supplementing when I needed to. I love what you wrote about your child's need to eat and your emotional need to breastfeed. So true!

    Anyway, love the blog and this post! I'm following you back on GFC and twitter. Have a great night!


  3. Hey there!

    Found you on "Major Love of Film"

    Stop by my blog if you have a chance:

    I breastfed all of my kids until around the 9 month mark, then they all switched to Good Start. We had 0 problems with it. It was also less expensive than the other brands. I found out why that is and can tell you if you're interested (political intrigue involved!). I also recommend signing up for coupons early. Also, Good Start was giving away great backpack diaper bags when I had my youngest, which was great because we had 0 money for baby gear due to my being on bedrest for 9 weeks.


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