I am not a health expert, provider, or doctor. I am a mom who has resourcefully sought every avenue of redemption when it comes to breastfeeding and saving my milk supply. I failed breastfeeding…but I did not fail my babies.
My first child, Arianna, was born February 2009. I KNEW I wanted to breastfeed because I had been a huge advocate for real food. Nothing comes closer to real food for a baby, than breastmilk. I had already started to ease my way into the natural way of living, so breastfeeding just felt right. My daughter was born and I held her to my breast. She nursed hard and her latch was tight. The first 3 months of nursing Arianna, I dealt with blisters, thrush, and one of my nipples completely fell off. Her tight latch made me quiver in pain when she latched on. I dreaded our nursing sessions and had a pillow I would bite to get through it. I had a lot of milk though so I just couldn’t justify giving up. Pumping made my blisters burst open so I avoided it. My lactation consultant looked at my bleeding nipples and told me it was ok to quit. I’ve done my best. I was stubborn and kept nursing my beautiful little girl.
At around the 3-4 month mark, my nipples healed and I had an amazing month of nursing my daughter. Then she started dropping weight. Her Pediatrician told me to keep an eye on it and come back in 2 weeks. She told me if I felt like I needed to supplement, then to not hesitate. I did hesitate….supply and demand right? I started supplements to increase my supply. I started eating oatmeal. I started pumping every 2 hours in the night. I took my daughter back after those 2 weeks. She dropped almost a pound. I cried. I failed. I couldn’t do the most primal thing we are supposed to do as mothers. I had to supplement with formula. That was all I knew and was told by our Pediatrician. Arianna eventually grew fond of the bottle loaded with milk and started slapping my breast away. I failed and at 6 months my daughter was 100% formula fed.
Two years later on July 22, 2011, my son Frankie was born beautifully and naturally into this world. I chose a natural birth to increase my success at breastfeeding. He nursed GREAT from the start. Then about a month in, I developed Mastitis in both breasts. I nursed through it. Another month went by and I developed it again in both breasts. I nursed through it again in pain. Then the phone call came…
My sister Dinah, who was 2 years younger than me, had tragically lost her boyfriend in a car accident. I drove to be with her. She was always my best friend….we were very close. As I shared her grief with her I continued to nurse my son, take my antibiotics to combat the Mastitis, and try to push through the pain of it all. My sister became overwhelmed with her grief and loss of her boyfriend, snuck away, and made the ultimate decision to take her own life.
I felt like I had failed my sister. I failed my daughter. And I was, slowly, failing my son.
No too long after we discovered what my sister had done, my son was hungry. He was 2 months old at the time. I held him to my breast and NOTHING came out. My supply had immediately tanked. The tragic death of my sister had taken the last bit of hope I had in breastfeeding. I tried everything to save it. I was back on the supplements, oatmeal, and pumping. I was grieving the loss of my sister and the loss of my milk supply at the same time. My son lost weight and my husband pleaded with me to end it. I felt like, once again, I failed at breastfeeding.
I have learned a lot during the time of being a mother, being around other mothers, and being in a community of women. There are other options when breastfeeding is impossible. But, seldom, you hear these options talked about. I want to share with you what I have learned. These real food solutions may show you that there is another way than formula.
Real Food Solutions to Nourish Your Baby
1. My quick option, which is what I needed at the time, was to get my son on the best formula, Baby’s Only. Baby’s Only is the one that is recommended by the trustworthy, Weston A. Price Foundation if you are in a crunch. I ordered it from Amazon and prayed this would work. However, it didn’t work. Many have great success with this formula, but my son, was intolerable to it. We learned that my son was intolerable to any form of dairy formula.
2. My next course of action was to attempt to make a homemade Baby (Cow or Goat) Formula. There is a great recipe for a homemade Cow’s Milk Formula (can purchase the ingredients for this homemade formula in a bundle from here (I found them cheaper on Amazon though)but with my son’s reaction to the dairy in formula, I wanted to stay away from any dairy. So, I grabbed my Nourishing Tradition’s cookbook and checked to see how I could make a Goat’s Milk Formula. I did a little research online and found this awesome recipe that is adapted from Nourishing Tradition’s recipe. I could not find a local source for RAW goat’s milk, so I ordered the powdered Meyenberg goat milk. My son was on this formula for a few weeks. He did really good on it. He tolerated it MUCH better than the Baby’s Only and it was not that hard to make. I included the links for all the recommended brands from the Weston A. Price foundation.
