Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On breastfeeding: Supplementing doesn't mean you've failed

I have 2 wonderful children, and during each pregnancy I had the intention to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months when I would introduce solid foods while continuing to breastfeed.  Sometimes life has other plans, and that's okay.

When Little Ish was an infant, he stopped growing, and I was adamant that I could get him to grow with out formula supplementation.  That plan didn't work so well, but I, like so many other moms, believed that giving my child formula was a terrible option and would make me a bad mother.  When he was 7 months old he managed to increase my supply due to a nursing marathon (sometimes fevers have benefits!).  He started growing really well for about 3 weeks, and then I got pregnant with Liliana.  My supply tanked and Little Ish started growing in reverse.  I knew at this point that I had to give him formula--turns out he is just as stubborn as his mother, and he wouldn't touch the formula with a ten foot pole.  In a lament about his stubborn nature, K suggested that I just needed to find him breastmilk.  I was very blessed to find donor milk for him through Human Milk 4 Human Babies (on facebook) and One of these donors provided him with most of his milk from the time he was 8 months old until his first birthday.  This method of supplementing seemed like a fairly natural progression to me.  I had virtually no supply and I had to feed my baby (he still nursed, but nursing was the supplement instead of the donor milk).

Liliana's story is a bit different.  Breastfeeding was going really well originally--I even had an oversupply.  At 2 months, Liliana started having terrible reflux.  Her growth came to a crashing halt.  It picked up a little bit when she went on reflux medication, but then it stopped again.  At first we thought it may have been due to a string of illnesses she had during January and February.  Not so much the case.  It turns out my sweet little girl has milk and soy protein intolerance.  Her way of coping with the pain from the food intolerance and the reflux was to only eat just enough to satiate her hunger but not enough to grow at a healthy rate.  After eliminating all dairy and soy from my diet and getting her on the appropriate reflux medication, she is growing but not quite as well as she should. This time around, milksharing is not an option for us; even if I could find a dairy-free/ soy-free donor, I do not feel comfortable trusting that they haven't accidentally consumed these ingredients.  After a grieving a small bit about having to supplement, Liliana is now getting a small supplement of hypoallergenic formula once a day.

I don't think I am a bad mom for giving her formula.    I fully believe that breast milk is what is best for Liliana, and I am continuing to nurse her despite a very difficult nursing relationship.  I also believe that having a healthy, well-fed, growing baby is a bigger priority than making sure that Liliana's diet is 100% breast milk.  Not only do I not believe I am a bad mom for giving her formula, I feel like I am being a better mom for making sure my baby is adequately fed.  Supplementing doesn't mean I have failed at breastfeeding or at being a mother.  In this case, it means I am making the best choice for my baby.

1 comment:

  1. You are right. You are NOT a bad mom for having to supplement. You want a healthy, growing baby. That is what is most important. Kudos to you for seeing that and not feeling like you have failed simply because the nursing relationship isn't like you had hoped.