Guest Post: Adventures In Formula Feeding

SippyCupChroniclesJenny lives in Florida with her two girls and husband. Her older daughter is going to be turning three in August and her younger daughter just turned seventeen months. After getting her MBA and having her daughters she decided to be a Stay at Home Mom. She began blogging about her experience as a Mom to two under two and it continued from there. You can visit her on her blog Sippy Cup Chronicles.

Why Formula?

I might as well answer, since this is a “Hot” button issue.  Although for me I don’t see it as one. I formula fed both of my girls from the moment they were born.  Now most people ask why I didn’t breastfeed and most of the time I just say that I chose not to, but in reality I have a minor anomaly that would not allow me to breastfeed.

My Mom breastfed me and all of my siblings and she is a nurse so I did have the support if I wanted to try.  I learned, however, that I would have had to pump and I decided that I was not the type to be able to exclusively pump.  Yes, I saw many Doctors to see if I would be able to breastfeed, including lactation and breast specialists only to be told the same thing.

So formula feeding it was.  For me I think that each mother has to be able to make their choice based on her family’s needs and it is a very personal decision.

If you can and want to breastfeed, that is wonderful. If you want to or have to formula feed, that is wonderful too.  No one should ever feel that they have to explain themselves in either situation and no one should ever feel bad about their choice and feel inferior.  Both are accepted ways of feeding.  I know that “breast is best” and I am very aware of the benefits of it as each mother should be, but in reality there are so many factors going into the choice that it just does not always work out for each mother and child.

I think mother’s should be supported when they want to breastfeed and they should be supported when they want to formula feed.  It makes me sad when mother’s that want to breastfeed are forced to formula feed in the hospital or the opposite way around.

Formula Feeding My Oldest

I will never forget the moment that I held my oldest daughter for the first time and was given the bottle to feed her.  In the hospital they give you ready to feed 2 oz bottles with ready to feed nipples.  The nurse says to me “This isn’t your first baby, right? so you know what to do”, Uhhh NO!

Turns out that newborns aren’t supposed to suck down an entire bottle in the first feeding session even if they want to, because they won’t be able to digest it.  So you have to take it slowly for the first 24 hours.  Who knew! I sure didn’t.

She also told me that I should try and pump, etc.  I explained to her that I understood her stance, but I had decided that I wasn’t going to pump.  She brought in the pump anyway.  So goes the support of my choice.  She didn’t bother me anymore about it though.  I was sent home with a ton of samples, etc. and we went on our merry way.

I will admit I became slightly obsessed with cleaning bottles and making sure the formula measured perfectly, but I started to relax a little after a few months.

My older daughter did completely fine formula feeding.  She did go through a gassy phase, which supposedly happens at around 2-3 weeks old and it happens to most babies.  Not just formula fed one’s.  She also spit up a ton!  She was considered a “happy spitter” meaning that she spit up a lot but it never bothered her and she gained weight fine, so there was no need to change formulas or give her medicines.  She stayed on the same formula for the entire first year that she was first given in the hospital.   No issues came up and she thrived.

Formula Feeding My Youngest

You know that saying “No two kids are the same”, yeah well I should have remembered this when it came to feeding my youngest.  I had a little more trouble getting out of anesthesia the second time.  So I think my husband gave her, her first bottle.  She came less than 18 months after our first daughter, so he was pretty ready for having a newborn again.

In the hospital my youngest did not want to eat.  Sometimes babies are a little slow to feed in the beginning.  They are very sleepy.  They did just go through a major event!  Well my daughter stopped wanting to eat on day 2.  She was a sleeper and we had to wake her up to eat.  The nurse even had to sit with her, since I was recovering from a C-section and had a little complication, and she had to slowly feed her and kind of make her eat.

When we left the hospital she was doing great.  For the first few weeks she did great.  Then the crying started.  What is this.  The gas drops did not work.  Nothing would make her feel better.  She did gain her weight back, but she was not sucking down bottles like her sister did.  I just figured she was a different baby and since she was slightly smaller at birth she didn’t need as much.  Well she was slow to gain weight and even though the doctor wasn’t really concerned I thought it was strange how many bottles I was just pouring down the drain.

She cried on and off all day and night for a week or so.  I kept trying all different things and then I was talking to a friend and she told me that I should try a different formula.  So I called the pediatrician to see what he thought and he agreed.

Well the change in formula did help a little but it also became evident that she had reflux and would need some medicine.  Poor thing!  I felt so bad when she would just cry and cry.  Even after the medicine was started we still had some nights like that.

Finally, her reflux got better and she was on her way.  It was a complete different experience than it was with my older daughter.

Some Ins And Outs From My Perspective

Every child is different and every pediatrician is different.  Therefore, my main advice is to discuss things with the pediatrician when you decide to formula feed, whether that be the day of birth or a few months in.  Yes, listen to your friends and family and their advice, but your pediatrician should be who you go to for feeding information.  Don’t make big changes without consulting your doctor.  Also, it is interesting to know that many store brand formulas consist of the same ingredients as popular formula brands.  So that is something else you might want to consult your pediatrician on.

