Episode 50: Baby Formula--Is It Bad??
Welcome back to Breastfeeding Talk: Milk, Motherhood, Mindset. I’m your host, Jacqueline Kincer. And I am excited to bring you a new solo episode today. And I’m celebrating today’s episode because this is episode number 50 of the podcast. And while I probably initially planned on releasing a lot more episodes by this point in time, if you’ve been a listener of the show, you know that I don’t like to release episodes just for the sake of releasing episodes. And so I really want to bring you value when I post something. So I’ve got a bunch of incredible guests lined up for you. We’ve got some moms stories coming up, which I think are such word medicine for any of you breastfeeding parents out there, because knowing what another family has gone through on their breastfeeding journey, what they’ve overcome their thoughts and feelings as they went through what they have, can be so inspirational, it can remind you that you’re not alone. And you can hear from someone who really really gets it. Not that I don’t get it. Obviously, I breastfed two children myself. And I help people with breastfeeding difficulties, you know, all day every day. Except weekends I do try to take off but that doesn’t usually pan out. I mean, not that I’m resentful or anything I love it.
But you know, I’m always answering text messages and things from clients. So, or emails, what have you. But today’s episode is one that I’m sure will be a topic that I will talk about more in future episodes. And I know I’ve alluded to it in past ones, and that is formula. And I’m just going to refer to it as formula. I know there’s a lot of people in the breastfeeding community that like to call it artificial infant milk, because that really is sort of the proper term for it. But I think there can be a negative connotation with that. Because it just really makes it sound bad, right. And what I want to talk about is that formulas, not bad formulas, not evil. It is not breast milk versus formula. I think that we can really reframe the conversation about this. And I think that there’s a lot of blame to put on the formula companies, not people who use formula, but formula companies because they do engage in predatory marketing techniques, especially in third world countries. And it’s incredibly harmful to infant and human health. So I do think that we do need to be cognizant and aware of formula marketing and realize that, you know, it is not better than breast milk. It’s not it’s a nutritional nutritionally inferior food for babies. And that’s a scientific statement.
That’s not a judgment. That’s a fact. And until the science says otherwise, which the science unequivocally says that breastfeeding is the ideal, superior, optimally nutritious food for babies. And until again, again, if the science changes and says otherwise, but so far, it hasn’t. In fact, we’ve just collected more and more science saying that breast milk, you know, does does offer something that formula cannot at this point, then we need to be really clear and factual about that. There is no denying that. And I really don’t think that families out there who used formula to feed their babies are somehow convinced that it’s better than breast milk. But I do think that they are convinced that it’s better than breast feeding, but not breastfeeding in its ideal state. Right. Formula use is better than breastfeeding with continued difficulties. It’s better than and during, you know, really damaged mental health of a mother because of the breastfeeding difficulties or lack of support or resources, etc, that she’s experiencing.
So it’s a really, really nuanced thing that we need to talk about and I’m not one for taglines. I’m not one to sit here and say breast is best or fat is best. I don’t like either of those. I don’t, I don’t think that it’s breast milk or formula. And bottles don’t always Mean Formula formula use. So let’s just be clear about that. But I think that formula has been overly demonized, especially by the natural community, the wellness community, the holistic community, which is odd, because holistic does not mean natural, holistic means looking at the entirety of a person or situation, and incorporating everything we need with the least possible intervention, you know, that we need. So holistic does not mean natural, I’m going to be really clear about that with people. And a good example of this is, in my practice, I often work with babies that are tongue tied, doing a surgical procedure to release tongue ties, is not natural.
So it’s the opposite of that, right. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t do it right. Taking a holistic approach means that we incorporate all that we need, again, with the least amount of intervention possible to create a positive outcome. Now, if I was totally naturally minded, then I would denounce using formula I would denounce treating tongue ties, I would denounce a lot of things. And that really doesn’t serve anybody being a purist in any sort of a way really does not serve a lot of people, it can serve a few people, but it does not serve many people. Because that’s just not possible. It takes a high high level of privilege to do everything naturally. And even then there’s no guarantee that that’s going to create an optimal outcome for someone. So let me get off that soapbox for just a second. Let’s talk about Formula though. I think there is this there’s this duality between formula and breast milk. There’s this dichotomy that exists where it seems to be one or the other. And now I have this phrase that I use a lot which is breastfeeding is not all or nothing. So Breastfeeding can mean a lot of different things. It can mean feeding your baby at the breast can be pumping breast milk and feeding that to your baby. It can be combining the two.
