"Hold your baby's hand instead of a bottle"

The WINNERS for the ItzBeen have been announced! Check back later for the next giveaway!

Monday, February 28, 2011

ItzBeen Winners - that's right TWO giveaways!

Congratulations to Kelly from North Carolina and Rebecca from Virginia! Both of you have been selected from the previous Itzbeen Giveaway to receive a FREE Itzbeen!

I was so excited to receive so many submissions for the last giveaway that I convinced my husband to support the readers of this blog allow me to buy and give away TWO Itzbeens since so many of you are in need of one!

I will be shipping them out later today or tomorrow! Congratulations and best of luck with your pregnancies! Thank you for your support and for reading this blog! I hope you all continue to find it helpful.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tax Deduction for Breastpumps and Supplies!

"Good news during tax time! The IRS has added breast pumps and other breastfeeding supplies to the list of items that can be designated as medical expenses for purposes of tax deduction. They now also will be considered an allowable expense for people who have Flexible Spending Accounts, Medical Savings Accounts and Health Savings accounts. 

In the past, the IRS did not consider breast pumps a medical expense, but the Service has now changed its policy.  This is a very positive step for both women and children.  The cost of breastfeeding supplies was a barrier to breastfeeding for many mothers and the decision of the IRS to reverse its ruling was a great victory for nursing mothers everywhere. 

Breastfeeding has many health benefits including lowering the risk for many medical conditions for infants including asthma, respiratory illness, infections, leukemia, and type 1 diabetes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all children be fed exclusively breastmilk for six months, with continued breastfeeding and appropriate solids for at least one year.  The World Health Organization recommends continuing breastfeeding at least two years.

The March of Dimes is very pleased that breast pumps and medical supplies that assist lactation will now be regarded as a medical expense.  This change in policy was needed and long overdue. It will benefit all women, especially women in the workplace who want to breastfeed their babies."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Breastfeeding Dolls Nature's Way?

When I was 16 years old I remember watching a video where a doctor and scientist discussed how there are over 10,000 vitamins and minerals in a single apple. We've only started to identify and document a few of those vitamins and their function. Clearly, it's more beneficial to eat an apple with over 10,000 natural vitamins that are perfectly balanced so that our body can absorb them, compared to swallowing a capsule with 20 or so vitamins and minerals which are usually in such high levels that most of them can't be absorbed. The point is, nature's product - the apple for example - is perfectly balanced and the best way to get those nutrients. Check out this chart that compiles only SOME of the known  vitamins / minerals/ hormones/ growth factors/ enzymes / live agents that have been discovered in breastmilk.

When it comes to chosing to eat an apple over swallowing a pill, the same theory is true for human breast milk. It's the perfectly proportioned diet for a human baby. It's how nature intended for a baby to be nurished. As a society, we've come to accept bottles and formula as the natural method to feeding babies, again, not bashing formula and bottles (I understand some of you have had to use or currently are using this alternative form of food) but this isn't how babies are suppose to be fed.

Interestingly enough, a toy company in Spain wanting to promote breastfeeding has created a baby that comes with a pretend nursing bra instead of a bottle. According to the link below, a child would wear this bra, hold the crying baby to a flower area on her pretend nursing bra and the baby makes a sucking sound.

Bye-Bye Bottle: Breastfeeding Baby Dolls Are Here!
Honestly, I was a little creeped out by the concept and some of the reviewers felt similarly. On the other hand, I think it's great that not all babies come with a bottle. A few of the moms who commented discussed how children learn from watching their parents, and the mothers who breastfeed didn't go out of their way to teach their child how to breastfeed, but found their child tucking their dolls or stuffed animals under their shirts. I think growing up around a nursing mother and having support from family to breastfeed is all we need in order to change the way our children's generation will understand how to feed their own babies.

