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My Feeding Prescription

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

One day, I entered an exam room to find a new mom quietly sobbing into a tissue as she held her newborn baby. I sat down next to the mom, and we began to talk about her difficulty breastfeeding. The new mom tearfully told me that latching on was a challenge, and her milk supply was suffering.

The mom had expected breast feeding to be natural and easy. But even after lactation consultants and multiple doctor visits, she felt frustrated, guilty, and pressured. She felt tons of pressure—from her family and even from her husband to make breastfeeding work and not to supplement.

As she cried, I knew that I was observing the culmination of so many tumultuous emotions and deeply entrenched expectations. Reality was not meeting expectations.

I offered the mom reassurance. I explained that we mothers are told that breast is best and natural. But it doesn’t always come easy!

After I could tell the mom felt a bit unconvinced, I moved on to finding a solution. I’ve learned in my practice that in cases like this, the best thing to do is what works.

I knew that if this mom needed to supplement with infant formula while we worked on increasing her supply then that’s what would be best for her and the baby.

I gently explained this to her. But still the mom was worried. She agreed that supplementing with infant formula was best for her baby—and for her. But she didn’t believe that her family would accept this advice.

So together, we hatched a plan. I wrote her a prescription to supplement with a bottle—filled with either breast milk or formula.

With relief, and a gentle smile, the mom agreed to give it a try. And out came my prescription pad!

I asked the mom to keep me posted on her progress. She told me that her milk supply steadily increased over the next few weeks. Plus, she said that she felt more confident and relaxed.

The new mom and I even laughed when I told her breast is best, but sometimes a bottle (breast milk or baby formula) can be a girl’s best friend!

Many new moms find breastfeeding to be a challenge. Store brand formula conducted Baby’s First Year[1] survey earlier this year and found more than half of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby, with low breast milk supply being the top concern. The new trend of “fed is best” echoes that whether moms choose to breastfeed, formula-feed, or use some combination of both, parents should feel confident in their decision. In fact, did you know that all infant formulas sold in the United States must meet the same FDA standards and offer complete nutrition for baby? That means even cost-saving store brand formula is nutritionally comparable to nationally advertised brands.

The survey also found that sometimes the pressure for mom to breastfeed is too much. One out of three moms experienced situations where they felt the need to justify to others why they use infant formula to feed baby. Additionally, one out of 10 new moms lied about breastfeeding baby to avoid criticism from family and friends.

The fact is that nowadays three out of four moms use infant formula during their baby’s first year. And that is perfectly ok! Moms need to do what is right for their baby and for themselves.

About the author: Jennifer A Gardner, MD, is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

 

[1] Store brand formula Baby’s First Year survey was conducted between February 13-20, 2017, among 2,000 nationally representative Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently have a child between the ages of one and three, using an email invitation and an online survey.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent.

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