Every mama wants to do what is right for their child, and none likes being told they’re doing it wrong. These desires pour fuel on the fire of the debate about breastfeeding; a debate that goes further back than you may think. Back in the Middle Ages, breastfeeding started to become the “poor woman’s” way, while the rich would hire wet nurses to do the breastfeeding for them. This debate shows up differently in the modern age, but it hasn’t gone away. Think about those cute, brightly-colored diaper bags given to new moms in the hospital. What are they filled with? What labeling is all over them? Those are “gifts” from formula companies.

Breastfeeding is the best choice, health-wise, for both Baby and Momma. That’s not to say the benefits of formula aren’t there–they’re just not worth the health concerns when they can easily be addressed by other options.

The Benefits of Breast Milk

Breastfeeding has health benefits for both Momma and Baby. The NIH has the following to say about it:

“Human milk is considered as the gold standard for infant feeding. Breastfeeding advantages extend beyond the properties of human milk itself. A complex of nutritional, environmental, socioeconomic, psychological as well as genetic interactions establish a massive list of benefits of breastfeeding to the health outcomes of the breastfed infant and to the breastfeeding mother.”

The CDC also quotes breastfeeding as lowering a Baby’s susceptibility to the following:

  • Asthma.

  • Obesity.

  • Type 1 diabetes.

  • Severe lower respiratory disease.

  • Acute otitis media (ear infections).

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

  • Gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting).

The American Academy of Pediatrics also says that breastfeeding benefits Momma in the following ways:

  • Mothers who breastfeed recover from childbirth more quickly and easily. The hormone oxytocin, released during breastfeeding, acts to return the uterus to its regular size more quickly and can reduce postpartum bleeding.

  • Studies show that women who have breastfed experience reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancer later in life.

  • Some studies have found that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

  • Exclusive breastfeeding delays the return of the mother’s menstrual period, which can help extend the time between pregnancies.

Beyond these benefits, nursing initiates skin-to-skin contact. It isn’t hard to find the benefits of skin-to-skin contact these days. While skin-to-skin contact is often thought of as taking place just within the hours after birth, the benefits don’t stop there. Cuddling and snuggling continues to benefit children well past infancy.

HCAVA Physicians gives the following as benefits of skin-to-skin contact:

  • earlier and stronger signs of attention and exploration

  • better temperature regulation

  • Immune system boost

  • Better pain management

  • Stronger bonding

What’s the Formula for Formula?

Most formulas have a base of highly processed milk or soy at a time when Baby’s stomach and gut aren’t ready for them. Because Baby’s body cannot handle these ingredients, the formula can cause either inflammation or allergies. Inflammation is the source of just about every ailment in the human body, including aches and pains, gassy tummy, brain fog, and several other symptoms of hidden inflammation. Allergies, too, have several symptoms many of us don’t think to link together.

Formula Seems To Save Time

Formula comes in an easy package; just add the handy scoop and water. A couple minutes later, after warming to the appropriate temperature, you’re feeding the baby and able to continue on with the day.

Alternative, healthier options:

Breastfeeding

Picking Baby up and positioning them to eat is a far quicker process than all the effort that goes into warming up a bottle. If you’re looking to save time with those late-night feedings, breastfeeding is the faster way to get everybody back to bed. You also don’t have to wash as much equipment with breastfeeding as with preparing formula.

Formula Seems More Accessible

Formula can be given to Baby by people other than Momma, which often makes it seem far more convenient. If Momma has a meeting or has to go to work, the formula can be left with the sitter whether that’s the father, grandma, a sibling, or hired help.

If you run out of formula, you can just run to the store and get more, and if you have too much, it can easily be stored. Be sure to follow instructions for storage once formula has been mixed.

Alternative, healthier options:

Pumping

If Momma pumps some milk into a bottle ahead of time, it’s just as easy to feed the baby as if it were formula. This is the healthier option because, while neither Baby nor Momma get all the health benefits, Baby does still get many. Baby also avoids potential allergies. Breastmilk can be frozen for later if Momma produces more than needed for the time.

Breastmilk Banks

If Momma produces more milk than baby consumes, the extra can be sold or donated to breastmilk banks. If Momma doesn’t produce enough milk to pump and save, she can get more from those same breastmilk banks. Be cautious with these, though. Just as it’s important to do research about things like allergies and the dirty dozen momma may consume, it’s important to look into the quality of the breastmilk you’re getting for Baby. Search online and in local social media groups for more information.

Formula Can Seem Like the Only Option, Sometimes

What happens if Baby can’t or won’t latch on? How can you breastfeed, then? Formula and bottles are the only option in that case, right?