It there’s there’s a wide spectrum of what Breastfeeding can encompass. Breastfeeding can also encompass using formula supplements for your baby. Now, I want to be clear that formula supplementation is still overused, it is still used unnecessarily. And that has a lot to do with an upcoming episode that we’re going to have on the podcast next week with Melanie Silverman. She’s an ibclc, a registered dietitian and Chief Clinical Officer at a company called pacifier. And you can hear more about that on Episode 51, with her coming out next week. But there seems to be this idea that using formula somehow means the end of breastfeeding or the beginning of weaning or something like that it can mean that women are failures or, or that we’ve failed to produce what our baby needs. And that’s really not the case. I think that as women we’ve been taught to distrust our bodies. And this is from a very, very young age. In fact, I was listening to Glennon Doyle’s podcast, I have not listened to this until recently, a colleague had actually posted an episode of hers that sounded very intriguing.
So I went to listen to it, it’s on self care, but her podcast is called, we can do hard things. And in that episode, she talks about how young girls are and young boys as well are taught very young to have a narrow range of emotions, that there are some emotions that are okay to express and there are others that are not okay, because they make others feel uncomfortable. And when we start denying our own emotions, or we put those emotions on the backburner, or we bury them, because we don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable, then we start to distrust ourselves. We’re almost gaslighting ourselves, in essence, and it happens on a very subconscious level. Sometimes it’s more overt, but that leads to a lot of other manifestations throughout life. It leads to us not being able to emotionally regulate ourselves and not being able to trust ourselves in when it comes to making decisions. It also leads to us not being able to trust our bodies. And as women were trained early on, you know, I think there’s a lot of people that could relate during puberty years, where maybe they had very heavy, painful irregular periods, and their doctor put them on birth control to change that does not really help the problem.
It can sort of be a bandaid for the symptoms, but it doesn’t treat the underlying cause of that menstrual difficulty. And so we’re taught early on with us situation as simple as that, to distrust our bodies, that our bodies aren’t wise. They don’t know what they’re doing and they need medicine to function properly. So how are we ever supposed to embrace the wildness, the unpredictability, the ever changing this of breastfeeding when we’ve consistently been taught by family members, society, the education system, media, and so on and so forth, to distrust ourselves and to distrust our bodies. This is a huge reason why formula supplementation is overused. Pediatricians Look at the baby who’s not gaining weight well, and instead of advising the mother to work with a skilled ibclc, instead of advising her on breastfeeding, because they have little to no training on the subject, they will send you home with a sample Kanda formula and tell you to feed your baby X y&z ounces, XY and Z, you know, times a day. So how is that going to instill any sort of confidence or trust in this mother in her body and her ability to nourish and take care of her baby? Well, it’s not, it’s going to undermine those things. So then mothers unnecessarily use a formula. They either believe that there’s no point in them trying to do more to help breastfeeding or they do and they get support, and sometimes they don’t get the right support. Unfortunately, maybe they have a bad ibclc. You know, maybe they’re getting some bad advice online or something. So there’s so many factors. So what I want to say is that I’m not advocating for Formula use, in the sense of just willy nilly, you know, like, oh, formulas fine. And there’s no problem with using formulas. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that there’s, there’s problems.
With overuse of formula, or improper use of formula, there’s problems with lack of education, lack of access to education resources, and that is what’s leading to the complications of formula use. Formula use has a time and a place, always. And any ibclc, who is good at her job, we’ll be the first person to recommend formula when it’s needed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that. I’ve had clients come to my office, and their baby is literally starving, and the mom just has no milk. And I’m like, Hey, there’s a Circle K, a quarter of a mile from here on the corner, I’m gonna need you to run and get a camera formula right now, because I can’t continue this appointment with a starving baby. And no, I don’t keep formula in my office, because, well, one that’s kind of a huge liability. For 1am I ethical code actually really prevents me from doing certain things that would make it seem like I’m aligning myself with a breast milk substitute. But it is actually readily available everywhere, if you live in a populated area. So let’s start in a little more about this topic. First and foremost, the rule of baby feeding is that the baby needs to be fed. Okay, and we want to make sure that they’re fed safely. So using formula doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re being fed safely. There’s different types of formula, right? There’s, there’s sterile formula, which is pre made, it comes in a liquid form, and it’s in single serve bottles. So it is not to be reused. And so that’s an important distinction. That is the safest option for babies, especially ones who are medically fragile, who are preemies. Anything like that sterile formula is the way to go. If you’re going to use it, however, it gets expensive. And so there is that. And so then the next level is you can buy the premade formula, sort of in a larger jug that is liquid. But once that bottle is opened, yes, you can pour off the servings that you need, but now it’s no longer considered sterile.
