I Have To Feed My Baby Formula ♥ And That’s OK

babyandmama

W E L L  M E A N I N G  P E O P L E

People mean well when they tell you “formula is rocket fuel”. It’s really easy to misinterpret this, I know that I did. When I got pregnant I knew nothing about breastfeeding or formula. I know that my mom breastfed me until she went back to work (about 6 months) and then she fed me formula. I figured this was the norm, just like I figured that giving birth in a hospital was the norm… so why stray? Well, I obviously learned a lot during the pregnancy and ended up going with a natural birth at home and of course that led to a strong want to exclusively breastfeed. Attachment parenting feels right to me and it’s really important to go with your instincts when it comes to your baby. During discussions with other natural birth Moms and Dads, it’s been thrown around over and over again that formula is the devil and just wrong to give to your baby. I nodded and agreed assuming that I would never need formula, I’m gonna be a breastfeeding mom. This scenario reoccured several times during my pregnancy and little did I know that every time I said it, I was slowly reinforcing the insecurities that would inevitably occur when my milk never came in.

It’s all well-meaning but I’ve learned that it’s not explained properly at all. Moms and doctors are constantly saying that formula is bad and breastfeeding is good, when what they should be saying is that breastfeeding should be your first choice, supplementing with donated milk should be your second and formula should simply be a last resort. This would really clear up a whole mess of anxiety and depression that occurred when I failed to produce my own milk for my baby. I was SO angry at my body for betraying me. I swore that every time my baby cried it was because I was letting her down (so not true). The first time we gave her formula was completely bittersweet. I was SO happy she was eating (and so was she) but so angry that it wasn’t at my breast from my supply.

M A K I N G  A  C O M E B A C K

Breastfeeding is making a comeback, did you know that!? How cool is that? Basically, for the last 50 years formula has taken over as the first choice of new parents. Formula companies have even made claims that formula is just as good if not better than breast milk (wtf). Well, we all know that this is not even kind of true. Because formula has taken over for so long and women are learning better- a lot of women preach the evils of formula. This message is meant for women who don’t know that breast feeding is a much better choice. But what about the women who do know better and can’t breastfeed for whatever reason? I mean, REALLY can’t breast feed.

Some moms have their babies, attempt breastfeeding on day one and if baby doesn’t latch, they immediately give up. This is easy because usually you’re in a hospital and you’ve got a nurse saying “we can call in the lactation specialist if you want, but I’ve got formula right here….”. Well, what are mothers who don’t know any better gonna do? First, moms make the mistake that if baby doesn’t latch and drink then the baby will starve. The truth is that baby has some reserves. Baby wont die if you dont feed him/her immediately. You have enough time to call in a lactation specialist and really work on that latch. They can usually pinpoint the reason immediately and offer solutions. Sometimes the babies introduction into the world is part of the reason why breastfeeding is hard. C-sections, however necessary can throw off this biological want to breast feed for babies, but not always. Sometimes C-sections and epidurals don’t throw anything off but the chance is much higher. Either way, it’s important you do whatever you can to encourage baby to breast feed if you’ve got the supply.

Now, sometimes you don’t get the supply. I have a hormonal imbalance called PCOS that means I probably should’ve never gotten pregnant, avoided a miscarriage and had her with no complications. It also means that my milk would not come in naturally and easily. I didn’t know I had this imbalance until after I had her. Here is my breast feeding story. I believe that after day 3-4, if that milk doesn’t come in- that’s just the beginning of the fight! First, I started pumping like a crazy woman. I rented a medela symphony hospital grade pump and used that thing every 2 hours like clockwork. At the urging of my lactation specialist I took Motherlove which includes goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle and fennel; these are all herbs used for milk promotion. I also took alfalfa and moringa. Pumping plus the herbal supplements was my first attempt at getting that milk supply in. Unfortunately, it did nothing. If these things don’t work there are prescriptions you can try too: Reglan and the compound, Domperidone.

The point is that there are a lot of things to try and they’re all worth the effort. But while you’re doing all of these things, formula is an ok supplement. It’s more than ok: we’re lucky we live in a country where the water is clean enough that we can make formula for our babies. If you’re lucky enough to have a network of caring moms (like I do here in Nashville), your second choice can be doner milk! Another mama’s milk is a great choice. From the beginning of baby making the village mothers fed all of the babies, not just their own. It’s not weird or gross. I would say just make a good judgement call: ask if she’s taking any drugs, legal or illegal.

