Is formula really okay? - Mothering Forums
Life With a Baby > Is formula really okay?
Greenlea's Avatar Greenlea 09:35 AM 05-05-2011

I think I just reassurance.  My 6mth old nurses every 1-2 hours, even at night.  I pump and pump and pump just to get enough for him to go to daycare, but I have nothing left over if I ever need to get away for longer than those 1-2 hours.  Plus, I'm exhausted from being up all night nursing.  And no, its not just him using me as a pacifier, he's actually nursing, I'm getting a let down, he's getting quite a bit of milk; I hear him swallowing a lot.


I really have been trying to not use formula with him.  I had to use it PT with my older son when I went back to work.  Like I said, I can pump enough for daycare, but nothing left over.  My DH and I haven't been out alone in forever; I'm in a wedding coming up where I'll be gone all weekend, as its out of state, and I didn't want to have to bring him - but I'm not sure I can pump enough for a whole weekend.


I guess I just know I'll get down on myself if I do go with some formula and I've been putting it off.  Does anyone have any suggestions to get him to nurse less, although I don't think it'll work and I don't want him to go hungry, but I'm kinda going insane having this baby attached to me all.the.time.  I know that's what babies do, but at 6mths, I'm kinda needing a break KWIM?

WifeofAnt's Avatar WifeofAnt 10:11 AM 05-05-2011

Have you tried to increase your supply other ways?  Pumping more often?  Pumping on the side he's not nursing on?  Oatmeal?  Mother's Milk Tea?  Does he eat any solids?  Solids *should* be in addition to breast milk but something like avocado might make it stretch just a little more during daycare.


I don't think formula is 'horrible' but it won't be easy on his tummy (or his emotions) to just leave him for the weekend with a food like nothing he's ever eaten before.  Plus unless you want to switch over formula full-time you'll also have to keep pumping around the clock while you're gone and that's not a guarantee to keep your milk supply high enough for when you return.  Can you realistically wake up that often during the night to hook up to a pump?  Its possible you can make enough milk for him but your 'storage capacity' is smaller so he has to eat more often.  The number I think was a 300% difference in storage capacity between women.  It might have been more.


There's also the possibility that he's in a growth spurt and that is why he is nursing so often.  If I remember correctly there is a growth spurt around 6 months old.


One more question... do you cosleep?  My DS wakes anywhere from once to who-knows-how-many times but it doesn't feel like I lose any sleep when he is waking more frequently because neither one of us wakes fully.  Some nights he doesn't unlatch for hours at a time and we both sleep through it.

Greenlea's Avatar Greenlea 10:25 AM 05-05-2011

I have tried fenugreek & the Motherlove tablets (can't remember their name right now) and I eat oatmeal like everyday.  Pumping didn't work with my older son either, I'm surprised it has worked this long for my younger son.  I'm already pumping 6-8 times a day for daycare meals.  I have tried solids, but he won't eat them (both purees and finger foods).  The wedding actually isn't until end of August (at which point he'll be almost 9mths), but I know that I can't just switch to formula that weekend, so I was going to begin earlier to make sure he's okay with it.  And I know I'd have to pump while at the wedding, but like you said, can I do it as often to keep up my supply?  Who knows, maybe by then he'll be eating some solids.  I know adding in some formula will bring down my supply, which I'm worried about.


So do I continue on this constant nursing streak having no time to myself or with my DH alone or bring in some formula and jeopardize my supply? Nursing is very important to me, but feeling like a zombie is getting to me too.  Grrrrrrrr....


Oh, and I doubt its a growth spurt right now.  He's been eating like this pretty much since he's been born.  He was 9lbs2oz at birth and right now at 6mths he's 17lbs 1oz.  When he had a recent growth spurt it was even worse.

happysmileylady's Avatar happysmileylady 10:26 AM 05-05-2011

I assume what you are asking is that if you leave breastmilk but it turns out that your little one wants more than what you are able to leave, is it ok to give him formula.  Is that correct?


