By Kim Onion
I suppose that many would say that worrying about how your formula fed your baby is ridiculous. It’s over and done with, and there’s nothing you can do to change what’s done. However, I still worry. Why? My daughter is eight now. She suffers from allergies; some food and some environmental. Dairy is one of them. As a small child, she had almost constant ear, nose and throat infections: Bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infection, ear infection, ear infection. Now that I know what I do about cow’s milk based formulas, I believe her early weaning could have caused these problems. I accept my portion of the blame.
Here’s what happened. My daughter was born on a fine April evening. The labor nurse helped me latch her on right after delivery. It was wonderful. She was an expert nurser right from the start. We exclusively nursed until it was time for me to return to work. That is when the troubles began.
I had a pump. However, I wasn’t a great pumper, and no one around me could help me figure out how to pump enough to avoid formula while I was away. Soon, I stopped pumping, because it was too much of a hassle, and everyone around me said that formula was “just as good”. I was still nursing at home, but soon that dropped to only once in the morning and once at night before bed. At six months, my supply had dropped so badly that my daughter refused the breast. I now know more about the dangers of supplementing to a nursing relationship, and believe she had a case of nipple preference. So we weaned. Just like that. The end.
I truly thought there was nothing I could do to reverse the situation, and I really didn’t think there was any reason to. Formula was fine. Baby was fine. Or so I thought.
Now, let’s fast forward to my second child. My pregnancy was a nightmare. I was on bedrest because of preterm labor. I was petrified that my baby would be born prematurely, and THEN what would I do?? Well, I started researching and everywhere I read I saw more on the benefits of breastfeeding a premature baby. They need the physical contact. They need the breastmilk that only the mother of a premature infant can make. Breastmilk drastically reduces the risk of NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis). Breastmilk is easier on a premature infant’s digestive system. Breastmilk provides immunities that formula cannot. The benefits go on and on and on.
An anger began to build within me. I was becoming furious. Why?? Why had I been led to believe that formula was just as good as breastmilk? Why had no one told me before that there was any difference? No one told me. NO ONE. How could I have been so ignorant? How could I have fed my precious child formula?? And what was I now to do with this rage within me?
I determined that I would overcome any obstacle, and I would nurse this second child. Thankfully, he was NOT born prematurely. We latched on for the first time at the hospital seconds after his birth, and we haven’t looked back since. He is, at the time of this writing, fourteen months old. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that one day my baby and I would be where we are today. It is beyond joy to look at my darling son and know that I have been able to give him the very best. Not a drop of formula has passed his lips.
I thank all those who helped educate me. I thank that nurse at the hospital that helped us latch for the first time. I thank my son for loving the gift that only I, his mother, can give him.
I am thankful, because I have learned my lesson.