On a personal note, one of my "breast friends" from NC had a 3 year old little girl when she had her second baby girl. Her 3 year old was very curious about not just watching her mommy breastfeed, but watching how I breastfed my son as well. I remember asking her mom when it came time to nurse my son, "Do you want me to go into another room?" and she answered, "Not unless you want privacy. I'm not shielding my daughter from how to feed a baby. I want her to know this is how it's done." At first it was a little uncomfortable to have someone elses little child approach me and watch me feed my first born, but then I understood how to the little girl, this wasn't something sexual or inappropriate. She'd watched her mother nurse so this was normal. My sister in law told me that her two daughters pretend to nurse their baby dolls after watching their mother nurse their baby brother. I think that's the perfect way to introduce and teach children about breastfeeding babies. Whenever I'm nursing my second son around my neice she is always curious to ask me if I'm feeding the baby and if he will go to sleep when he's done.

I don't think teaching children how to breastfeed is something that should be mandated in school or anything, but if you happen to have small children and are breastfeeding, I don't think there's anything wrong with explaining to a curious child that you are feeding the baby. If they get real close (as my neice tends to) know that you are demonstrating something that is natural, more natural than if you were to show a child how to bottle feed. It's not just about exposing your kids or relatives / close friend's children (with the parent's consent - obviously don't go dragging every child you get your hands on to show them how you can breastfeed) but it's important is to create a supportive, positive breastfeeding environment so that our children's generation will have more success then we did, so that they won't end up like the momma gorilla in my previous post (frustrated without any idea of how to nurse and what they are suppose to do with a new baby).  Our children aren't going to grow up learning how to breast feed or even have the desire to breastfeed by buying them a flower patterned bra and a doll. Let us teach our children by example!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Miracle Baby declared dead, revived by mother's touch, voice and BREAST MILK!

For those reading who are already a mother and are expecting again, or for the first time mothers to be, of course you should trust your doctors and follow their instruction, but don't be afraid to speak up if something doesn't feel right to you. The doctors in this story handed a mother her "dead baby" and told her to say her goodbyes, but she felt the need to hold onto him, to talk to him, to bring him close to her chest and love him. When he started to show signs of life the doctors dismissed his movements as reflexes, but she continued to touch him, and even offer him her breast milk. Clearly, she felt the need to do more than simply say goodbye and it paid off!

"'The doctor asked me had we chosen a name for our son,' said Mrs Ogg. 'I said, "Jamie", and he turned around with my son already wrapped up and said, "We've lost Jamie, he didn't make it, sorry." It was the worse feeling I've ever felt. I unwrapped Jamie from his blanket. He was very limp. I took my gown off and arranged him on my chest with his head over my arm and just held him. He wasn't moving at all and we just started talking to him. We told him what his name was and that he had a sister. We told him the things we wanted to do with him throughout his life. Jamie occasionally gasped for air, which doctors said was a reflex action. But then I felt him move as if he were startled, then he started gasping more and more regularly. I gave Jamie some breast milk on my finger, he took it and started regular breathing.'"

The article goes on to say, "In most cases, babies are rushed off to intensive care if there is a serious problem during the birth. But the 'kangaroo care' technique, named after the way kangaroos hold their young in a pouch next to their bodies, allows the mother to act as a human incubator to keep babies warm, stimulated and fed. Pre-term and low birth-weight babies treated with the skin-to-skin method have also been shown to have lower infection rates, less severe illness, improved sleep patterns and are at reduced risk of hypothermia."

When I first read this story I was most curious not about HOW the baby came back to life, but WHY the mother chose to hold her lifeless baby for hours after he was declared dead. We've all heard how babies in orphanages can die from not enough human contact, so it didn't really surprise me that the human touch could sustain life or perhaps even bring a dead baby back to life. Babies thrive from the human touch - that much has been scientifically proven and documented. However, science can't explain how this Australian mother brought her baby back to life, but there are many things science simply can't define or replace - a mother's love, her voice, the sound of her heart, her warmth, smell, including her breast milk. The perfect level of heat radiating from a light bulb with a preheated blanket can't compare to the warmth of mommy's chest. There are some things that we humans can offer our babies that no machine or factory produced item can replace. Breast milk is just one other perfect example of how nature provides a mother with exactly what her baby needs.

