There are so many reasons why somebody might not be breastfeeding. Everything from traumatic birth, structural issues with the baby and their ability to latch, history of trauma or abuse, or the parent’s neurodiversity may make the sensory input of breastfeeding intolerable. But regardless of the reason, we should never question people’s decisions surrounding this important and personal parenting choice!
Mallory Whitmore is a Certified Infant Feeding Technician, advocate for informed, supported infant feeding choices for everybody and formula feeding mother of two. She began her formula feeding journey when she, like so many of you listeners out there, was feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, disappointed, and full of guilt and stress about formula feeding.
On today’s podcast, she shares with us some of the main reasons people are unable to breastfeed, her recommendations when it comes to choosing which formula is right for you - some of which we share below! And some great tips around bottle feeding techniques that can make a huge difference in symptoms that you might see in your baby!
1. All Nutrient Levels are Roughly the Same
The most important thing to understand is that the FDA requires all infant formulas to provide basically the same nutritional value - all nutrient levels are going to be roughly the same and all formulas are going to provide the nutrition that your baby needs to grow and thrive. In that regard, you can’t make the wrong choice!
2. Different Formulas use Different Ingredients to Provide Nutrients
While all formulas have enough nutritional value for your baby, they use different ingredients to provide these nutrients. And just like you can get protein from lentils or you can get protein from salmon, different ingredients can provide the same nutrients. This is an important factor for parents to consider. For example, if you are looking for a formula that’s close to breast milk, you’re going to want one that uses lactose as the carb source because that’s the predominant carbohydrate in breast milk, as well as a formula that has whey protein close to the top of the ingredients list. Mature breast milk has approximately a 60% whey protein count while cow milk only has about 20% - a protein ratio with extra whey more closely mimics what we find in breast milk.
3. Nice to Have Extras, Especially for Newborns
After considering the difference in ingredients and their nutritional composition, parents may want to look at other “extras” that are great for development such as DHA, an essential fatty acid found in breast milk which is great for brain development and eye health. You can also look for prebiotics and probiotics, which can help with digestion and can be especially helpful if your baby is struggling with digestive symptoms.
Let’s do away with the thought that if you don’t breastfeed your baby, you must not love them or are unwilling to sacrifice enough for them. That added pressure is unnecessary at an already difficult and often fragile mental, emotional and physical state. As a society, let’s move toward recognizing that we often have no idea what's going on behind the scenes and people make decisions for a variety of reasons. Whether you are a parent, well meaning friend, or stranger, we should do our best to approach the topic with compassion and understanding, and most of all respect for the parent’s right to choose what is best for them and their baby!
Check out The Formula Mom’s FREE Formula Guide