I always give my girls the formula that my pediatrician is suggesting.  That is what I tell the nurses before I deliver.  With my older daughter she stayed on that from the moment she was born, until she was one.  For my younger daughter we did have to change hers due to lack of gaining weight and reflux.

Poop color can differ from breastfed babies and the consistency can be different.  So if you are ever concerned you can ask the pediatrician, but realize that it can be quite different from your friend’s child that is breastfed.

I always fed on demand.  Many formula fed babies can sometimes go a little longer than breastfed babies, 3-4 hours, but you just never know.  The first night home with my older daughter she ate every hour!

You may have to go through a few bottles until you find the one that is best for your child.  Playtex Drop Ins happened to be my girls bottle of choice, but that does not mean that it will work for every child.  And for me, bottle warmers aren’t necessary.  A pot of hot water works just as well.

If you are feeding in the middle of the night you may want to keep some premade bottles all ready.  I will tell you mixing formula, etc. when you are completely sleep deprived is very difficult and frustrating sometimes at 3AM.  Just make sure you read the directions very carefully as to how long the bottle is good for, etc.  Once a child starts eating from the bottle it is no longer good no matter how much formula is in it.  Read the directions on your specific formula’s can and don’t take chances.

For me Ready to Feed formula was the way to go, but sometimes it can get quite expensive.  However, many formula brands do make ready to feed 8oz bottles or 4 oz bottles and they come in very handy when you are out and about.  That way you don’t have to worry about coolers and such.

Yes, a feeding pillow still is needed if you formula feed.  I found it very, very beneficial when I would feed my girls in the middle of the night in my bed.  I also found it beneficial after I had my csection.  So no they aren’t just for breastfed babies.

The Formula/Hospital Debate

Many might have been hearing about many hospitals not giving out formula.  I did not run into this experience at all and I gave birth in a very pro breastfeeding hospital, especially the second time.  However, since there has been much talk about this it might be good to call your hospital ahead of time and find out their protocol now on bringing home formula samples.

I left with tons and tons of ready to feed formula, but I know that may be changing in many hospitals.  From what some of my family and friends have told me about their experience with it they were allowed to use the formula in the hospital but they were not given it to take home.

So just call ahead of time to find out about what your hospital does, just so you are prepared.

What is my take on it?  Well it is what it is.  Nothing you can do about the protocol of your hospital, but I really hope that your dr.’s and nurses support whatever feeding choice you make.

Thank you so much Jenny for sharing this.  Many of you know that my oldest 3 all have had formula.  My youngest is the only one who was exclusively breastfed.  I didn’t even consider breastfeeding with my oldest and not because I couldn’t because obviously I could, but because I was in a different place in my life at that time.  There is and never should be no shame in using formula.  So thank you to Jenny for this reminder.  Be sure to go say hi to her over at Sippy Cup Chronicles.

I so appreciate all of the guest bloggers that I have had here over the past month celebrating my Blogiversary.  And I appreciate each and every one of you wonderful readers.  I’m looking forward to many more years of blogging here at Monica’s Mom Musings.

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  1. Great post. With all the breastfeeding advocates going nuts on formula feeders, and the formula feeders responding angrily, trying to defend their position, it’s nice to read an informative article that doesn’t fan any fires or start any debates.

    I think that is the problem with hospitals… They really need to do better with supporting mom’s choices. If you say breastfeeding, they should not give formula samples. If you say formula, they should not try to force a pump on you.

    Anyway, I remember when I had my daughter, I was supplementing due to low supply. I was so paranoid about sterilizing bottles and mixing formula! Once my husband washed the bottles and I found out he didn’t sterilize them and I cried. I guess that’s just how it is with your first hahah.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by Camille. Jenny did an awesome job didn’t she? I’m a breastfeeding mama actually, although I haven’t always been. My oldest I fed formula right at birth, but my youngest who’s 17 months now breastfed until she was 14 months when she weaned on her own. I actually appreciated the samples of formula from the hospital. It’s nice to have something in case you need it. I know a lot of people say that if you have formula in the house, then you’ll just give up. I completely disagree with that notion though. I think if you’re really determined to breastfeed then having a little formula in the house isn’t going to sabotage you. And after what I went through with my 2nd daughter when she stopped latching on as soon as my milk came in it was nice knowing I had a can of formula at 2 a.m. when she wouldn’t take the breast and I couldn’t pump because I didn’t have a good quality pump. Finding a store that was open at the time in the morning that sold formula wouldn’t have been easy so I was very grateful to have it in the house. I had it in the house with my youngest too and never used it. So I think it’s really pretty silly to argue that that’s what’s causing women to NOT breastfeed. Just my 2 cents though ;).

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