If so, yes, it's ok for him to get a little bit of formula.  I would suggest that if you are going that route, then maybe try out some of it before you go.  As previously mentioned, it could upset his tummy some and you may need to try a couple of different options to find out what works for your baby.  And it could be that the taste might be an issue.  When we first gave my almost 8 month old formula, she took two sips out of the bottle and realized that it was NOT mommy's milk.  She fussed for a bit, but there wasn't anything else to give her (I was not actually home, I was at work.) and once she quit fussing, she sucked it down.


Some babies are picky and some aren't.  The first time my now 2 yr old had formula, she completely accepted it without complaint. She was BM only until like 4 months old, then on a mix of formula and BM for another 2ish months.




Even if you are talking about fully weaning...yes, formula is ok.  It's baby food, not rat poison.  Millions of babies go on to live totally healthy lives after spending their entire first year on formula, without ever having a drop of breastmilk.  There's nothing about formula that guarentees that your child will be doomed to a life of misery and sickness.  It's only a small factor among many and is never the deciding factor. 

MSWmama's Avatar MSWmama 11:40 AM 05-05-2011

YES. In fact, I know this opinion isn't going to make me very popular around here, but I think that if you're pumping that often and as exhausted / burned out from it as you sound, you might want to consider allowing your son to have some formula on a regular basis when you're not around. The absolute best thing I ever did for my nursing relationship with my son was decide that I'm only going to pump while I'm at work or otherwise away from my son for a few hours.


So, I pump when he's not with me and freeze that, and if he runs out while I'm at work he gets formula. For awhile it was a bottle a day, more recently he just eats more solids when I'm gone and "holds out" for the good stuff (he's 6 months). I used to spend my whole day worrying about my "stash", rush off to pump as soon as I got him to nap, pump on one side while nursing the other, etc. I felt like I hardly got any work done at work because I was so busy pumping (even hands-free, I have a hard time having a let down if I'm not focused on pumping).  Honestly, it was getting ridiculous. As a PP said, it's formula, not rat poison. I know this method won't work for all mamas and babies, but it really has reduced my stress level sooo much. 


As far as a weekend away goes, I would worry less about what type of food he's getting (as long as it's something he's used to - so, if you decide to do some formula I would start with a bottle of it here and there now, so you know he's ok with the taste, it doesn't bother his tummy, etc). My bigger concern would be how he's going to handle the separation at 9 months - that seems like a hard age to be away from you for two days. Only you know the specifics of who will be watching him, how comfortable he is with that person, etc, but honestly that would be my bigger concern. Just some food for thought. Good luck with your decision!

ShwarmaQueen's Avatar ShwarmaQueen 11:48 AM 05-05-2011

I had to supplement DD after 7 months (like you, I returned to work and couldn't pump enough). I think at that point their stomach is 'sealed' more than at the newborn stage and there is less risk for allergies, etc. I felt ok with it after a bit, but still nursed her all the time at home (until she was 14 months) and still coslept so she still got the closeness she loved. DD is super smart and loving. No long term damage here. lol

nilatti's Avatar nilatti 11:49 AM 05-05-2011

OP, I totally feel your pain. In fact, I was going to post a very similar question. I work from home every afternoon, but I spend every morning (8-12) at the office. I pump when I'm at the office, but he has started eating WAY more than I'm able to pump. Like, I can pump 4-6 oz, but he wants to eat 6-8 oz! I really think this is a pumping problem--when we're together all day and nursing on demand, he doesn't seem hungry. And yes, I eat oatmeal practically every day and drink Mother's Milk Tea like it's going out of style. I just think the baby's better at getting milk out of me than the pump is. I have NO back-up frozen bank right now. He's an eating machine!


I really struggled with the idea of giving him formula, because you hear how bad it is and everything. But after researching, it seems like there's nothing--not juice, not almond milk, not anything--closer to breastmilk, nutritionally. 


Last week, at the end of my rope, I bought a can of formula powder, just to see how it went. He spat up a lot, but he ate it just fine. He's only had to have 2 bottles of formula. He's also starting to eat some solids--loves applesauce and yogurt. He was not at all into solids even a month ago, so don't give up hope! My husband (who typically cares for our son in the mornings) and the sitter we take the baby to occasionally both know that the formula is a last resort. Knowing that his care providers have it when my boobs are at the office gives ME a lot of peace of mind. I guess we should try another brand or something to see if we can find one that suits his tummy better...but how many canisters of formula do I want to buy? 
Anyway, that's what I tried...and I don't feel great about it, but it's a decision I can live with. Good luck to you!

