Breastmilk is Best, But Formula is Fine, Too.

Low milk supply is a common concern among breastfeeding mothers, and it can lead to a range of emotions and feelings. For many mothers, breastfeeding is an important part of bonding with their baby, and not being able to provide enough milk can be a source of frustration, guilt, and anxiety. As a chronic low supplier, I feel this so much in my heart and soul.

Mothers who experience low milk supply may feel a sense of disappointment or failure, as if they are not meeting their baby’s needs. They may worry that their baby is not getting enough nutrition, or that they are not doing everything they can to promote their baby’s health and well-being. For many mothers, there is an “easy fix” to the low supply that can be addressed, whether at home with supply and demand nursing, extra pumping, supplements or medications, or visiting a medical professional. For many others, there is no “fix”.

Ultimately, the most important thing for a mother is to take care of herself and her baby, and to seek support and advice when needed. In addition to that, the baby must be fed. Although I was set in breastfeeding my children, I wasn’t able to provide all of their nourishment. In the future, I will write about my experiences. I had to make the decision to supplement my children with formula or donor milk if it was available.

Here is a well written article that talks about the advantages and disadvantages of both: breastmilk and formula. It does also touch on needing to supplement with formula. It is written by Michelle Llamas, who is a Board Certified Patient Advocate, and can be found here: Breastmilk vs Formula. The website is great because their information is fact checked, so more trustworthy than other places to get your information.

Some moms condemn formula. I feel like it has a place. In my life, it was to help sustain my babies when I wasn’t able to with my breastmilk alone. I know, as many of you all know, the great many benefits of breastmilk. The immunities alone are worth it to get me through another pumping session; baby won’t get that from formula. The point I am trying to make is: I am 100% for breastfeeding but I am also glad that formula is there and available.

Importance of Proper Support for Breastfeeding Moms

There is a lot of information out there in books, videos, the internet, well intentioned older family members, etc., about breastfeeding. The problem isn’t the lack of information; it is finding the proper support. However many moms you ask on their experience with feeding a new baby and breastfeeding, you will get as many different answers, ideas and opinions. But, in that critical, tiring, amazing, time as a new mom, you don’t have time to sort through it all. You need help and you need it now.

I do suggest finding and lining up that support ahead of time, while still pregnant. It is known that if you plant to breastfeed, you will have a higher chance of being successful if you have the proper support. It could be a friend or relative that has similar views as you. It could be lining up a Lactation Consultant that you can see after baby is born. It could be attending some breastfeeding support groups.

I myself have gone through a lot with the chronic low milk supply. With each baby, I had more information that I was able to use. I made sure I had a lactation consultant I can talk with and see. But, I feel like a big part of it was attending my local LLL meetings. It is a no- to low- cost resource that should be utilized by all moms who plan to breastfeed. Not only are there support meetings, but you can also contact a leader any time for help if you have any issues.

La Leche League (LLL) is an international non-profit organization that provides information, education, and support to mothers who want to breastfeed their babies. Here are some facts about LLL:

  1. Breastfeeding advocacy: LLL is dedicated to promoting and supporting breastfeeding as a natural and healthy way to feed babies. The organization advocates for policies that protect and support breastfeeding mothers, such as laws that protect a mother’s right to breastfeed in public.
  2. Mother-to-mother support: LLL offers mother-to-mother support through local groups and trained leaders who have experience with breastfeeding. This support can be especially important for new mothers who may be struggling with breastfeeding or who have questions or concerns about breastfeeding.
  3. Evidence-based information: LLL provides evidence-based information on breastfeeding and related topics, such as nutrition, child development, and parenting. The organization’s resources are based on the latest research and are reviewed by experts in the field.
  4. Community building: LLL provides a sense of community for breastfeeding mothers who may feel isolated or unsupported. Local groups offer opportunities for mothers to connect with one another, share experiences, and learn from each other.
  5. Cultural awareness: LLL is committed to cultural awareness and sensitivity, recognizing that breastfeeding practices and beliefs may differ across cultures. The organization seeks to provide support and information that is respectful of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Low Milk Supply

As with my children before, this time wasn’t different. And I didn’t really expect it to be. I just didn’t look forward to dealing with the chronic low milk supply that I have. But, at the least, I knew what it was going to be and mentally prepared myself for that.

Breastfeeding is a natural process that provides numerous benefits for both the baby and mother. However, for some mothers, producing enough milk to sustain their newborn can be a significant challenge. Low milk supply, also known as lactation insufficiency, is a common struggle among breastfeeding mothers.

