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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.

Breast or Formula? Do I really have to choose?

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Life is like a giant flow chart. Every minute of every day, you’re making decisions, whether you realize it or not – surprisingly it adds up to about 35,000 decisions a day!

Bath or shower?

Turn left or right?

Chicken or fish?

There are some things in life we feel so strongly about, we make a choice once and that’s it. For example, many decades ago you probably decided if you were a Republican or a Democrat, and you probably haven’t looked back.

Fortunately, other choices in life aren’t so definite. For example, no one minds if you bag your groceries in paper one day and use plastic the next.

In parenting, some moms feel tremendous pressure to choose between breastfeeding or formula feeding. My experience is a great example of how this doesn’t have to be a defining moment. It doesn’t have to be a limiting choice. It’s perfectly fine—better even—to choose both.

I got the best of both worlds by breastfeeding and formula feeding with all three of my sons, and I would not change that experience for the world! For all three of my kids, I started nursing. But early on, I supplemented with formula. I found this to be beneficial for two main reasons.

One, my husband could also feed our babies. This was incredibly valuable for me, and it was also a very positive experience for him and for our sons. And I’m not alone, in fact, 35 percent of moms chose to feed their baby with infant formula so they could share the feeding responsibilities for baby with their partner, per a survey conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand infant formula.

Two, adding formula helped me to transition back to work. Before my sons were born, I had bought a breast pump, and I worried a lot about how I was going to pump at work. Turns out I didn’t anticipate everything I could have. The first day I returned to work, I pumped—in the teeny supply closet they offered me. I put my pumped milk in a sealed container in the office refrigerator.

Imagine my surprise when the office administrator told me I had to move it to the biohazard refrigerator instead because milk was a body fluid. She wanted me to put my baby’s milk in with the throat cultures and stool samples!

I found that supplementing with formula meant that I no longer had to pump at work. That convenience factor helped simplify one aspect of my otherwise chaotic life. For many working moms, “convenience” is the number one factor for choosing to feed baby with infant formula. I nursed my sons at home before and after work, and then they drank formula during the day.

This flexibility helped me, and it also helped my babies as well. My sons thrived on the seamless combo of breastfeeding and formula feeding.

If you decide to combo feed and you receive formula samples at the hospital, rest easy knowing that you can switch from the nationally advertised brand to a less expensive, nutritionally comparable store brand formula when you return home with baby.  In fact, a clinical study by University of Virginia researchers found that switching from one brand of formula to another is safe and well tolerated in infants.

In the study, babies who switched from a big-name milk-based formula to a store brand milk-based formula didn’t experience an increase in spit up, burping, gas, crying or irritability compared to babies who stayed with the advertised brand. No matter what you decide – breastfeeding, formula feeding, or supplementing with formula – please know that all three or a combination of these options will support your baby’s healthy growth and development.

 

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 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.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit storebrandformula.com.

No, Formula Doesn’t Need Warming!

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under J.Bright

Mother Feeding Her Baby ca. October 2000

And 5 other baby formula myths—debunked

By Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

The MythBusters on TV’s Discovery channel tackled hundreds—if not thousands—of myths in their 19 seasons on the air. If they talked about infant feeding, I must have missed that episode. Yet baby feeding has many pervasive myths—especially about infant formula. Here are five of my favorites.

Myth 1: Breast is best.

Fact: Not for every mother and baby. Baby formulas are a completely acceptable, doctor-approved, and time-tested option when feeding baby. Breastfeeding is hard. It seems like it should be natural easy, but so often it isn’t. A recent study conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals found that more than half of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby with low breast milk supply being the top concern. Additionally, while only 18 percent of new moms expect to introduce infant formula to baby during the first three days of life, in reality, 45 percent relied on infant formula during those first days. If you experience breastfeeding challenges, look to formula as an ally – it can be used as a supplement while breastfeeding to provide some relief or used exclusively depending on mom and baby’s needs. Also, know that you can find help and support. Consider talking with a friend who has nursed her babies, your pediatrician, a lactation consultant, or a local La Leche League.

Myth 2: You have to sterilize your baby’s bottles.

Fact: No. This is another time-saver for you! You should sterilize new bottles and nipples before you use them for the first time. Simply put them in boiling water for 5 minutes. After that first time, however, you probably don’t need to sterilize them again.

Instead, you can run bottles and nipples through the dishwasher. Or if you’re “old school,” wash them in hot, soapy water. Rinse them carefully to remove any soap residue.

Myth 3: Babies prefer warm formula.

Fact: Not necessarily. It’s perfectly fine to feed your baby formula at room temperature (as long as it’s freshly prepared), or even a little cool from the refrigerator. Your baby is most likely to prefer his or her formula at a consistent temperature. In other words, if you start warming it you’ll probably have to continue warming it.