I love this story and hope that it will inspire more doctors and hospitals to promote "kangaroo care" before rushing babies off to incubators. Baby Jamie is referred to as a miracle baby, and it was a miracle that he came back to life, but I think we need to give his mother a lot of the credit and acknowledge that without her intuition he probably wouldn't have made it.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1306283/Miracle-premature-baby-declared-dead-doctors-revived-mothers-touch.html#ixzz1DYj7nWuL


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Breast Guest Story: "The Finger Feeding Father"

When I started breastfeeding my first son, a friend in NC told me that if I developed really sore / damaged nipples I should look into "finger feeding." When I asked her what this was, she told me it's a lactation aid that's used when breastfeeding isn't working and that she and her husband had to use it with their first son. I remember being very scared when she first described it. She explained that a tube is placed along the parent's finger which is placed deep inside the baby's mouth and whenever the baby sucks properly you allow milk to flow from the tube connected to a bottle with a syringe like top. My eyes probably gave away my horror at the idea of sticking fingers and tubes into a newborn's mouth, but she said it wasn't as bad as it sounds and to keep it in mind in case it becomes necessary. Luckily, I didn't have to finger feed either of my children and the term quickly faded from my memory - until I came across it in the "Bobbie Bible." Years later, when I started this blog, I contacted her and am beyond thrilled to share her story with you - or should I say her husband's finger feeding story:

     "When I was pregnant I hadn't given much thought to how I was going to feed the baby once he was here. Towards the end of the pregnancy my husband began to express his views on the subject. His mother breastfed him (and his 3 brothers and 2 sisters) and as the eldest sibling he remembers not only his mother but his aunts and other relatives breastfeeding. In fact, he says in his family, there was always one nursing mom at every family function. Breastfeeding was the norm in family. I wasn't exactly opposed to the idea, but I can recall feeling that initial pressure to perform and I didn't like it.

     Baby Andrew (Andy) arrived after a long labor and I was very exhausted. I hadn't done much research on breastfeeding (I read up on all the benefits) but assumed the "doing it part" it would come naturally. It didn't hurt much at first, but the pain quickly began to increase. We left the hospital with the number to a lactation consultant and already had an appointment set up. I was embarrassed and frustrated to need the help, even though my husband didn't seem the least bit upset by my breastfeeding problems. He's always been the calm one, good in emergency situations. I was the first one to freak out so I always thought we complimented each other well.

     The lactation consultant informed us that the baby had developed a poor latch and had caused severe nipple damage. Our son needed to re-learn how to suck properly. She told us that finger feeding was the best way to retrain him. I lost focus when I asked how long we were suppose to do this "re-training" and she said anywhere from a few days to a couple months. I honestly can't remember much of her demonstration and instructions on using the lactation aid, because I was pumped with so many emotions I couldn't think, hear or see straight. I think we had to use some sugar water mixed with pumped colostrum at first because my milk hadn't come in yet. Everything about the situation was unnatural to me and I very much wanted to simply give my baby a bottle and be done with it. I would try and finger feed my baby and then switch him to my breast, only to give up and let my husband finish feeding him. Naturally, he was very involved, and quickly took over the entire finger feeding process (after one feeding where I began to cry and told him this wasn't working for me) and I very much began to resent the obvious bonding time he was having with our baby while I was attached to a pump in the other room. At one point I mocked him, with the bottle of my milk in his shirt pocket while he fed our son through a tube, saying, "It's too bad you don't have breasts and can't do it all on your own!" After he finished finger feeding he placed our sleeping baby in my arms and wrapped his arms around the both of us. He hugged me for a while and told me he was so proud of me. The words were a shock to me. I realized I had built up this unworthy resentment towards him based on a false notion that he viewed me as a failure. All my anger dissipated instantly as he continued to encourage me. "Evie, I know you can do this and I know how much you are going to love breastfeeding our baby, that is why I am doing this." I thought about what he said and it was true. Our son wasn't going to suck on his finger for the rest of his life. 