So that’s just something to keep in mind. And then there’s powdered infant formula, which is what’s most commonly used. And I’m sure you’ve all seen it where you know, there’s a mom at a restaurant a park, you know, some sort of public place. And she’s got a little formula dispenser and some bottled water, she puts both things in the baby bottle shakes it up and gives the baby the bottle. That is not safe formula preparation. Now I’m not saying this to shame any moms who have done it, I get it, convenience, whatever right. But we do have to be honest here that safe formula preparation is mixing powdered infant formula with boiled boiled water, not boiled water that is cooled. Okay, mixing with freshly boiled water. And the reason for that is because one formula products can be contaminated. And there are absolutely cases of recalls of infant illness due to it. It’s not all the time. It’s not super common, but it can happen. So the more that we can do to reduce the risk, the better. That’s no different than saying that before you breastfeed or pump that you should be washing your hands. The reason why there’s a Have nipple infections and things. When people have nipple damage isn’t because of the damage itself. It’s because mothers are applying breast milk creams doing other treatments to the breast with unclean hands. Okay, so it’s kind of the same thing with formula. Now a lot of people will say, Why have clean water? Why do I need to boil the water, it’s not about the water, it’s about the formula. Powdered infant formula is not a sterile product. So there can be, you know, pathogenic bacteria in there, when you mix that powdered infant formula with boiled water that kills off that pathogenic bacteria. And now that’s a safe food for the baby. Powdered infant formula is designed to be mixed with hot water.
Okay, so these manufacturers know that that’s proper formula preparation. Now, they may have different instructions on the can for you, I generally still always advise boiling the water to mix it with the formula, because that’s going to be the safest practice. And that doesn’t come from me that actually comes from the World Health Organization. And again, it’s not about the water, although boiling water, we’ll make sure that that is extra safe, too. But it’s about the infant formula itself. So a lot of people don’t know that I’ve never heard a pediatrician recommend to perform prepare formula and that way, which is unfortunate. And again, most of the time, babies are fine, most time they don’t get sick. You know, I get it. Okay, that’s like eating food that’s past its expiration date in your fridge, you’ll probably be fine. Right? But then there’s times that you won’t be, you know, or there’s times that you buy that romaine lettuce, and it turns out there was a listeria or E. coli outbreak and you got sick, had you cooked the lettuce, it probably would have been killed off, but who’s cooking their lettuce, right. So just an analogy, to kind of explain what that’s all about. Again, this isn’t coming from a place of judgment, it’s just coming from a place of science of facts of information. What’s cool about information is you get to take it all in. And then you get to make a decision based on that information. That’s called informed consent. So that’s what I’m hoping to offer you. But let’s get back to kind of the nuance things about formula here. So if you’re unable to provide enough of your own breast milk for your baby, the next best thing you can do is to get your hands on donor breast milk.
So there’s kind of a tiered approach here. Again, this is also a World Health Organization guideline. So let’s say you’re you’re trying to pump extra, what have you, you still don’t have enough to meet your baby’s nutritional caloric needs pay. So you go seek out donor milk. Now, the best place to get it from would ideally be something like a milk bank, where all of the donors are already screened. They’re not allowed to take certain supplements, medications, they’ve had blood work done, the milk is tested, it’s often mixed with other mother’s milk, it’s not any one particular donors milk that your baby is getting. So there’s a really good nutrient profile to the milk and whatnot, pay. So this is a safety tested product that you can get now outside of the hospital setting outside of the NICU setting, that kind of milk bank donor milk can be hard to get, it can also be very expensive. So for a lot of people, that’s not a viable option, especially if you just don’t have that locally in your own area. So the next next thing would be private arrangement, milk sharing PBMs. And really, that is just informal, donor milk. There are many different options for this, sometimes it will be a mom, friend, maybe a family member that you know that has extra breast milk that their baby doesn’t need. It could be someone that you’re connected to through a mom’s group, it could be going through a network like eats on feets or human milk for human babies, or some other milk donor sharing network like that, where you connect yourself with someone who’s a donor, and then you do your own private screening of that person.