I T ‘ S  A L L  R E L A T I V E

The hardest part, I thought, of giving baby formula was that I wanted her to have the best. I learned while I was pregnant that babies who are formula fed have more health issues and a lower IQ. I don’t want my baby to struggle in school because I couldn’t produce milk. I talked to my Dr. about this and she brought up a great point. Those tests really are relative! Moms who don’t consider breast feeding are usually uneducated women who don’t know any better! Well, babies raised by uneducated moms usually have lower IQ’s for whatever reasons. These babies often have health issues because their mothers just aren’t as aware of all of the preventative care to take. They’re not bad moms, they just know very limited amounts of information and don’t really question what they’re told. So it would make sense that when these statistics were taken the results would be what they are. Is it the formula or the women who generally use formula? Just something to think about…

S U P P L E M E N T I N G  A T  T H E  B R E A S T

Another amazing alternative to breastfeeding or while you’re working to get your milk in is this great little device called the LactAid trainer system. You fill up a small bag with doner milk or formula or your pumped milk, hang the bag from your neck and tape a tiny little tube with the end at your nipple and when baby latches and sucks, she gets fed at your breast! I love this because I love the experience of bonding with her. I love watching her at my breast and I love being skin to skin with her. She prefers this method but will take a bottle under fire.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is be careful what you say about breastfeeding. While preaching the evils of formula is only well-meaning (of course)- it can easily throw off a mom who genuinely cannot breastfeed and make her feel like the biggest disappointment walking the earth. Instead, consider saying that breastfeeding is the ideal choice! Be supportive of moms who cannot produce and if you can, donate milk! So far, I’ve had 3 wonderful women offer their milk and although I’ve never been able to supply enough for her she’s consumed about 75% breast milk and 25% formula since birth! That’s amazing to me and I am eternally grateful to these women. I’m still working to get more and more milk in- but I realize now that what’s important is that I do my best. That I explore all options and that it’s important to ALWAYS question what you’re told. Formula companies make a killing off of people who just don’t know any better… ALWAYS question especially when there’s millions of dollars involved lol.

Thank you for reading this. I hope your breastfeeding journey is amazing no matter what and remember what’s important is that you show baby your love however you can.

– M

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My Breastfeeding Story

M Y  B O O B S  N E V E R  G O T  T H E  M E M O

This is going to be a very emotional account for me. The truth is that I’ve been putting it off because I haven’t fully wanted to face the reality of the situation. I definitely got spoiled with my ‘plan’ when I pulled off the home birth of my dreams. I just sort of expected everything else to go as planned! I had learned that formula was the devil and that mothers milk was the only thing good enough for my baby and her sweet little appetite. She latched PERFECTLY on day one. She immediately recognized me and her urge to suck was immediate. She started heading for my breasts the moment she was laid on my chest. What a relief! After I finally got up off of the floor (7 hours after I fainted), I couldn’t wait to snuggle up with her in bed and start giving her my milk. Day 1 she sucked, day 2 she sucked, day 3 she sucked but I instinctively knew something was off. It wasn’t the latch- that felt right. But she was sucking awfully hard and my nipples were in pain almost always. How is that possible if the latch is so good?

While I was given lots of advice, I knew I needed to consult and professional and rule out any questions. The pediatritian weighed her on day 4 and she’s lost almost a whole pound of her birth weight! YIKES! Everyone was so nonchalant about the whole thing, but I just knew she was getting fed properly. I hired Micky Jones of 9 Months and Beyond Nashville and she came over the next morning for some serious analysis. We unfortunately figured out that baby was getting about 4 ml per feeding and she was very, very hungry. I needed to produce closer to 30 to satisfy babies needs. My milk still hasn’t “come in”. After some analysis we found out that the baby was sucking so hard because she was trying to get milk out that wasn’t coming. I had to supplement immediately. We made her up a bottle and she took it happily. I cried 20 times over the next couple of days- I just had to get my milk in! My husband immediately went to get herbal supplements for milk production, I pumped after every feeding for 10 minutes without fail and I tried to imagine my milk coming in and baby getting her fill.

It’s been 2 weeks since we started pushing and while my breasts have gotten bigger, milk production still isn’t where it needs to be. I’ve had a really hard time with this and cried horribly at my inadequacies. How can this perfect creature be drinking formula? Why shouldn’t she have the very best? We think we’ve figured out why the milk hasn’t come in. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was very young but never wanted children so never took it seriously. PCOS means I produce more of a male hormone than most women so I have irregular periods, rarely ovulate, should have a high occurrence of miscarriage, grow extra hair on my body, could have a hard time getting my milk in and more! Ahhhhhhhh– why has my body betrayed me??!