     About a week later we were finally able to discontinue the use of the lactation aid altogether. We had a little family celebration. That night I asked my husband if he was sad he couldn't finger feed anymore and he said he viewed it as a special time but knew all along that the goal was for our son to breastfeed. I loved breastfeeding my son, just like he knew I would and felt so proud to be the nursing mom at family events.

     Three years later we were blessed with a baby girl (Victoria) and she was so sleepy she wouldn't wake up to breastfeed. Old fears began to rise, but my husband worked with me to get her to latch on correctly from the start and to keep her awake so she could nurse. Two years later we were blessed with another baby boy (Zachary) and he entered the world hungry and nursed right away. I didn't need my husband's assistance this time. I remember admiring my son sucking at my breast and looked up to see my husband admiring me feeding him. "Thank you" I told him. "For what?" he asked. "For everything." I answered. I am forever grateful for his constant patience and encouragement."

- The Finger Feeding Father

Thank you so much for sharing your story and for being a "breast friend" to our readers. I am so encouraged by this story and hope it will serve as an example of the importance of support, persistence, and encouragement to all new mothers and fathers, especially those that face breastfeeding complications.

I was curious to see what the lactation aid looked like and when I did a Google search for "finger feeding" I was amazed to see that the first 5 or 6 pictures of a baby being finger fed, were pictures of fathers finger feeding!*

In my book "So That's What They're For!" aka "The Boobie Bible" the author provides a story where the father, too, is involved in this process. I am so impressed by these dads! I can relate to my friend's attitude toward her husband while he was helping out with the finger feeding. My first born was extremely colicky and he'd scream most of the day while my husband was at work and I was all alone - which can make you go nutty after a while. When my husband walked through the door I'd gladly hand over our little screeching terradactyl and within seconds Ben would stop crying. My husband would say things like "Don't let him cry all day" as he left for work in the mornings. If I couldn't get Ben to stop crying fast enough in the night Nick would come racing into the room like "SuperDad to the rescue" as I put it and it made me feel like I was failing as a mother. I always thought Ben had a closer bond with his father than with me because Nick was the first one to hold him after he was born. Another "breast friend" of mine told me that her first born was the same way, and her husband rigged their vacuum cleaner to a remote so that when their baby started to cry in the night all he had to do was click a button and click it again after a few minutes when their son fell back to sleep. Even though a lot of the pressure to feed, take care of and raise the children falls on us women, I think it's important to step back and give a little credit to the dads that are trying to be involved and help in the ways they can. It's so easy to criticize them for not helping, but it seems like it's just as easy to be critical when they are helping! 

For more information on finger feeding, check out these helpful links which are also listed under the "helpful links" section on the blog:

The New Parents Guide to Finger Feeding
Finger Feeding Premature Babies
About.com Pediatrics on Finger Feeding
Using a Lactation Aid
Why a Lactation Aid is BY FAR the best supplement if a supplement is needed

If you think a Lactation Aid might help you with your breastfeeding needs, check with your pediatrician, lactation consultant, or local hospital which should provide you with the tools you need. You can also check out Lact-aid.

*I do not own the photos in this post. No copyright violations intended.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Is it safe to dye your hair while pregnant or breastfeeding?

A friend of mine, who is breastfeeding, recently asked me if it was okay to highlight or dye her hair while breastfeeding. I told her what I knew about the topic - which is that I've known quite a few women who dyed their hair regularly, while pregnant and breastfeeding, and their babies were fine and it didn't seem to dry out their milk or change the flavor making baby go on a nursing strike. I also told her to have the hair salon read the manufacturer's warning on the label since some products might be considered safe while others are advised not to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. I know for a fact that the Brazillian hair straightining "blow out" system tends to lean toward it not being safe for pregnant or nursing women, partially because of the strong chemicals and the amount of time it's in contact with the scalp (the chemicals don't absorb through the hair shaft, only through the scalp - which is why many women chose to highlight over a dying their entire hair) on top of the amount of fumes breathed in during the application of the product as well as the literal puffs of smoke that are emitted during the flat ironing process, but it's also a newer product and hasn't been around long enough to see what, if any, the effects are on pregnant or nursing women.

