Thursday, June 23, 2011

Breastfeeding {Part 3} -the addition of formula

We've started giving the boys formula.
Not all the time, they still mostly breastfeed, but every night before bed they get a bottle of about half of my expressed breast milk and half formula.

All the way back when I was pregnant women started saying to me, "Don't feel guilty if you can't breastfeed all the time. Don't feel bad if sometimes you have to give them formula."
But if you want to breastfeed exclusively then there's nothing anyone can say to keep you from feeling guilty.

The first time the boys got formula was in Montana when I stayed with my parents. The boys were on a weird schedule for about two days where they wanted to eat every 45 minutes.  I wasn't eating, sleeping, or producing milk because my body was so stressed by their need to eat.
They would cry and I would cry and ask, "What do you want?! What more can I do?"
My mom, trying to be helpful, said "They're just hungry, and you can't make milk because you haven't slept. Maybe just once you give them formula and go to sleep and then feed them again in a few hours."
And I flipped out.
Give my babies formula? Was she joking?
When Travis called to say goodnight I yelled at him too. "My mom wants me to give the boys bottles!"
And he said, "Well... maybe you should. Just this once."

At which point in time I became not only hysterical, but also nonsensical.
"Jill started giving her baby a bottle just every once and a while and now she doesn't even breastfeed at all!" I sobbed.

Then I would sob louder and say, "God promised me that I could breastfeed, and he doesn't go back on his promises, so if I'm not making enough milk it's because I don't have enough faith!"

Then I would cry, "If I give them formula then just anyone off the street could feed them. All they need from me is milk! If I can't even give them milk then they don't need me anymore!"

And I would collapse into even greater hysterics sobbing because I felt like a serious failure. I kept repeating "I can't even feed my own children, what kind of a mother am I?"

And it's been like a month and I haven't wanted to admit that I'm giving them bottles, because it still feels a bit like failure.
But in the end, the boys were starving and I had nothing to give them, so we bought some Similac and they scarfed it down in mere minutes and then conked out to sleep for like 6 hours.
I slept, produced enough milk that I even had to pump, and felt all around better. (Although I was a bit disappointed that they accepted the formula so eagerly.)

Then on the ride home from Mt, we lost the nipple shields that I use when nursing and there was nowhere around to buy them.  Without their shields the boys couldn't latch or eat, so we gave them formula again.
(I'm actually really grateful I went through my original meltdown with my parents, because I'm pretty sure I would have flipped out then too, except that I was with my father-in-law on a road trip... which would have been worse.)

Giving the boys formula was incredibly difficult, but it's actually been super helpful in the long run for several reasons:
1. I have been able to build up a supply of stored milk again, and I was completely out and couldn't give the boys bottles EVER, even of my own milk.
2. I think it helps the boys sleep better because formula digests more slowly than breastmilk so they stay full longer.
3. I also think it helps the boys sleep longer because they have a bit more of a routine at night. They always get a bottle before bed, but the breast at every other feeding.
4. I can leave. I don't usually WANT to leave, but it's nice to be able to say "I am going to run to the store, if the boys wake up and are hungry, give them bottles."
5. Travis and I were able to go on a date, because we knew that we had bottles for the babysitters to give the boys, which was wonderful.
6. We were able to go to church, which we hadn't done yet, because when the boys wake and are hungry they need food ASAP, and it's pretty much impossible for me to feed both the boys in the church bathroom.
7. It's been a relief for my body. Even though I pump after we bottle feed the boys, so I'm still producing milk at that time and whatever, it's nice that for a few short hours a day there isn't a baby hanging off of either side of me.

And even though it's cheaper, and I'm sure it's exactly the same, I still can't bring myself to buy powdered formula. We've been forking out the big bucks for the bottles of liquid formula, because it seems a bit less cruel to feed them something that looks like my milk.
As opposed to giving them something that I know is water mixed with dusty milk.
Anyway. I just thought I'd let you know that I am giving my boys formula.

I've been feeling guilty for not writing it.
Like I've been misleading my readers by allowing them to think I exclusively breastfeed.
There's a lot of guilt associated with breastfeeding, isn't there?
I hope that you don't feel guilty if you can't breastfeed, but - as I know all too well- it's a realization every woman needs to come to herself. So good luck.
And wish me luck as well.