Since that initial visit, I’ve made 2 decisions: first, to feed her with the help of something called a “LactAid“. It’s an incredible little device where even though I’m supplementing, it’s at my breast where she can pace herself and we’re still getting the bonding time we deserve. It’s been a great little device! Takes some prepping and practice but it’s worth it. Secondly, I’ve gotten some doners! Two wonderful mothers have pumped milk and donated it to my baby to minimize the use of formula. While it’s not my milk, it’s still better than formula. I am eternally grateful to these women and all of the women who have supported me on this emotional journey.

I feel like while it’s been a challenge I’m going to continue to do everything I can to make breastfeeding happen for us! Some days I am so angry at my body and other days I feel so badly for my baby. I’m still struggling with what not being able to breastfeed is doing and then there are times when I remember that I can only ask so much of myself. I feel like my body has betrayed me which is quite a strange thing to think after giving birth naturally. I continue to remind myself that my body is incredible and not to be too hard on myself. My baby is happy to eat, I believe. She’s happy to be warm and near me and that’s it. I know there will never be a point where she’ll resent me for not exclusively breast feeding.

So, this has been my journey and it continues. I’m going to keep pushing, keep pumping and keep doing what I can to bring my milk in. I hope my story inspires you to be thankful for your supply or to attempt alternative ways of breastfeeding. I believe it’s far too important to give up and as long as I’m living I’m going to try to give her the best. Courage, moms! One day a time…

– M

*Update 5/7/2013: I have continued to pump, taken Domperidone and continued to tried to do visualization techniques. The Domperidone upped my milk production from 1 oz. a day to 2 oz. a day and the accompanying side effects included constant diarrea and cramps. I have officially thrown in the towel. My plan is to continue to get her as much breast milk as possible from donors. So far, the plan is going great! She’s only had about three days of using formula and I continue to get calls, texts & messages on facebook with women who have milk to donate! We have been so incredibly blessed with the amount of people willing to help us out. I feel a lot better about things and feel very accomplished in all of my attempts.

All About Cloth Diapering

I  ♥  C L O T H  D I A P E R S

First off, let me just say that I’ve loved the idea of cloth diapers ever since my Mom told me that she used them on my brother and myself. I completely romanticized the whole thing growing up… imagining only the finest quality of fabrics touching my soft, perfect little bottom. I imagined perfectly placed matching pins with something adorable like plastic, pink bows on them. I help my head up a little higher knowing that my parents weren’t cool with contributing to the growing landfills full of diapers that would take a million years to decompose. I knew that when I had my own someday I would be a cloth diaper mama! I had no idea that it would take me in other directions- i.e. breastfeeding, natural home birth, baby wearing and all of that other hippy dippy stuff, but that’s a whole other story!

I have been determined to understand and utilize cloth diapers for my little baby Noelle from the beginning!

Here’s why: first off, cloth diapers are recommended for babies with sensitive skin. What does that tell you? All babies have sensitive skin, why not use gentle everything on your little bundle of joy? Secondly, while the initial investment may seem like a lot- it’s NOTHING compared to the money you spend on disposable diapers! The average amount spend on disposable diapers is $40 per month, so that’s $480 a year for approximately three years totaling about $1440! Even if you factor in the cost of electricity and water to wash the diapers it still comes out cheaper! Also, there’s the environmental impact- which I won’t get too preachy about. I do use paper towels sometimes & I don’t drive a hybrid car or anything but I figure it’s the least I can do for our earth. Oh, did I mention cloth diapers are freakin’ cute!?

S O  M A N Y  D I F F E R E N T  K I N D S !

There are so many different options with cloth diapers! It’s not like your mama remembers it. The three most popular kinds are pre-folds with covers, pocket style & all-in-ones. I am currently mostly using chinese pre-folds, closed with a snappi and a cover. I got my pre-folds from Alpine baby hub and I bought three dozen of them just to be safe. They look something like this:

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When I say cloth diaper covers, I mean covers with no padding inside. They only go over pre-folds, they look something like this:

image (2)

Some people make cloth diaper covers with the option to use them with an absorbing insert (disposable or fabric) instead of a prefold OR you can use a pre-fold and and absorbing insert. It really depends on what kind of wetter your baby is. Honeybuns makes OS (one size) cloth diapers with an insert option or to use as a cover! Honeybuns are my favorite as far as designs go as well. Other companies that sell prefolds are Babykicks and Diaper Rite. Some companies that make diaper covers (sometimes with liner) are Thirsties and Bestbottom.