As it turns out, I actually had my step mom apply this kind of braziliian blow out straightening system within a week, maybe even days, after conceiving my second son.  I was not aware I was pregnant, but we did apply it outside with a breeze (by the pool - can't get that kind of service at a salon!) and just to be extra safe we both wore a mask - I kinda felt like my step mom was a doctor performing a hair operation on me! And in case you're interested, I had a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy (if you don't include nausea, round ligament pain, and other normal side effects of being pregnant) and an extremely healthy, happy and beautiful baby boy! As for the treatment itself, I have to tell you that it was FABULOUS!!! My entire life I struggled with my hair, and for a short while, it was what I refer to as "normal people hair" it was silky, oh so soft, required so little effort in the mornings, and for the first time I really viewed my hair as beautiful. Then I swam in the ocean, did laps in the pool, and the salt stripped the karotene? out of my silky mermaid hair and slowly but surely the frizzy, puffy locks returned - but I fully intend on having it done again, only I will wait until I'm done breastfeeding.

The main concern with traditional hair dyes, during pregnancy especially, seems to come from breathing in the fumes, which hasn't been proven to cause any harm to baby, rather often times it leaves mom with a major headache, dizzyness or nausea. So ask your OB for his/her opinion and ask your salon what the product's warning label advises. Also, know that from all the research I've read up on, they've done studies on animals (as cruel as that is to take comfort in) and have shown it to be safe.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Winner for the ItzBeen Giveaway!

Congratulations Jessica N from Indiana! You have been randomly selected to win the ItzBeen! I am so excited my son pulled your name out of the drawing cup! For readers who don't know, Jessica is expecting TWINS and will need all the extra advantages she can get to make the entire experience as wonderful as possible. I have sent you an email requesting your address so that I can have Anya P. from Customer Service over at Itzbeen Innovated, Inc ship you your item. Thank you so much for entering and congratulations on your pregnancy and for winning!

I'd also like to thank all the other readers who emailed me to enter to win this item. Congratulations to all of you on your pregnancies or for the pregnancies of your loved ones (we had some enter on behalf of a spouse or relative). Thank you again for your kind words and support of this blog. I wish you all a blessed pregnancy, delivery and nursing experience.  I have contacted Itzbeen and told them how encouraged I was by how many of you want to breastfeed and how I wish I could send each of you the tools to help make your experience as easy as possible! I would highly recommend that each of you look into either registering or purchasing an ItzBeen since it's such a handy little gadget and I personally got months worth of great use out of it!

Thank you again Itzbeen for your generous donation and for supporting our readers to breastfeed!

UPDATE: I had asked Anya if it would be possible to send TWO Itzbeens to Jessica since she is expecting twins, and she was kind and generous enough to do so! In response to receiving the Itzbeens and my question about the gender of her babies Jessica wrote me:

"In answer to your question, we have decided not to find out our babies genders.  We didn’t find out with our daughter and it was such fun!  She did ship us two!  We received them one day last week.  I was so surprised and I thank you so much for your advocating for us!!!  My husband, who loves techie gadgets, is dying to try them out!
 Thanks again!


