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Using Formula Helped Me Keep Breastfeeding

I started breastfeeding my daughter when she was three hours old. She was good at it, I thought. She latched right away and seemed to be satiated quickly. Her lips were never chapped, her mouth was always wet, and she was wetting a sufficient amount of diapers. In other words, all the things you’re supposed to watch for to avoid dehydration were just fine. But then came our first pediatrician’s appointment.

“You’ve facilitated a critical weight loss,” said the pediatrician – who was blunt and a grump and is no longer our pediatrician.

Because I had been exclusively breastfeeding, the news was crushing. I couldn’t help but feel like a failure of a mom, wondering if she had been hungry this whole time.

That said, the doctor was right. In just 72 hours, my girl had lost one whole pound. That’s a lot when you start out at 7 pounds, 12 ounces. It’s a weight loss of 14 percent -- anything more than 10 percent at that first newborn appointment sends up red flags. So when supplementing was brought up, I didn’t think twice. There was no question whether or not to supplement. Whatever she needed, I was happy to do.

Admittedly, I hadn’t done much research about breastfeeding and at this point was completely unaware of the culture. In certain circles, formula feeding is taboo -- shameful, even. But I didn’t know. My husband and I had even stocked up on formula before our baby was born, in case breastfeeding proved difficult. We brought home cans of the gmo-free, organic stuff.

I’m the first of many of my friends to have a baby, and it wasn’t until I joined mom groups that I realized the despair many women feel when they aren’t able to successfully nurse their baby.

I didn’t know there was this guilt-laden philosophy that anything other than breastfeeding was wrong. I didn’t know some moms want so badly to breastfeed that even when their baby refuses, they pump around the clock so to bottle feed their little one that nutrient and anti-body rich supply. I had no idea that other moms endured blisters and cracks on their nipples in order to breastfeed. Or even that some, desperate to nurse, continue trying exclusively, even though they aren’t able to produce.

The tremendous pressure to breastfeed at all costs came to light recently, when Jillian Johnson wrote about the loss of her baby, Landon, at just 19-days-old.

In a post on Fed is Best, Johnson shared how her tiny boy cried nearly nonstop in the hospital. Johnson said he stayed on her breast constantly, nursing for 14-hours in his second day. According to her, medical professionals were not worried. Her lactation consultant told her he had a great latch and was doing fine. A nurse said he was just cluster feeding. By the end of day two, Johnson wrote, Landon’s weight was down nearly 10 percent.

The hospital where Landon was born is a “Baby-Friendly” hospital, which meant that unless there was a medical reason why she couldn’t breastfeed, Landon wouldn’t receive formula without a prescription from his pediatrician.

Twelve hours after getting home from the hospital, Landon went into cardiac arrest from dehydration. He spent the rest of his 19 days on life support.

The Fed is Best Foundation works to prevent infant starvation due to insufficient breastfeeding. The mission of the foundation, as it is named, is to remind parents that being fed is best – however that happens.

How do you know your newborn isn't getting enough milk? Major warning signs include inconsolable, high-pitched crying, unsatisfied nursing -- lasting longer than 30 minutes and more than every two hours -- and reduced wet diapers.

My husband and I supplemented our daughter’s feedings for one day, then I felt the pins and needles so many women describe. My milk came in, and our baby regained her birth weight and then some.

There are a lot of reasons some lactation consultants and medical professionals encourage exclusive breastfeeding, especially in the beginning. There’s the ubiquitous fear of nipple confusion and the need to kickstart your production. But those are teeny, tiny, insignificant things in comparison to what’s most important: feeding your baby. By whatever means necessary. No amount of guilt should get in the way of that.

Photography by kelci alane photography.

Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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