And you can choose this level of screening that you want. The unfortunate thing about this is that if you want to be a really strict recipient of breast milk, in terms of your screening, if you ask for someone’s recent blood work, if you ask about their medical and health history, and what have you, a lot of donors are going to have so many people wanting their donated milk, that don’t require strict screening, that it’s just going to be less of a hassle for them to give them out to those people than it is to someone who’s more strict about it. So unfortunately, this system doesn’t always work as ideally designed. Because if you want more information about the donor, you may be sort of the last person in line to get their milk. And it’s not because, you know, because they don’t care or because they don’t want to be a safe donor or anything like that. And in fact, I would say anybody who informally donates their milk where they’re not charging for it has a huge heart. They are probably a person that takes very good care of themselves and they understand the importance of breast milk to babies and they just have a big heart and they want to share it Extra that they have, they really don’t have any ill intention. There are some places where you can find online where you can buy breast milk. But unfortunately, once you start involving profit in it, there can be some shady, nefarious things. You’re also competing with body builders, cancer patients, all sorts of people who are paying some good money for breast milk, because they use it for their own health benefits. There’s also sadly been cases very rare most of the time, where people say they’re selling breast milk, and it got tested independently in a lab, and it’s cow’s milk.
So you kind of don’t know what you’re getting in, it’s very scary. So I’m not saying the informal milk sharing is not a good idea. But I am saying that it has more risk, right, and you have to assume the risk is that recipient of the milk. So it’s complicated is kind of the way to say it. And especially if you live in a rural area, you know, can be really, really hard to find even donor milk to be able to trust the people to have a large selection of options. So it’s just something to keep in mind, I’m sure there’s more milk sharing networks out there than what I’m aware of. It’s going to depend on locality. I’m speaking from a US centered standpoint, and what I know of in my metro area, but every place has something different to offer. Then of course we have formula. So formula is a safety tested product formula is standardized, it is regulated by the FDA, it has a complete nutrient profile for a growing infant. And it has the proper amount of calories, all of that, right. So there, there is some assurance, there is some safety there. Also, some people don’t feel comfortable giving a you know, body fluid product from another human being to their child, right. So donor milk may just be something that you just prefer not to use. Again, or maybe you don’t have access to it. So whatever it is, so then there’s formula. And then there’s all kinds of different formulas out there on the market. Now, I am not here to say what brand is good, what brand is bad, anything like that. But what I will tell you is that going with a large company with a good reputation is almost always a good idea.
Organic, maybe better than non organic, but quite honestly, it’s just probably not the highest important thing. And I know I might get a lot of pushback on that. But you know, regardless of the ingredients that are used in Formula, there’s always trace amounts of heavy metals and things like that there are in breast milk too, by the way, okay, our bodies are polluted bodies. So our food our soil is polluted. So this concern about you know, contamination or toxins outside of the overt ingredients that are listed on the Canna formula, guess what? That stuff’s in your breast milk, too. Okay, so that doesn’t make breast milk about food, it also doesn’t make formula bad food. Now, the ingredients in Formula are harder to digest for most babies, right? It can be compromising to their sensitive infant guts. There’s absolutely problems with it. Some babies have cow’s milk protein sensitivities, and are not going to do well on a cow’s milk formula. So this is where it comes down to choosing a formula can be complicated, but it can also be over complicated. So what I mean by that is everybody wants to know what’s the best formula? Well, that’s like asking me what’s the best baby bottle, the best breast pump the best anything, the best formula for your baby is the one that your baby does best with. That’s different for every baby. Okay, so some babies are not going to tolerate one formula brand. And they may tolerate another one that looks like it has identical ingredients much better.