Thank you again Anya and I wish Jessica and her family all the best!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Hold your baby's hand instead of a bottle"

I just realized the other day that one of my favorite aspects of breastfeeding (besides the nourishment value) is that I have a free hand to hold my baby's hand. I'm constantly holding his little hand while nursing, marveling at his tiny fingers, bringing his hand to my face so I can kiss it. I love being able to use that free hand to gently tickle his cheek and rub the back of his head or run my fingers through his hair, down his arm, to be able to tickle his side and hold his little foot. When he reaches for my face, I take his hand and press his palm to my cheek or pretend to munch on his fist to make him laugh. All of these things I'm able to do because I'm not holding a bottle. I suddenly realized that all of this physical contact must be part of the "bonding" experience they say you get while nursing. Without planning it this way, my default picture (which I chose because I didn't want a picture of my face and would never display a shot of my baby nursing on my breast) demonstrates one of my favorite activities while breastfeeding! The idea hit me at once. With the amount of hours we spending holding our little ones to feed them, wouldn't you rather hold your baby's hand instead of a bottle? So that's my blog's slogan now!

Nursing Baby Moses: Moms step in after infant's mother dies

At the end of the interview with my sister-in-law I was reminded of this story where all these women came together, to support a widowed husband and his new baby named "Moses." Over 20 nursing moms came together to personally breastfeed this baby, and continued to take turns nursing him for the first year of his life. Read the story here:

There's something very special about providing the nurishment for your own baby, but I would think it has to be equally rewarding to help another baby (maybe even more in some ways, like in this case, to know you are granting a mother's dying wish for her child). I posted a clip of Selma Hayek nursing a hungry little newborn baby under the post "Celebrities Breastfeeding" and can only imagine how satisfying it would be to comfort, nurish, and bond with a baby in need, providing him or her with some of their most basic needs.

When I was nursing Ben while living in North Carolina, one of my UNCC classmates became very ill while pregnant. It turned out that she had leukemia and began chemo treatment while pregnant. They worried about how it would affect the baby and as soon as the baby was developed enough to survive outside her mother's belly they did an emergency c-section.

My friend, who knew how much I fought for and believed in breastfeeding, called me to tell me that the doctors want to give her pre-mature baby daugther breastmilk. The little baby girl was too weak and tiny to actually nurse, but they used a tube to feed her a few drops of breastmilk. The hospital had a small breast bank, but eventually they would switch her to formula unless my friend decided to purchase breast milk (which is very expensive) or if she could collect donated breast milk. She told me she would never ask this of anyone else (because breastmilk is a very personal thing, and if a nursing woman drinks caffeine, smokes, uses any medications or drugs these things pass through the breast milk) but she knew how strict I was with my dairy free diet and asked me if I would donate some breast milk for her baby. "Of course," I responded automatically and began pumping that day. I was more than happy to do it. To be honest, though this might sound gross or weird, I wished I could hold that baby and put her right to my breast, but the baby and my friend were in South Carolina getting treatment in a hospital over 4 hours away from me, and my nerves couldn't stand listening to my colicky baby scream in the car the entire drive there and back, so I pumped 2 oz at a time and froze them.

By the time the bottom drawer of my freezer was overflowing with bags of my milk, my friend's baby was already transitioning onto formula and neither of us had a way to get my milk to her, a place to store it, and utilize it (and because STD's can be transferred through breastmilk, it's best to boil it and all hospitals that accept donated breast milk screen it and heat it to kill any bacteria). Although many of the nutrients are lost after this heating process (just like how vegetables are best raw) it's still perfectly proportioned as far as the ratios between fats, proteins, carbs, sugars, water, etc.

At any rate, after a couple months I had to accept that I wasn't going to be able to help my friend's baby and it was pretty painful to throw away all that milk, but the baby was recovering beautifully and that was all that mattered.

I remember feeling helpless as my friend suffered through her treatment, and how when she asked for my milk I finally felt like I would be able to do something grand, even though it didn't work out in the end. I can only imagine how amazing it must have been for these women to be there for this family. This story is a beautiful example of how women should come together and offer support to one another.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Interview with a Cross-Feeder

Some of you might have started out in "camp breastfeed" and ended up packing your pumping gear and crossing the bridge, with a one way ticket, seeking permanent residence into the "land of formula." My sister in law is one of the few I know that is able to cross-feed, back and forth between breastmilk and formula. I have to admit that I'm kind of in awe and jealous of her ability to cross back and forth between these two forms of feeding whenever she wants, so I decided to interview her for my blog since she's the only cross-feeder I know!