Here is an excellent video on basic cloth diapering with pre-folds and covers:

The second most popular kind of cloth diapering is the pocket style. Pocket style diapers really resemble disposable diapers. You just stuff super fluffy and absorbent liners into them. You can put in one liner or two depending on your baby. The liners can be made of lots of fibers including microfiber, hemp, unbleached cotton and even flushable material. You don’t necessarily wash the diaper after every pee, you just replace the liners and then eventually you’ll wash the whole thing after a couple times. This pocket style diapering is a little easier than a whole new pre-fold every time but not as easy as the all-in-one, which I feel is a use once and then into the pail! Pocket style cloth diapers generally look like this:

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Lastly, a very popular type of cloth diaper is the AIO (all in one).An all-in-one system has only one part. In this setup, the absorbent material is sewn into the waterproof diaper wrap. This type of cloth diaper is the closest in form and function to a disposable diaper.The downsides are that they stay wetter than disposables, so they may be more uncomfortable against baby’s skin once they’re soiled. Also, all the washing will be done at home, since diaper services don’t typically pick up and deliver all-in-ones. Finally, and perhaps most troublingly, they tend to leak more than disposables. But that’s an issue with most cloth diapers, regardless of type. I have a few AIO’s but mostly just use them as backup. Here is what they generally look like:

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So that kind of narrows it down for you. Three basic types:

Diaper wrap (pre-folds with covers) — In a diaper wrap system, you have two separate pieces, the cloth and the wrap. The cloth, simply a piece of fabric that gets folded and placed against the baby’s bottom, is the absorbent component of the setup. The outer wrap is the waterproof part.

Diaper insert (pocket style)– This system also has two separate parts. In this case, it’s a waterproof wrap and an absorbent, fabric insert. The insert gets tucked into a pocket in the wrap, so it’s typically less bulky than the straight diaper-wrap setup.

All-in-one — An all-in-one system has only one part. In this setup, the absorbent material is sewn into the waterproof diaper wrap. This type of cloth diaper is the closest in form and function to a disposable diaper.

C L E A N I N G  &  C A R E

Here is what I do with all styles of cloth diapers. When they are wet with pee, I put them into the diaper pail. When they have poo in them, I sprinkle some baking soda directly onto soiled area and put into the diaper pail. I do diaper laundering every day so this works for me. When I’m ready to do a load of laundry I do a cold rinse load first- I set the washer to cold water and run the rinse setting with NO detergent. Just rinses all the poop and yuckies down the drain. Then, I run the load in warm water on regular wash and add Ruby Moon Scent of the Month Club ($14.40) a month detergent! I get a wonderful new scent monthly and I use cloth diaper specific detergent to keep any residue off of my diapers and keep them as absorbent as possible.

Once the diapers are freshly cleaned, they are ready to go in the dryer or be line dried. The heat from the dryer or the sun help to sanitize the diapers. Generally, you should dry your diapers on hot for 60-90 minutes. Some AIOs or extra thick diapers may take longer. Make sure you check the washing and drying instructions for every brand of diaper you buy in order to extend the overall life of your diapers. DO NOT USE A DRYER SHEET! It’ll leave a waxy coating on your diapers making them less absorbent.

I N  C O N C L U S I O N

From my experience I have learned taking the plunge and just trying some sort of cloth diapering choice, you’ll learn quite a bit rather quickly. You’ll find what works for you, because it turns out there are a lot of ways to cloth diaper, and no one way is the right way. You’ll get a feel for what works best for your babies bodies and your budget, and you can slowly add to your cloth diapering system, as your pocketbook and needs allow. I am throwing a cloth diapering party at my house in April to learn even more from a local cloth diapering guru! I cannot wait to get even more information on this ever expanding world! I hope this narrows it down a bit because there seems like there’s always more to know on the subject and it can easily get overwhelming. Happy Diapering!

– M

Noelle Snow ♥ A Water Birth Story

labor

L A B O R  A N D  B I R T H

Since we found out we were pregnant, we’ve been planning a home water birth- well, we got what we wanted! Noelle Snow Rivera came into the world on January 5, 2013 at 1:39pm. She weighed 8 lbs 6oz- she has perfect coloring, beautifully shaped head, blue/grey eyes. Here is my labor and her birthing story:

I started to feel strange cramping sensations after I picked my husband up from work on Friday night. I was approximately 42 weeks pregnant at that point so my Mom drove with me everywhere so I wouldn’t get stranded alone. My husband and I had dinner plans with some friends in midtown and we had about an hour to kill before we met up. We were walking around and the cramps got more and more intense- having had twice thought I was going into labor I was determined to ignore the symptoms until I felt them much stronger. We met up with our friends for dinner and the cramps got more intense! We took our amazing food to-go, got in the car and went home so I could rest.

