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Does Formula Affect Breast Milk Supply?

January 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

As a pediatrician, I’m frequently asked if formula affects breast milk supply. This is an important question, because nearly half of all mothers who plan to exclusively breast-feed end up supplementing with formula. Plus, a recent survey1 conducted by store brand formula found that three out of four moms use infant formula at some point during baby’s first year. Additionally, 17 percent of moms planned to wait until their baby was six months old to introduce infant-formula feeding; but only four percent made it that long.

So, does baby formula affect breast milk supply?

The answer, simply put, is yes and no.

The good news is that supplementing will not stop milk production, but it could decrease it. Fortunately, there are many approaches a family can take to minimize the risk of decreasing the mother’s breast milk supply.

First, whenever possible, introduce the bottle only after successful breastfeeding has been established. This avoids nipple confusion and helps ensure a healthy supply of breast milk. Since this strategy isn’t always possible, sometimes supplementing is considered earlier because of an inadequate milk supply.

In this case, supplement with formula only as needed. Your goal to maintain adequate milk supply is to empty the breast with each feed. This means breastfeeding as much as possible and pumping when you do bottle-feed. When you pump and add the breast milk to formula, your baby gets the volume and calories he needs, and you get the signal to keep producing milk!

A baby must work harder when breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding. You can use a special nipple that makes the baby work harder so she doesn’t associate bottle-feeding with easier feeding!

In the end, the decision to supplement or when to supplement is a very personal one. You must weigh the benefits of formula with the potential for decreased milk production. The survey also discovered that 35 percent of moms chose to feed their baby with infant formula so they could share the feeding responsibilities for baby with their spouse. While this decision may be difficult, there are no right or wrong decisions. What we know is that all babies do best when the mother is relaxed and confident with feedings. If supplementing with formula reduces your stress level, this may help with breast milk production.

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.

And remember to give yourself credit. I tell my patients that any amount of breast milk is beneficial to your baby. There’s never room for guilt in the feeding relationship.

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.

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.

Preserve Precious Breastmilk

December 4, 2017 by  
Filed under R.McAllister

by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

When my boys were babies, I was determined to breastfeed them. I knew that it would help boost their immunity and protect their teeth from cavities. To be honest, breastfeeding also saved me time and money.

I didn’t have lengthy maternity leaves, and when I went back to work, I wanted to continue to nurse my babies. This meant I had to pump and store my breastmilk.

Any woman who’s pumped will tell you, breastmilk is more precious than gold. It’s a time-consuming process. I was always careful to collect every single drop of that “liquid gold,” pour it into bags, and freeze it for safe keeping.

Then when I was ready to feed my babies, I warmed the breastmilk in bottles in a pan of water on the stove—the conventional method at the time. Little did I know I was overheating and damaging the milk.

Breastmilk is such a complex, amazing substance that it’s sometimes called “miracle milk.” It’s the perfect blend of proteins, essential fats, enzymes, and hormones. It offers nourishment, of course, and it also has antioxidant, antibacterial, prebiotic, probiotic, and immune-boosting properties.

When we feed our babies breast milk via the intended “delivery device”—Mom!—it’s perfectly fresh and at the ideal temperature. But like many other foods, breast milk isn’t shelf stable. If you let it sit out at room temperature, bacteria quickly multiply

Once breast milk is expressed, you should use it, refrigerate it, or freeze it within four hours. This slows the growth of bacteria, protecting and preserving the milk. It’s safe to store breastmilk in the fridge for a few days or in the back of a deep freezer for up to a year. Label each bag with the date so you know which one to use first.

Of course, now that you’ve refrigerated or frozen the milk, you need to warm it back up when you’re ready to feed it to your baby. Babies’ milk preferences are a lot like Goldilock’s choices: They don’t like it too cold or too hot. They like it just right: at body temperature, 98.6° degrees Fahrenheit. If the milk is too cold, it can disrupt your baby’s digestion and contribute to colic. If the milk is too hot, it can burn your baby’s mouth and degrade the nutrients in the milk.

When you warm breastmilk, it’s important to warm the milk evenly. A new breast milk bottle by nanobebe (link) has a concave shape bio-medically engineered to spread the milk into a thin layer, which warms at faster rates to protect nutrient damage while providing quick access to nutrition when baby is hungry.

Once the milk is warm, test the temperature by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist. Then sit back, hold your baby in your arms, and enjoy one of the most beautiful, rewarding experiences that life has to offer—feeding your baby.

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


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.