So you may find that all of your plans to spend top dollar on the best infant formula go out the window when your baby’s constantly spitting it up. So just keep that in mind. It can be a bit of a trial and error process. Also, if your baby’s never had formula before, their gut is going to need to adjust to it. Their bowel movements and their digestion is going to change to accommodate this new food that’s going into their body, just like it would if they were starting solid foods, it doesn’t mean that the formula is problematic unless you’re seeing some signs that it is. So the best person you could probably ask would be a pediatrician that does not regularly or at all, take formula samples from Formula reps that come and visit their office, because they’ll probably just recommend whatever brand is most active coming to their office to represent their product. So ideally, find a pediatrician who’s unbiased and can guide you in proper selection of an infant formula. You can also absolutely work with a nutritionist, or a registered registered dietician that works with infants and they’re going to be an excellent resource for you if you’re looking for some guidance.
From a health care provider, some ibclcs are educated on this, some are not. But what I want to say about using formula is that a lot of moms have the stigma stigma against it, you know, the the main driver, as to why moms choose to breastfeed their babies is because they want to give them the best start to their health in life, they want to give them the most optimal nutrition, immune support, brain development, all of that. Right. So their motivation for breastfeeding also has to match their motivation for choosing a formula. And if your baby’s getting, it’s not like if you’re having a lack of breast milk production, that you have to stop now producing breast milk and just give your baby solely formula, like formula is just an add on, it’s just a supplement, right? So you’re still giving your baby the very best, which is breast milk. Now you’re just giving them something in addition to that, so like I said, breastfeeding is not an all or nothing proposition. So you don’t need to stop pumping, you don’t need to stop feeding at the breast. But if your infants growth is compromised, you know, so as their overall health and their brain development, so you need to start supplementing, and get your baby back on track. And it also may not be forever, this may be a temporary stopgap measure. So we have to make sure is that using formulas not this slippery slope that leads to less and less breastfeeding, unless that is something that you want. So that’s where it gets tricky. This is why it’s really good to have good breastfeeding support in place, so that you don’t get lost down that tunnel and just your milk dries up.
And now your baby’s basically completely on formula when that’s not what you wanted. So make sure you’re getting the support you need. But that being said, I also know that there’s a lot of grief around not being able to support your baby solely on your own milk. This is probably not what you envisioned for yourself. This is probably not what you envisioned for your baby. Right? Rarely do our plans go according to plan when it comes to becoming parents. Many of you may be able to relate to this if you’ve created a birth plan for your birth, and then you got to the hospital or the birth center or you started your home birth and it did not go as planned and you did something you didn’t want to do. Because that’s what was needed to be done. This is very, very common. Okay, so breastfeeding often goes that way as well. Not all the time, but a lot of the time it does. And it’s okay to feel those feelings. Like I was saying about that episode of The Glennon Doyle podcasts I was referring to, when we deny our feelings, we deny ourselves and we create more distrust of our own selves and we lose our confidence. We lose our sense of capability, and you are capable, you can do this, you can feed your baby the very best and feed them in the very best way. So sit with that grief, sit with that anger, sit with that frustration. Allow yourself to feel those things. Don’t numb out by eating candy. binging on Netflix, checking out of your emotions. Don’t do that. But do do things that you can do to care for yourself, take a long shower, take the dog for a walk, take the baby for a walk. You know, spend some time you know if you enjoy cooking or baking, like do an activity. That is an activity where you can process your thoughts but also regulate your own nervous system. Instead of looking for ways to escape. Sit with those feelings.
Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling. And as you do that your feelings are going to change. And ultimately you’ll come back to a place of peace and acceptance around what is happening. So when we fight what’s happening, we get feelings of anger and frustration and that’s okay temporarily. But what we don’t want to do is to deny those feelings and to bury them. And then now we’re stuck in a cycle of grief. And we’re stuck in a safe cycle of self distrust and self hate. And then we get bigger things like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, we don’t want to go down that road. So there can be a lot of grief with this. It’s okay to feel whatever you feel. Feelings are just information. Feelings are not good or bad. So I want you to stop judging your own emotions around your experiences. I want you to really sit with it and say, Okay, I’m feeling really angry right now that I have to start using formula for my baby. What is that anger trying to tell me? And just explore get curious, ask yourself these questions. But what I don’t want you to do is go I’m wrong for feeling angry. I shouldn’t be feeling angry about this. People everyday use formula and they’re fine and their babies are fine. That’s not where I want you to go with this. I want you to go, why am I angry?