One of the primary challenges of low milk supply is the inability to meet the nutritional needs of the baby. Babies require a certain amount of milk to grow and develop properly, and when the mother is unable to produce enough milk, the baby may experience slow weight gain or even malnourishment. This can lead to health complications for the baby, but most of the time can be remedied by supplementing with donor milk or formula.

In addition to the physical challenges, low milk supply can also take a toll on a mother’s mental health. The stress and pressure of trying to produce enough milk can cause feelings of guilt, anxiety, and inadequacy. Mothers may also feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and even hopeless, especially when they’ve tried all the recommended strategies to increase milk supply, such as increasing frequency of nursing or using breast pumps. It can also lead to post partum depression or anxiety.

Low milk supply can also interfere with bonding between the mother and baby. Breastfeeding is a special and intimate experience that allows for skin-to-skin contact and promotes the release of bonding hormones. When low milk supply prevents successful breastfeeding, mothers may feel like they are missing out on this essential connection with their baby. This is especially true if the mother is pumping frequently, as it takes time being away from hands on with baby.

Finally, low milk supply can also impact the mother’s decision to continue breastfeeding. If the struggles continue for an extended period, some mothers may feel discouraged and choose to switch to formula feeding. This decision can also trigger feelings of guilt or shame, which can further worsen the mother’s mental health. Even though there is help out there for mothers, sometimes it is not easy to reach out for it.

Low milk supply can be a significant challenge for new mothers, affecting not only their baby’s health but also their mental and emotional well-being. Mothers should seek support from lactation consultants, peer groups, and healthcare providers to navigate this challenge and find the best solution for their unique circumstances. There are local branches of the LLL internationally, and can be a great resource to mothers. A wonderful and knowledgeable lactation consultant can do wonders for the mother and baby.

…And There’s A New One

There have been many changes in the past few years. Not just the pandemic and the craziness that came with that; but also here in our little world. My (Alice) grandmother passed away in December of 2018 and my mother passed away in January of 2019. That was a really hard year.

But, as life kept going, kids went to school, pandemic started. That was a time to reflect, time to place boundaries in life, time to put myself and my mental health first. Kids couldn’t go to school, Bob worked 70-80 hours a week regularly, it was tough. That was a really hard year too.

In 2021, we tried to get life back up and going, went up north with the kids, swam in Lake Huron, fished, kayaked, camp fires, all the fun summer things. And a positive pregnancy test.

Pregnancy flew by, kids were excited to meet their new sibling. He was born on January 25th, 2022. My mom passed away January 24th, 2019. Coincidence? Or a beautiful gift from my mom that I miss more than I could ever put into words?

Photograph of a newborn infant laying on muslin blanket in a hat and outfit.

Why Sensory Chewing?

You know how life just goes on, it doesn’t wait if you’re falling behind? Yea? Ok, that’s been my life for the past few months. But, we’re not here to talk about parental fatigue, ‘too much to do and not enough time’ syndrome, or just plain tiredness. What I did want to talk about is part of what brought us here and now.

I remember when Dexter was born. My husband was stationed at Fort Campbell, KY, we wanted him to be born in a civilian hospital, so Gateway it was in a nearby town. They took him for a newborn screening and didn’t bring him back for a while. I was getting antsy. I wanted my baby I just birthed. The doctor came in. Looked me in the eyes and said they believe he has Down Syndrome.

Photo of Dexter, diagnosed with Down Syndrome
Dexter, just a few hours old

Many moves across the country, specialists, procedures, tests, therapists and therapies, we fast forward to a year ago. We are told that they suspect autism. More tests, specialists later, we have a diagnosis. So, among other acronyms, our little (big!) guy has a dual diagnosis. All the sensory seeking behaviors really make sense now.

This brings us to us deciding to make sensory and teething jewelry. Dexter is my number one reason for making the sensory and fidget jewelry. He is my first tester and he and his younger brother test the durability (shall we say, quality control?).

Right now, our biggest thing we are working on is with dexter chewing on fingers. We are using the sensory chewing necklace to help with sensory input and chewing on more appropriate items. Since we just recently had these tested at an independent lab, we know for sure they are 100% safe and non toxic. What is great is that we keep on at school and one at home, so he always has one handy.

Having a necklace at the ready that he can chew on when he needs the extra input is better and safer than Dexter chewing on a pen or his fingers. It hangs on his neck and is less likely to touch germy floors or desks or doors or shoes. The break away clasp adds another safety feature: It will break open when it’s pulled. The necklace has also been incorporated in the classroom by the teacher and in our ABA therapy at home.