Raw Goat Milk Formula 36 ounces:
Disclaimer: It must be said that you should consult your health care practitioner for any and all infant feeding questions, and be certain that you have taken all measures in order to increase your breast milk supply if in fact you are supplementing for lack of milk as I was. Since I had thoroughly exhausted my efforts at increasing supply, I sought the most high-quality alternative . Also, make sure to get a supply of goat milk from a farmer you can trust. If you must use pasteurized goat milk, you can do so as well.
2 cups raw goat milk (Why raw? Raw milk provides numerous enzymes, and allows the proteins to stay in tact while pasteurization renders them denatured. While raw milk will give optimal nutrition, it is my opinion that pasteurized and even powdered goats milk may be preferable, in some cases, to cow’s milk for children with extreme sensitivities.) I used the Meyenberg Powdered Goat Milk.
2 cups filtered water (As the child grow, you should adjust this water-to-goat milk ratio by increasing the amount of goat milk and decreasing the amount of water. This can begin gradually at about 9 months. If stools become more difficult for the child to pass, then increase the amount of water and try again in another month).
1/4 cup liquid whey from goat yogurt or kefir (contains lots of good probiotics and is very nourishing; making it more like breast milk. To get whey simply strain goat milk yogurt. (I get a lot of questions about the whey. You can also make it by straining plain cow milk yogurt, as long as there is no severe intolerance. Some people omit the whey, but I think it’s very important)
1 -2 tsp organic blackstrap molassas (start with less, add more if needed. This provides B-vitamins, iron, trace minerals, and helped relieve constipation.) (If stools are too loose, decrease amount!)
2 tsp Grade B Maple Syrup (adds carbs, necessary for brain growth)
1/4 tsp of bifodobacterium infantis
1/2 tsp high-vitamin cod liver oil
1 tsp unrefined sunflower oil for Vitamin E
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil for monosaturated fats
2 tsp virgin coconut oil (this is very important, as it contains lauric acid which is a medium-chain fatty acid. It’s an important antiviral, antifungal that’s found in breast milk)
2 tsp nutritional yeast (this is also very important as it contains the B vitamins.
1/4 teaspoon NOW acerola powder
***Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Pour into individual glass bottles or one large. To warm, place in a pan of simmering water. Never use a microwave. This formula is best made daily to preserve freshness and to optimize nutrition.***
3. The last option that I stumbled upon was using donated breastmilk to feed my son. After talking it over with my husband, praying about it, and researching, we decided that donated breastmilk was the best option for our son. We would take precautions when choosing our donors, but the risk of feeding our son commercial formula was higher than feeding our son nourishing breastmilk. I started sharing my story and the world started sharing it. Mothers from ALL over the world came to my rescue. I, seriously, had enough breastmilk to last my son till he was 15 months old!!! My son was on donated breastmilk for a year! There was a few times that we couldn’t find a donor, and in that situation, we whipped up a batch of homemade goat’s milk formula. But, the majority of the time, we had an abundance of it. In this post I share my story and plea for breastmilk. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of how many mother’s selflessly gave me their precious milk to feed my son.
If you are interested in this option, here are a few places you can look into to finding local donating mothers:
A. Human Milk 4 Human Babies – each state has a Facebook page, so find your state and read the board to see if any mothers are looking to donate.
B.Eats on Feets – this is another Facebook page. So, find your state.
C. Milk Share – a small donation is required. I had more success with Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets…but this one is worth looking into if you are in need.
Every circumstance is different. Mine may look more extreme than yours. However, EVERY baby deserves the best. With all the formula recalls, and even a peak at commercial formula ingredients, you may want to choose something that is healthier and less processed for your baby.
Loosing my milk supply was devastating. It makes you feel so inadequate as a mother. Please don’t beat yourself up about it. We all do the best we can for our families. I pray that by sharing these 3 real food alternatives, you will research them more and then choose the best option for your baby. Also, be sure to reach out to your local La Leche League for assistance with nursing before giving it up. There are some great supplements out there that may give your milk supply the boost that it needs and the leaders are trained to help you with your breastfeeding experience.
And, please, if you didn’t read my latest post called, “I’m Not Perfect but I am Enough“ go read it! You are enough for your babies! In the words of a friend who made me cry this week, when I look at both my babies, I do not see a child who is lacking. They are healthy and full of love and life!