What does it mean? What is it trying to tell me? Or you can even ask this question about what am I making it mean by giving my baby formula? What meaning Am I making of that? Because humans were made meaning making machines, right? Like, we love to make meaning out of everything. And this is where miscommunication comes in all the time. Right? How many of you have had this happen? Raise your hand, because it’s all of you, okay, where you’ve gotten a text message from someone, and you totally misread the emotion behind that, and you took it the wrong way. This happens all the time. And it’s because our brains like to make meaning of things. So what meaning are you making of giving your baby formula? Let me help you reframe the meaning. Okay, there’s no right or wrong way to feel about it. But I do think that you should not let your feelings guide you away from supporting your baby and their needs. So just because you don’t want to use formula you don’t like using formula doesn’t mean that you should not be doing that. Okay? Like those are two separate things, feelings don’t have to guide our decisions, feelings, again, our information, right there information for us to learn more about ourselves, your baby’s body will be able to handle formula.
Okay, trying to give your baby all breast milk. That’s a wonderful goal. I love that I work really hard to support families and that goal every single day. Okay, but if you don’t have enough breast milk, it’s not better to give your baby less breast milk, but all breast milk, right? What is best is to give your baby all the nutrition they need some of it being breast milk, and some of it being something else, that something else can be an Augment to the breast milk. Okay, it’s not going to protect your baby to give them all breast milk, but not enough of it, that’s not helping your baby formula is not bad, your baby’s body will be able to handle the formula. I think that the wellness community has gotten so deep and really gone off the deep end on this whole idea of things that are bad for us things that are toxic things that are contaminated things that are going to disrupt our health, disrupt our microbiome, disrupt our micronutrient profile, etc, etc, etc. Okay, and so then the wellness community sells you on this idea of avoiding these things at all cost. Don’t don’t use this because, you know, because it’s they use hexane to extract the coconut oil, like, you know, there’s all these things, right? Don’t use this skin product, because you know, it can seep into your skin, and then into your bloodstream and whatever. But what they’re missing is, is the full picture of the science, our bodies were made for this, our bodies were not so fragile Lee designed that we need to put ourselves in a bubble and avoid toxic exposure at all costs. If that was the case, we would not be living on the overpopulated planet that we do. Okay, so humans are living longer and longer. And maybe we do have more and more health problems than we used to, or chronic health problems, right. And there are a lot of lifestyle choices and things that lead to that. And I understand that I’m not saying that that’s not the case. But what I am saying is that, you know, adopting, you know, a very strict sort of diet supplement regimen, regimen, lifestyle, regimen, whatever. You may also be putting yourself at a disadvantage. When you do things, you may be thinking that you’re creating optimal health for yourself, but you may also be simultaneously decreasing your resiliency, we need to build resiliency, resiliency, physically, mentally and emotionally. So the same way that I was just talking about that you don’t want to work to escape your emotions and your feelings, you don’t want to numb out you don’t want to silence that part of you.
You also do not want to escape all toxins known to man be thinking that it’s going to be better for your health. It’s not pay our bodies have built in detox mechanisms, this idea that, you know, putting certain things on your skin or ingesting them or whatever, now it raises your blood levels of XY and Z toxin. You know what your body does with your blood. It goes through the liver, it goes through the kidneys, it’s got many detox and cleaning mechanisms, your lungs are a mechanism of detox, for goodness sakes. And if we don’t keep your body, this well oiled machine, where it knows what to do when something that’s not good for it enters it. It’s going to be really, really weak. It’s not going to be handling those things that come at it very well. So I’m not saying that babies should have formula to create some sort of resiliency for their bodies. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that going to the extreme and thinking that any formula exposure to your baby ever is going to ruin everything for them is just not true. The reason why formulas harder to digest is because those ingredients are not breast milk, but their bodies are strong. They’re able to work harder to digest it, will it change their poop as it comes out? Yes. But poop is a way of detoxing. Poop is a way of getting rid of the things that don’t serve the body. So it’s a good thing that your baby’s poop changes when they ingest formula, it’s not a bad thing. So we need to stop looking at changes to our bodies, changes to inputs to the body are bad, they’re not all bad. Let’s trust the body. Let’s trust your baby’s body. Let’s trust the foundation you’ve built for them with a healthy pregnancy, and postpartum and all the breast milk you’ve been able to give your baby so far, let’s trust that you’ve set them up for success.