PatioGardener's Avatar PatioGardener 11:56 AM 05-05-2011

Remember too that formula is not your only choice. Donated breastmilk is also a possibility, and is recommended by the WHO when mom's own milk is not possible, but before introducing formula.

WifeofAnt's Avatar WifeofAnt 12:23 PM 05-05-2011

Originally Posted by ShwarmaQueen View Post

I had to supplement DD after 7 months (like you, I returned to work and couldn't pump enough). I think at that point their stomach is 'sealed' more than at the newborn stage and there is less risk for allergies, etc.

Totally agree with this.  You made it to 6 months and the intestine sealing is in full swing.  The things I've read say the best thing you can do to prevent allergies is to exclusively breastfeed for at least 4 months.  You've done that and beyond!  If you have no other choice it isn't likely that it will hurt your son by supplementing with a little formula.

tiddle's Avatar tiddle 12:24 PM 05-05-2011

I can't help you with the formula part, but if you're trying to up your milk supply, how much liquid are you taking in on a daily basis? I go through at least 2-3 litres of water a day, plus other drinks. I use a 1L nalgene bottle so that I can just drink whenever/wherever and when I don't have it my supply noticeably dips. Also, how do you eat? I eat when I'm hungry - the usual 3 meals with snacks in between, including late-night snacks, and I don't skimp on fats. (It helps that I can't stand the taste of low-fat products in general! redface.gif). If I wait a long time between meals or if I eat lightly and don't snack, my supply dips. I would imagine that dieting or trying to "lose the baby weight" could have similar effect.


If I'm worried or stressed out I also notice a dip in supply. I try to be happy or at least keep sane - difficult with a toddler and a newbie, some days! - and I take a multivitamin.

Greenlea's Avatar Greenlea 12:34 PM 05-05-2011

I guess I could up my liquid intake.  I drink at least a 34oz bottle of water at work each day, but I only work 3 days a week.  At home I guess I should be getting more.  And I'm eating constantly, meals, snacks, late night snacks - I'm always hungry.  I don't skimp on fats or salt. 


Now I'm more worried about leaving him for the weekend for the wedding.  Maybe I should just bring him with me.  My mom is going to watch them, whom I totally trust, but she got invited to the wedding too, so maybe she could watch them at the hotel.  Hmmmm....something to think about.

D_McG's Avatar D_McG 01:23 PM 05-05-2011
Originally Posted by MSWmama View Post

YES. In fact, I know this opinion isn't going to make me very popular around here, but I think that if you're pumping that often and as exhausted / burned out from it as you sound, you might want to consider allowing your son to have some formula on a regular basis when you're not around.

That's what I would do, too. I am a SAHM but I hate pumping and have always said that if I had to work FT I'd supplement as much as I needed to keep my sanity.

For the wedding, I'd bring him and have someone watch him there if possible (I wouldn't bring him to the actual wedding. I'd enjoy a night out by myself!)

CI Mama's Avatar CI Mama 01:24 PM 05-05-2011

I'm one of those moms who used a little formula with DD because I also had trouble pumping enough and never had a great "stash." I am well aware that using formula was not the perfect way to do things, but being a perfect mom was really never in the cards for me! shrug.gif Having formula as my "back up" and using it when I had to get through non-routine moments was totally worth it in terms of helping reduce my stress & making me feel more relaxed about breastfeeding. I actually think that using formula a little helped me breastfeed longer because it got me through a few moments when I was ready to throw in the towel. DD is 31 months and she still nurses!


Just letting you know you're not the only breastfeeding mom who considers formula and/or uses it. I was raised exclusively on formula and I seem to be normal. winky.gif Maybe that perspective has helped me justify my formula usage!