PokeyMomma (me): Why did you first decide to breastfeed your first baby?
SisterInLaw: I didn't see any other way..it's the best thing for baby and as a new parent I wanted to try and do everything right...I knew nothing about nursing and the hardships I was going to encounter.
PM: You didn't want to nurse for the first year as is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics?
SIL: I didn't know much about breastfeeding before I had my first baby. I was only planning on nursing for the first three months, but my duchess wouldn't take a bottle and I had no idea you had to work at it...it was then I just decided to keep nursing because it was easier.
PM: When you first started breastfeeding did you find it easy? Did it come naturally to you?
SIL: Absolutely not! It was painful and I didn't know what to expect. Nobody prepared me.

PM: I'm sorry I didn't know what to do to help, other than pick up the supplies you asked me to get. I wish I knew more back then. You had nobody. How did you get through it without support?
SIL: The nurses at my hospital were supportive. Nobody made me second guess my decision to nurse and when I had a problem I would jump on the Internet to research...needless to say I have read tons and  tons of books on the topic.

PM:So after the initial discomfort faded and it became easy to nurse did you want to quit after a few months?
SIL: Are you kidding? I'd still be breastfeeding my first baby if I didn't get pregnant and had to stop! Just joking! ::Laughs:: I wanted to nurse for the first year after I was told that was the recommended time. But I got pregnant when my baby was about 7 months old and my OB told me that by continuing to nurse I would be taking away nutrients that were needed for the baby. I didn't even have time to decide what to do. The day after he told me this my milk started to dry up. My 8 month old baby woke up hungry shortly after I'd put her to bed, which was unusual. She'd start to nurse and then start to cry like she wasn't getting anything. I was forced to switch cold turkey to formula and bottles which she'd never had.

PM: I remember you telling me that all babies have a hard time taking a bottle when they are only use to the breast.
SIL: It's like my pediatrician told me, "Would you rather have a warm grilled cheese or a dry piece of toast This is the difference between breastmilk and formula." consistency is the name of the game here...my babies never liked anything the first time...including nursing...

PM: When I told you that my son fought the bottle on the nights I was in class, I remember you telling me that it's best to buy one type of bottle and stick with it, rather than assume a different kind of bottle will be more accepted.
SIL: That's right. If they are hungry enough, they'll take it. There is no magic nipple that will make the baby take a bottle better...it takes time to learn to drink from a bottle after being use to the breast.

PM: Did you have to go through a bunch of different kinds of formulas before you found one she liked?
SIL: Nope. I picked one and stuck with it. I didn't want to confuse her more. Of course, if she had a bad reaction I would have tried another brand, but she was fine so I never tried another kind.

PM: How long did it take for her to take the bottle of formula?
SIL: We fought hard for about a day, and then she made the transition and it wasn't a problem after that. My next kids I was able to make the transition a lot slower, so both of us were a lot more comfortable with the change.

PM: So were you upset that you had to switch her to formula?
SIL: Yes and no. Yes because it wasn't really my choice. I didn't have time to wean her. No, because it taught me that I can give my baby formula and it would be okay.

PM: So when you had your second baby was nursing difficult in the beginning again?
SIL: There was such a short time between nursing and having babies that I didn't get sore or engorged like the first time. But even though it was a short time I still had to relearn how to nurse a different baby with different likes and needs.

PM: I know you decided to wean your second baby onto formula around the same age, 8 or 9 months right? Why didn't you want to nurse for the first year now that you weren't pregnant and didn't have to stop?
SIL: We are creatures of habit right? It worked very well for me with the first so I did what I knew and in the end it worked out for the best.