Here’s an easy way to warm your baby’s bottle: Set the filled bottle in a container of warm water and let it stand for a few minutes. Check the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

Myth 4: Measuring formula isn’t a big deal—just “eyeball it.”

Fact: The instructions for preparing your baby’s formula are important. Follow the directions on the label carefully. If you put too little water in your baby’s formula, it can give baby dehydration or diarrhea. If you put too much water in the formula, you’re watering it down and your baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. It’s critical to measure carefully each and every time.

Myth 5: Brand name formula is best.

Fact: Nationally advertised, brand-name formula and store brand formula are practically identical—but have different effects on your family budget! 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 store brand formula is nutritionally comparable to nationally advertised brands. In fact, store brand formula is clinically proven to support baby’s growth and development and proven to be just as well tolerated by your baby as those other brands.

So, what’s the main difference? Store brand formula costs less because they don’t spend millions of dollars on marketing – think about all the ads you see on TV and all the samples that get handed out in doctors’ offices.  In the case of those big brands, those marketing costs are passed on to you in the form of a higher price tag on each container of formula.

Once you get into the groove of feeding your baby, it will all feel like second nature. And then it will almost be time to give up the bottle!

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 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.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit www.storebrandformula.com.

Total savings with Store Brand Infant Formula calculations based on a price per fl. oz. comparison of Store Brand Infant Formulas and their comparable national brands. Retail prices are from a May 2017 retail price survey of assorted stores. Actual prices and savings may vary by store and location.

 

Feeding Baby the First Year: What Pediatricians Actually Do At Home

April 20, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

Mother Feeding BabyIt’s one of the great ironies of parenting: feeding your baby.  Something that should be so simple, so often isn’t. In fact, deciding how to feed your baby in the first year may appear, at first glance, to be one of the great divides of parenting. Many parents think that you  must choose between breastfeeding OR formula feeding, but that’s simply not true.

Think of it as a continuum with exclusively breastfeeding on one end and exclusively bottle-feeding with formula on the other with a wide range of combinations in between.  It may be surprising to learn that most babies fall within the latter, with parents choosing to do a combination of both.

Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand infant formula, recently conducted a nationwide survey of 2,000 moms with children between the ages of one and three to gain insight into mom’s thoughts on baby’s first year. Interestingly, the survey found that although three out of four moms said they used infant formula during baby’s first year, one out of 10 new moms weren’t completely honest about breastfeeding baby to avoid criticism from family and friends. As parents, we face many pressures each day.  We talked to some of our Mommy MD Guides—doctors who are also mothers— to share some of their own personal feeding experiences. What we learned? It’s a personal decision and there’s no right or wrong choice. Here’s what they had to say…

“I had really set out to breastfeed my son. But from the very beginning, breastfeeding was very challenging,” said Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a pediatrician and mom of two, in Seattle. “It was extremely emotional for me; on some level it was even devastating. When my son was a few weeks old, I got such severe mastitis that I was hospitalized. After I went home, I continued to pump for several months. It was pure misery for me. The moment both my son and I started to thrive was when I finally stopped and switched to formula”

“Although I nursed both of my daughters for their first six or seven months, I found it helpful not to be rigid with only breast milk,” said Darlene Gaynor-Krupnick, DO, urologist and mom of two in northern Virginia. “Formula was heavier, and my daughters seemed to sleep better when they were ‘topped off’ with a bottle before bedtime.”

“I breastfed and gave my babies formula as a supplement early on and switched to formula all the way by 4 months,“ says Sigrid Payne DaVeiga, MD, a pediatric allergist and mom of three,  in Philadelphia, PA.

“I had planned to breastfeed for the first six months, but unfortunately I was only able to breastfeed for approximately four months,” said Kathleen Moline, DO, a family physician and mom of one in Winfield, IL. “Pumping at work was challenging, and eventually my daughter preferred bottles to breastfeeding. Part of the learning process was that what I had planned or expected wasn’t always the way it worked out, and that was okay.”

“I breastfed my son, but to give myself more flexibility time-wise, I pumped often,” said Leigh Andrea DeLair, MD, a family physician and mom of one in Danville, KY. “I also supplemented my son’s diet with formula. He thrived.”

At the end of the day, choosing how to feed your baby is a great microcosm for the parenting experience in general: You do the best that you can, you learn as you go, and flexibility is the key. You—and your baby—will be happier and healthier if every now and then you have a tincture of patience and a cup of calm, two of the best medicines.

About the author: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a family physician and mom of three sons in Lexington, KY. She’s the co-author of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, from where these tips were excerpted.

About the survey: Perrigo Nutritionals, the makers of store brand formula, conducted the survey in February of 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.  Margin of error is +/- 3 percent. To learn more about store brand formula or to discover special promotions or offers, visit storebrandformula.com.

 


The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.