Also, I just want to share that I got better results pumping when I did it less. I started out pumping 3 times a day at work, and I found that I could get just as much milk or more by pumping only twice. Because DD was nursing so frequently at home (including nursing every 2 hours throughout the night), I needed a little time to "refill" before pumping. I don't know if that's a typical experience or if changing your pumping frequency will have the same result. Sometimes we have to find our own rhythm & way of doing things, even if it doesn't match how things are "supposed" to work.


Good luck!

tzs's Avatar tzs 04:20 PM 05-05-2011

my thing that age you may have already started solids anyway. formula is just another type of food that's different from breastmilk...just like anything else he's going to be trying. i don't see the big deal to supplement...especially since you are trying your hardest in the first place.

Perdita_in_Ontario's Avatar Perdita_in_Ontario 07:00 PM 05-05-2011

Originally Posted by tzs View Post

my thing that age you may have already started solids anyway. formula is just another type of food that's different from breastmilk...just like anything else he's going to be trying. i don't see the big deal to supplement...especially since you are trying your hardest in the first place.

Completely agree.


Jenni1894's Avatar Jenni1894 08:44 PM 05-05-2011

I think it's okay.  DS had formula about your DS' age.   I was working and just couldn't do it.   What about mixing your milk w/formula to stretch it out a bit. That is how we started and then I only nursed when I was with him.   And maybe give him a formula bottle about bedtime.   Maybe that would give you a few more hours of sleep since formula fills them up longer. 

And maybe keep offering him solids like dinner time..he's probably not used to the texture/taste?  

Adaline'sMama's Avatar Adaline'sMama 11:36 AM 05-06-2011
I wouldnt worry about supplementing if you need to. There are some really awesome homeade formula recipes out there too.

I want to say this gently, and Im sure people will differ with me about my opinion. I would really think twice about leaving my nine month nursling for three days. Im worried about the seperation anxiety your son will have, and if you are already worried about not being able to produce enough milk, it just seems like a bad idea. Remember, no breast pump is as strong or powerful as the baby himself, so you are going to be getting less from pumping than he would be getting nursing. I would venture to say this this will likely decrease your supply. I honestly cant imagine leaving the state to go have fun without my babe in tow at such a young age. But, that's coming from me, and I still havent spent even one night away from my 13 month old, so take it as you wish.

ETA: I do have plans to leave her with grandma in two weeks overnight. But we will only be about 15 minutes away.
Greenlea's Avatar Greenlea 08:50 AM 05-09-2011

Adaline'sMama - I completely understand where you are coming from.  I am still having issues with not wanting to leave him.  My DH really does not want to bring him or my older son.  It would be from Friday around 1pm to Sunday around 1pm.  I know I still have the option of bringing them with my mom, and I still have until end of August to decide, so we will see.  However, I feel like no one really understands where I'm coming from with wanting/needing to bring him with.  Like I said, my DH doesn't want to bring them to kind of have weekend alone, and my mom is on the fence about wanting to watch them at the wedding. 


Well I bought some formula and had my mom watch him Sat. night while DH and I went out.  Annnddd...he wouldn't take it :(  We dropped him off around 6-6:30pm and went out to eat.  We were going to go out after dinner but he wouldn't drink the bottle so we went back to pick him up around 8pm.  The bottle was 1/2 breastmilk and 1/2 formula.  I am thinking that he may not have wanted it because it was bedtime and he wanted to nurse to bed though.  So I gave my sitter some formula today and told her to try some and see if he would take it.  We'll see.


Its all just very frustrating.  I tried to go out Sat. afternoon shopping by myself.  I was gone for almost two hours and came home to a screaming baby (and a very frustrated DH) because he wanted to nurse.  People are saying I messed up not giving him formula earlier, but I was really trying to exclusively breastfeed for as long as I could - for one because I want him to nurse longer than the 10 mths my older son nursed.  I know formula is not of the devil, but I felt like it was what helped my older son wean early so I was trying to avoid it.  I think its just harder since I work.

D_McG's Avatar D_McG 10:52 AM 05-09-2011
I have heard of people doing even smaller ratios for formula (to start so that they'll take it). Like 4/5 EBM 1/5 formula. Maybe that would work? then gradually change it obviously.