And then let them run with it. Because you know what I guarantee when your kids older, and they’re at a friend’s house, and they drink a soda and eat a bag of Cheetos, when you’re not around. Like, you’re not going to be able to stop that when your kid grows up and moves out of the house. And they engage in all sorts of healthy habits, you’re not going to be able to stop that. But you’re also going to hopefully feel good that you raised your child with a good healthy start and foundation, so that they can live the rest of their lives in a way that’s healthy, that they can handle things that are not good for them. And that they can overcome those challenges and assaults to their bodies. Right. That’s what we’re hoping for as parents. So using formula is not a sign of failure, it can be a partner to your breastfeeding relationship. If you choose to look at it that way, you can say you know what I’m doing the best I can providing breast milk for my baby. I’m just not quite there yet. And meeting their needs with this, I may never be. So to augment that breastfeeding journey to support what I’m doing for my baby, I’m going to incorporate this other food, this formula to help complete my baby’s needs. It’s not an enemy, it’s not a us versus them proposition. It can be a partner on your journey, if you let it if you look at it that way. And that’s how I’d like for us to look at it. Again, it’s not formulas bad. breastmilk?
Good. That’s, that’s not it. So I come from a place to have, even when I started my practice, and when I first became a mom, I was definitely on that bandwagon of like, I don’t ever want to use a medication, I don’t ever want to get formula. I want to get vaccines, I don’t want to do all this stuff. Okay? Just be a real purist about it. And you know what I learned, I’ve learned a big lesson along the way as both a mom and a clinician, one that was toxic for my mental health. There’s constant anxiety, labeled checking all the time. Okay, I’ve gotten used for you. When you walk out the door and you breathe out outside air, even if you live in the forest far away from a city, you’re breathing in pollutants. But guess what, they don’t stay stuck in your body, your body will process those and find a way to expel them, and get them far away from the internal organs from causing big problems for you. You will be okay. You will be okay. If you drink a Diet Coke today. Just don’t drink a Diet Coke five times a day, make good choices, right? There’s this makeup artist on YouTube and Facebook and she has a podcast now. Her name is Bailey Syrian. And she does this like murder mystery makeup thing where she tells these like horrific murder mystery stories while she’s doing her makeup. And I find it just fascinating. She’s a really, really good storyteller. But I can’t, I don’t have the heart to really watch much of it because the stories are just awful. But if you’re into that, check her out Bailey Syrian, but she always ends every video with make good choices. And I love that because that’s really all we can do. Right? All we can do is make a choice with all the information that we have in the time at that moment. And we can make the best choice that we can for ourselves, for our children in that moment, making the choice to use formula to augment your breastfeeding journey, or to just move forward with that and to choose to discontinue your breastfeeding journey can be a good choice. And you don’t have to explain your choices to other people. You really don’t like you get to decide what’s best for your baby, or you and your partner, or other family members that are responsible for being caregivers for your baby.
That’s who gets to make that choice. Not someone in your mom’s group, not your neighbor, not some lady at the grocery store. They don’t get to make those choices for you. And so since they don’t get to make those choices, their input doesn’t really count. Okay, I don’t get to make that choice for you. You don’t have to take my advice or input at all. But what I want to tell you is that
my mental health suffered when I was a real purist about all these health things, okay. But what I realized was is there was a lot of incomplete science being shared out there, where when you would actually look at the full text of a study and you would see, you know, elevated blood serum levels of X, Y and Z. Oh, that looks bad or whatever. But at the end of the day, that stuff was getting filtered out of the blood, and that part was left out of The study because it wasn’t good science. And so there was another study saying, This is why people get confused, right? I’ll just kind of cut into this here. This is why you on the news, you know, I don’t know if this still happens, because I can’t say really watch like TV news. But I remember this just from the past, right you’d, you’d hear a news story about how drinking a cup of coffee for you is really good every day. And then you hear how like coffee is bad for you, right? Drink a glass of wine is good for you. Drinking wine at all, drinking any alcohol is bad for you. And there’s these constant back and forth. Well, one, you know, these headlines sell, they get people to engage in the content, they get people to consume the content, and then they can sell you, you know, products through advertising. So I get that that’s how that works.