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Mary Helen said...

It's nice to see I wasn't the only one to go nutso when I realized I had to start using formula. Lil' man was having other health issues which was amping up my stress and thus lowering my milk supply. At first I thought it was going to be the worst thing ever, but like you've discovered it was awesome the first time I could have hubby feed him in the middle of the night. I've become a much happier mama and he doesn't seem to know the difference. Good luck with everything! You're a great mom, don't ever forget that!

Alissa Moghtaderi said...

My ten-week-old boys get about half breastmilk and half formula, and we used the premixed Similac for a while, too. But the powder actually smells better and feels fresher. We're very happy now that we've made the switch to powdered!

Meagan @ Meagan Tells All said...

I BF my daughter until she was 6-7 months old, but I knew from about 4mons old that she needed something else. I was in denial for months thinking I could still BF her for 5 minutes on both sides and she would have the biggest nursing strikes. SO finally, after trying to convince her that formula wasn't poison, she switched over 100% within a few weeks and was great. I always felt guilty carrying around my formula 3 section small canister (from's amazing!) when we had to prepare her a bottle at church knowing that all the BF mommies to their 1 yr olds were staring at me. BUT in reality, it was all in my head. BF or formula, a baby's got to eat and thrive and grow. SO with that said, when I have #2 I will be much more inclined to give formula when I'm not producing as much milk and I'm not ashamed of it. But, you're right. There is a crazy amount of judging that happens in the mother world with those crazy BF nazis that believe you're satan for giving your baby something other than formula. Just flip them the finger and say screw you, do YOU have two babies?? NO way girl friend :-) I love your blog and your boys are so precious. Keep up all the good work girl, you're an amazing mother and I appreciate your honesty. I wish I was more honest on my blog. But I got a nasty email from a blog readers husband that made me really reluctant to be honest. Screw him, but now I'm verrrrrry hesitant.

able mabel said...

I think it's unrealistic for anyone to think that a mother of twins shouldn't supplement with formula. You're a prefectly wonderful mother even if you bottle feed your babies.

Amanda Marie said...

I feel like I could have written this myself. I went through the exact same emotions with my first son. Now my second is almost 3 weeks old and I've gone back and fourth about the formula thing. There have only been a couple of times he refused the breast, but I knew if I had to... I'd just give him formula. Even still, it's hard. I commend you for writing this post. You're a great mother! :)

three little bears said...

Becky! I am a new follower to your blog and a momma to a 21 month old and 7 month old twins. I am still exclusively breastfeeding but am feeling such an internal struggle with starting formula. I haven't done it yet because I feel so guilty but after reading this post if we choose to start supplement w/ formula I am NOT going to beat myself up over it. I am so glad you posted this!! Your boys are adorable and you are a SUPER momma :) xoxo Becky

MARCIE said...

I always gave my babies the dusty milk. You make me laugh.

Alicia said...

I totally know how you feel. Because of some situations during my daughter's first few days of life she didn't take to the breast. I tried for 6 weeks and then resorted to pumping. I pumped and pumped and pumped all day every day but still had to give her one or two bottles of formula.

I cringed every time that I gave her a formula bottle but I knew she was healthy. She didn't get sick often and is a smart and healthy 16 month old. I know it's SUCH a disappointment but you are doing the absolute best you can and it's obvious that you are a great mom. I decided that breast is mostly best, not always best. :)

Unknown said...

do you get soaked when you use the nipple shields? I've been trying to tandem-feed with my girls, but each one SOAKS me and practically drowns herself...its a nightmare.

Becky said...

I totally understand! I wanted to exclusively breast feed my 3 month old son, but alas that I am a working mom. I stored up a lot of milk while I was on maternity leave, but the stores are getting low and I just don't produce enough during the day (while I'm away from the baby) to keep up. I feel that formula is in my future. But, I cry when my husband suggests that we use formula and I try my hardest to up my milk supply by pumping and thinking sad baby thoughts (my milk comes in when my baby cries). But, this post is uplifting to me. If you can do it, I can do it.