About 10 minutes after we got home I was out of early labor and into early active labor. About an hour after that I was in transition. We called the midwife and doula and they both showed up about an hour later. I was active labor from about 10pm until 7am the next morning. This is not the same for every woman, but for me, the pain was excruciating. Contractions lasted about 2 minutes with about a minute in between for 9 hours. By the end of my transition I was exhausted, even while trying to sleep in between. Jeremy slept next to my tub and woke up with every contraction. We had no clocks or sense of time and only knew it was morning by the light coming through the blackout curtains. I made a medium amount of noise. It was truly a chore keeping the tub full of hot water.

I wanted complete silence, from everyone. I didn’t want to be told what to do or bothered at all. The only touch I wanted was my husband in front of me. I wanted total darkness the whole time. I wanted to be able to listen to my body and not be distracted. Concentration was really important throughout the whole labor.

At around 8am my midwife wanted to check my progress. I was terrified she was going to tell me that I’d been in transition all night and I was still only 4-6cm dilated. Luckily, I was at 8 and 9 was on it’s way. I did a lot of walking after that- got out of the tub and did my contractions leaning on high furniture. This really got things moving. By 11am I was ready to go downstairs and start pushing. I had the incredible urge that I completely understand now and totally hated. I pushed for about three hours- completely soberly. I had no sense of time and had lost all faith in my abilities to it at that point. By the end I decided that I was going to get her out if it killed me and I literally thought it would kill me. The very last push left me on all fours in the tub, ready to pass out. The midwife pulled her out from under me and put her on my back. Jeremy cried his eyes out looking at her. I stared at the water and was told not to move because I had a baby on my back. She didn’t cry for a minute. I couldn’t see or hear her and I was about to pass out.

For what seemed like an eternity I stared at the water & then Sheryl told me to turn over and meet my baby! We sat there skin to skin until the tub got too cold to stay in. Seeing her for the first time was incredible- Jeremy just sat there with his mouth open- and couldn’t stop saying how beautiful she is. I just stared at her, trying to keep my eyes open and kept kissing her head. I barely bled after that until after the placenta was delivered- Jeremy cut the babies chord after it turned white.

My midwife asked how I was feeling and if I wanted to get out of the tub, thinking that getting out of a tub was nothing at this point, I leaned on the edge of it to move my body upwards and completely passed out. I blacked out for about 90 seconds and woke up on the floor- they had lifted me out of the warm tub and I was on the floor, on my stomach, unable to move. I hadn’t slept for 40 hours, I’d thrown up all food, I was hydrated luckily but had lost a lot of blood with the placenta. Sheryl immediately checked my blood loss & blood pressure. Danielle, the assistant, monitored my pulse and they decided I was just exhausted. Daddy took over the skin on skin contact and she stayed with him until I could open my eyes again.

Grandma came in and the midwife asked if she was ready to meet her granddaughter. My Mom cried like a baby- for a long time and just looked at her. I can honestly say she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Absolutely perfect and so wide eyed and alert at such a young age. They examined her health and she was declared practically perfect in every way. While I was on the floor, we figured out a way to attach baby and start breastfeeding. She latched on immediately and took in a really good meal that first night. I stayed on the floor until about 9pm that night and Danielle stayed with me until I could get up and get into bed. She told me I was going to bleed for days but it would slow down a lot. I had to crawl up the stairs into my bed and almost passed out from attempting it.

Since then we’ve told family and friends she’s arrived and taken some pictures. Baby is doing great and feeding really well. She’s not very fussy- she slept through the night and we woke up and fed her around 2am. She’s absolutely perfect. It’s going to take a couple of days for me to eat, sleep and recover but I’ve got Jeremy and my Mom here to help me through. I wrote this very quickly, I just wanted to get it down while the memory is still fresh. But here is my labor story.

I am so proud of myself for following through with this. Our midwife said the baby didn’t go into distress once and that I brought her into the world the most gentle and perfect way possible, also, I didn’t tear at all! I experienced everything and while I’d never take what happened back, I certainly don’t think I could ever do it again. I do feel very empowered, I also feel very traumatized. Jeremy and I are absorbing a lot of what happened still. Would I recommend this to everyone? I don’t know. There’s something amazing about getting through it- but something terrifying about it too. I’m still piecing it together in my head while trying to physically heal. That’s all for now- I’ll update more and Jeremy wanted to write the birthing story from his perspective. But she’s here and I couldn’t feel more gushy about the whole thing. She’s absolutely perfect and we did it!

– M