But also, it’s kind of not their fault. When there’s bad science out there. There’s incomplete science out there. If you’re only looking at one function, one mechanism in the body of something. And you’re saying in your making extrapolating all these conclusions based on that one data point, or a few data points, you’re not looking at the whole picture, right. And then looking at that in some people’s bodies doesn’t mean that’s how everybody’s body works. So basically, what I’m trying to say is take a deep breath, and relax, it’s okay to not be able to meet all of your baby’s needs with your own breast milk. It’s okay. You’re not a bad mom, you’re a good mom, you’re a good mom for beating meeting your baby’s needs. The formula is not anti you. formula does not mean anything about you. Using formula doesn’t mean anything about you, unless you want it to. So let yourself decide what using formula for your baby means, or any of the choices that you’re making as you navigate this rocky journey of motherhood. And you will change your mind so many times as you grow and get older. I am only in my mid 30s. And I look back on the collection of lessons I’ve learned even in the last five years. And I’m astonished. But I do not think that I’ve reached some sort of level of mastery or wisdom. I am not as naive as that. I am looking forward to what will I have learned what will I have changed what why have become by the time I’m 50 years old. If I’ve already come this far in this journey, and I’m still kind of fresh and a newbie, I can’t wait till I’m older, I’m so excited. I’ll probably be recording, well, maybe I won’t even have this podcast anymore. But I’ll be recording totally different episodes than I would today.
And that’s what’s cool. Everything in life is dynamic. So you know, that’s kind of my message in terms of formula. It’s not bad, it’s not good, unless you want it to be bad or good. So how about you just decide what you want anything like that to mean to you, and what you want it to mean to your baby, but let’s start looking at our decisions is not an either or proposition, not an if this, then that kind of a deal. Let’s look at it as a we can have both. And we can still thrive, we can be successful, we can be proud, because we’ve chosen to add something else in or we’ve chosen to take something else out. So I hope that that message landed soundly in your hearts today, I will do a little Bailey series in here and say make good choices people. And I really, really do just want the best for everybody. And the cool thing is, is that I don’t get to decide what that is for you. You do and that’s a huge responsibility. And I think so many of us, sometimes we’re just overwhelmed by accepting that level of responsibility. And that’s okay. But what does that overwhelmed trying to tell us? Well, sometimes it’s not about that decision that we have to make. Sometimes it’s that we’re not doing enough self care, we’re not getting enough support in other areas of our lives. And so what can we do about that? Right? The choice is up to you. It’s a really, really big power to hold. And it’s a lot and it’s okay, that it’s a lot and it’s okay to feel whatever you feel around that. So give yourself permission to feel give yourself permission to do what you see fit. And just know that whatever choice you’ve made can always be changed to some extent. And it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s totally fine. Mistakes are how we learn. So I make mistakes all the time. Heck, this podcast episode might be a huge mistake. I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out when listeners give me feedback. And if you do have feedback about this podcast, I would absolutely love to hear from you. Head on over to Instagram send me a DM at holistic lactation, make sure you’re following me there. I post two to three times a day. I make very educational content about all areas of breastfeeding. I’ve got reels, I’ve got posts, I’ve got videos, I do live broadcasts. over there.
It is the main hub of interaction with me. So head on over if you’re not already a subscriber to this podcast, you are going to want to hit the subscribe button because like I said, we’ve got millet, Melanie Silverman coming up next week, we’ve got some absolutely incredible guests that I have gotten booked up for you guys, that this kind of end of summer heading into fall is going to be a fantastic season for breastfeeding talk. And I really don’t want you to miss any of the content. What is so cool about most of these episodes that I do is that they can apply to any stage of lactation or breastfeeding. These are great to listen to if you’re pregnant. If you’re a professional supporting anybody in you know, this kind of a space. If you’ve already had your baby, if you’re breastfeeding a toddler, like there are so many good episodes that can apply, no matter what stage of breastfeeding you’re in. So make sure you stay subscribed and let your friends know about this podcast. And if you love the episodes that you’re hearing here, it would mean so much to me if you went over to Apple podcasts and left a review with your comments over there that helps more listeners find the podcast and enjoy these recordings as much as you do. So I will see you all on the next episode. Again make good choices. I’ll talk to you soon.
I get tons of questions about baby formula as a Lactation Consultant. There are SO many myths, beliefs, feelings, and miscommunications around this very sensitive topic.
I don’t believe in the formula vs. breastmilk debate and I will NOT participate in that dichotomy. It is unhealthy, neglects the needs of families, and fuels the “mommy wars” movement.
What I am here to advocate is that formula is used safely, without fear, and that it isn’t seen as an enemy to breastfeeding.