No.

Women have been having babies since time began. There have always been challenges, and we’ve been around long enough to find solutions.

Alternative, healthier options:

Pumping and Skin-to-skin contact, with the option of breastmilk banks if needed

While pumping doesn’t give all the benefits of breastfeeding, it gives more of them than formula, and you can supplement with skin-to-skin contact.

Lactation Consultant

If you’re really having troubles getting Baby to breastfeed, talk to a lactation consultant.

Baby’s Not Happy With the Way Things are Going

Maybe Baby has a gassy tummy, won’t poop, or is fussy all the time. Maybe Baby will only nurse from one side, or it doesn’t seem like Baby is getting enough. Whatever the clues, if Baby isn’t happy with the current way things are happening, or won’t cooperate, sometimes it seems like there’s no other choice but to switch it up and go with formula.

Alternative, healthier options:

More snuggle time

Baby may just need quality time with Momma. Try to set some more time in the day aside for snuggles and kisses and skin-to-skin contact.

Get Baby Adjusted

Birth is hard on both Baby and Momma. It doesn’t take much to push something out of alignment, and birth is a lot. Something may be out of alignment and causing Baby pain, or dysfunction. When you get Baby adjusted, there’ll often be a big diaper blowout soon afterward from stress released. See our advice on how to handle diaper and lotion situations here.

Get Momma’s Allergies Tested

There are many symptoms of allergies and inflammation that we don’t connect to their source right away. If Momma is eating allergens, that can come through in the milk and affect Baby. Get Momma’s allergies tested and cut those from her diet. While you wait for the results, cut things like sugar, gluten, and dairy out. Be mindful of these foods which are naturally inflammatory. Consider eating clean foods and buying organic. Consult the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen list for more information.

It Hurts

Just because something is ‘more healthy,’ doesn’t mean it feels good, and breastfeeding is no exception. Momma’s breasts, shoulders, neck, and spine can all hurt from breastfeeding, which makes Momma not nearly as eager to do it. Sometimes formula can be tempting simply due to the physical relief for Momma. Sometimes, simply staying awake hurts due to chronic fatigue, and the idea of being able to hand feeding off seems like bliss.

Alternative, healthier options:

Get Momma Adjusted

If Momma is hunched over all the time, that puts stress on joints and muscles. The body is like a Swiss Watch–if one part is out of alignment, it messes with every other part. The symptoms Momma feels–the aches and pains in specific areas–may not mean that’s the part that’s out of alignment. If the body has to work harder to keep everything functioning, the fatigue may also be a sign that something is out of homeostasis. Get a chiropractic adjustment, and consider the postures and positions of nursing.

Take it Easy, Momma

It can be easy and tempting to think that, once Baby has been born, the process of growing a human being slows down and becomes easier. This is not the case. Baby is on the outside, now, yes, but that doesn’t mean Momma is done actively growing a human being. The benefits of Baby being on the outside, though, are that Daddy and other relatives can help. Give Momma some time to sit, to relax, to slow down and rest. Feeding Baby is not the only area others can help. Play with Baby, wash dishes, fold laundry. Let Momma take some time to rest.

Momma Isn’t Producing As Much as Baby Wants

Breastmilk Banks

Do research as to where the milk is coming from, and buy some breastmilk to feed Baby, if the need arises.

Get Momma’s Allergies Tested

Just like we described above, Momma’s reaction to allergies can impact her milk. Sometimes it comes through in the milk, other times it hinders milk production. Get Momma’s allergies tested. Taking care of others frequently starts with taking care of yourself.

Get Momma Adjusted

If something is out of alignment for Momma, her body is likely focusing on that problem, which means there’s less energy and capability going toward milk production. Just because gear A is out of alignment in the Swiss Watch doesn’t mean that’s where the symptoms will show themselves. Get Momma adjusted and in better alignment so her body can function properly.

Nutrition Support

The human body can only function to the level of quality of the food that’s put into it. If the body is receiving foods that help it function, it will do so far better than if it’s being fed food that doesn’t help it function. Get Momma’s allergies tested to diminish inflammation. Stay away from things like sugar, dairy, GMOs, and the dirty dozen. Set Momma’s body up for success to help it perform its best.

We all know the saying “nothing good ever comes easy,” and that’s true of the journey to motherhood as much as anything. To get Momma or Baby adjusted, Momma’s allergies tested, and help in nutrition support, contact a Wellness Way clinic today. It’s never too early to start the journey to wellness; don’t wait until it’s too late.