PM: So now that you've had your third baby, did nursing come easily?
SIL: Actually, it had been a while (my second baby was 2.5 years old when my third was born) and I got sore this time. I got engorged too, but I knew what to expect so it wasn't such a struggle.

PM: Recently your third baby turned 6 months old and you decided to start supplementing with formula, which is earlier than you had started the first two on formula. Why the change?
SIL: With my third I wanted to make the transition really gradual, so it wasn't such a shock. I started mixing a little formula with rice cereal to get him acquainted with the flavor, and then I started a couple ounces in a bottle. If he didn't want it I didn't force it, and I like doing it that way.

PM: And now you give your third baby formula in a bottle during the day, and still nurse him at night?
SIL: Yes. The first time I went all day without nursing I had to take a hot shower and even nurse him to relieve the engorgement, but the next day I was fine. Eventually I'll start supplementing with bottles of formula at night, but right now it's too convenient to just nurse him. Plus I still like that time.
PM: But he hasn't bitten you yet, right?
SIL: No, but I can tell he is going to be a biter. He tends to bite as he's drifting off and once teeth come in that's going to hurt.

PM: Every time you nurse him, do you savor it? I'd feel sad, knowing this is one of the last times I'm ever going to nurse my baby again.
SIL: Not at all. I enjoyed nursing him as a newborn and as a small baby. I think the first six months it's important, not to mention convenient with all the bottles you'd have to clean, but now that he's moving onto baby food we're both ready for this transition.

PM: I think that's great that you are able to do both and every mother should do what she feels comfortable doing, but I have to ask - and you know I'm not trying to scare you or anything - but what if the formula brand you are feeding your baby gets recalled in a few months? How are you going to handle that?
SIL: After I had my first born, and was forced to put her on formula. Six months later the big BPA scare came out and I cried and cried after I found out that the bottles I'd been heating in the microwave and boiling and steralizing and putting in my dishwasher, they all contained BPA. Then the Rota Virus vaccine was recalled. Next, the car seat and stroller I used were recalled. Jars of baby food are constantly being recalled. Last year, when my kids were sick for months on end and I'd given them more Infant Tylenol and Motrin then I'd ever given them, a recall for both products was issued and every bottle I'd given them was under the recall, I've come to accept that I can only do my best, and even then there are things out of my control. I check the recall websites daily, but there's only so much you can do. We've all survived all of the recalls and I'm sure there will be more and we'll respond accordingly. Formula isn't going to be the only recall in my children's lives so I'm not going to live in fear.

PM: I think you might be one of the rare cross-feeders who is really supportive of breastfeeding and formula-feeding.
SIL: Well I think most women try to breastfeed. They want to do it, but when they think they can't, they move onto formula. I think we should be supportive to those that want to breastfeed, but we can't bash formula either.

PM: That's the hardest part for me when I'm writing my blog. I can't say I'm "pro-formula" the way I am "pro-breastmilk" but I don't want the mothers who had / have to use formula to feel like I'm bashing them. I just want to support and educate all women that might want to breastfeed or in case they want to breastfeed their next child but weren't successful with their first.
SIL: We have to deal with so much as new moms - from sleep deprivation to adjusting our lives to revolve around our kids, struggles in marriages, criticism and judgement from friends and family about what we're not doing or should be doing, etc. We women need to just stick together and be supportive. We are all doing what we have to do. We do what works, and when it doesn't work anymore we change. For now, formula feeding during the day and nursing at night works for me. If my baby gets a runny nose or a cough from a cold I like to nurse a little more, but as he is getting in teeth if he starts to bite I'll start switching to using the bottle more.

PM: You're doing what you're comfortable doing and I think that's all that matters.
SIL: That's how it should be. Women who want to nurse should feel supported in that decision, and if they chose not to do it, for whatever reason, they should feel comfortable with that decision too.

PM: I think that's excellent advice and hope it will give encouragement to all moms. Thank you so much, my cross-feeding expert!
SIL: Glad I could help!