I wish someone would’ve told me how hard breastfeeding really was. You see your friends who are new moms feeding their babies make it look so easy. But no one tells you how hard it really is. I think there’s this pressure around the subject of breastfeeding, and that those who do it are the best moms, but that’s not true. Our journey started on day one in the hospital when Jupiter was having trouble latching.
I probably should’ve taken that as a hint, but instead I kept on trying, even though I could tell Jupiter was frustrated. This made me upset because I just wanted to have a good experience with feeding her for the first time. Now, let’s cut to day four of me pumping milk. At this point, I was so over trying to figure out the latch and was giving her breast milk by the bottle. Thankfully, she LOVED the bottle. That was the moment I realized that maybe breastfeeding isn’t meant for us. I pumped all day, and never looked forward to pumping. I would look at the pump like it held me back from really being in the moment with Juju and enjoying my first weeks of motherhood. At that point, I turned to my husband and said “ I feel like we’re striving and not thriving with this breast milk situation.” I was determined to make it work, but all I truly cared about was Jupiter having a good experience with feeding and getting the best nutrition.
So, that’s when I decided to turn to formula. The thing about formula is that you still have that same special moment with your baby that you do with breastfeeding. You’re still looking into your baby’s eyes, whether it’s with your breast or a bottle. I know it’s super popular right now to post an Instagram picture of you breastfeeding, but what about the other moms who don’t have that experience? The moms who try it, and it just doesn’t work out?
If I wasn’t going to breastfeed, I wanted to make sure Jupiter was getting the best nutrition from her formula in her early, formative months. After Chris and I did a ton of research on the important ingredients she needed to support her brain development and immune health, we started feeding her Enspire, the closest formula to breast milk. What set Enspire apart from the rest was an ingredient called ‘lactoferrin’, it’s a protein also found in breast milk that no other formula currently has added as an ingredient. It gave me peace of mind when I saw it has 5 nutrient benefits that help baby reach her key milestones and the same average amount of omega-3 DHA found in breast milk, which supports brain and eye development. I felt great knowing that there was another option out there for us. And Jupiter loves it, which makes me the happiest! So, it might not have been an easy ride from the start, but I’m glad we found something that’s trusted and works for us!
After going through my own struggles with breastfeeding, I wanted to learn more about the science behind transitioning to formula. I spoke to Alayne Gatto, registered dietitian, certified lactation counselor, and Medical Science Liaison with Enfamil, about the details moms may not know when considering the transition: What to do, what to research, when to transition, and how it affects both mom and baby.
Q&A with Alayne Gatto, Medical Science Liaison at Enfamil
What do you do when breastfeeding doesn’t work for you? What are the options?
Choosing to breastfeed is ultimately a personal choice and I encourage parents to do what works best for them. Breastfeeding can be difficult or not possible for some parents and it can also be something parents choose not to do. There are several options parents can pursue if they are no longer breastfeeding such as milk donors or formula.
If you are electing to use formula, it is important to research what will work best for you and baby. Infant formula brands, like Enfamil, provide trusted nutrition to fuel wonder every step of the way. Enfamil also offers other options for your baby’s needs, if your baby is gassy or tends to cry a lot, they might need a gentle formula, like Enspire Gentlease, which is designed to ease discomfort in less than 24 hours. As you start your research, you’ll find that there are several options for you out there to meet your and your baby’s needs.
What ingredients should parents look for in formula?
The brain, body, and immune system are rapidly developing, it is important to research different options and look for ingredients that help support your baby’s development. Enfamil’s portfolio of infant formula includes key ingredients to support cognitive development, immune health, and overall well-being. I recommend Enspire, Enfamil’s closest formula to breast milk, which offers 5 important nutrient benefits that support the overall health and development of baby, including immune-supporting lactoferrin added as an ingredient, a global expert-recommended amount of brain-building omega-3 DHA, and dual prebiotics for gut health.
How or when should parents’ transition to formula?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to feeding your baby and I will always encourage parents to do what works best for them. As I mentioned before, breastfeeding can be difficult or not possible for some parents or they may simply choose not to do it. This can be for various reasons, including limited milk volumes, medical conditions, work obligations, or personal choice.
When you transition to using formula, replace breastfeeding with a bottle. It’s best to wait 3-4 weeks before introducing the bottle and by then, you’ll likely have a feeding pattern and solid milk supply. Also, if your baby needs to be fully bottle-fed by a certain time, you’ll want to start about a month before then. This can help them adjust to bottles. It also helps ease breast engorgement for you, which might happen if you stop breastfeeding too quickly.
How does this transition affect both mom and baby?
Gradually transitioning to formula can make it easier for both mom and baby. As you start to bottle-feed, mom can take advantage of a more flexible schedule to create special moments together. It’s completely normal to feel emotional about switching to formula. Although mothers may worry about losing that bond with the baby, they should remember that they can always create other moments to bond like singing to them or skin-on-skin contact, holding your baby close; there are endless possibilities for one-on-one time.