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Why I Formula-Feed

Ali Hynek of Nena & Co. opens up about her baby feeding journey.

Why I Formula-Feed

We’ve partnered with Babynes to celebrate new parents’ feeding journeys, and share some feeding positivity to help you feed your baby in the best way you can.

Navigating your way through your feeding journey as a new parent can feel overwhelming. Breastfeeding, formula-feeding, or combo-feeding -- no matter which you decide is right for you and your family, there’s always someone else doing it differently. Which, on the hardest days, can make you feel like you’re doing it all wrong.

But you’re not. We know you’re doing the best you can, and we think you’re doing great. You’re doing it your way, and we’re proud of you for that. In case you need a little more inspiration and motivation though, we’re launching a new series to show off the very diverse feeding journeys of some very diverse parents. And whether they breastfeed, formula-feed or combo-feed, they’re doing it with positivity. We hope you are too.

First up, meet Ali Hynek, founder of the ethically made handbag company Nena & Co. and new mama of triplets. Below, Ali shares her own feeding journey, and why formula-feeding helps empower her to be a more confident mother.

“Having three babies at once really changes a lot of expectations. Whenever I thought of having children, I always assumed I would breastfeed. When I found out I was having triplets, I still felt like I would at least try my best to breastfeed to a certain extent. It was a hot topic for me and my doctor. He was very supportive no matter what I decided to do, but he really tried to stress to me that should I decide to formula-feed, my babies would be just as smart, loved and happy as a breastfed baby. So, my conclusion was, I wanted to at least try to breastfeed and would be OK with the idea of formula when I felt it was the right time.

My babies were born at 31 weeks and 6 days so they were tube-fed as they hadn't developed the skills to suck yet. But I started pumping right away. I was really worried that because the babies weren't actually latching on that I wouldn't produce the milk I needed. There are pros and cons to spending day after day in the NICU and one of the pros was that I had access to all sorts of specialist that were my cheerleaders in nursing the babies. I started with "non-nutritive breastfeeding," which means the babies were too little to get full gulps of milk, so I would pump first and then let the babies latch. I did this for about two weeks or until each baby was able to start breastfeeding.

I really loved that I had the opportunity to breastfeed. It is another way of connecting with your baby and that skin-to-skin time is heavenly. The challenge for me was that I had so many babies! I would have to mentally prepare for the day because I would have to go from baby to baby to baby, and once I was done I would run to the bathroom, grab a quick snack and then come back to their nursery and start over again. I know that's how most nursing moms feel!

In the end, I committed to breastfeeding them for 6 weeks because I knew they would have gotten that rich colostrum from their mama when they needed it so badly. With the help that you need caring for newborn multiples, it wasn't a realistic thing for me to continue once we got them home from the hospital, so I mentally prepared to transition to formula.

People would ask me if I was breastfeeding. I mean ANYONE would ask. Random men that would see us walking the babies in their strollers. I really hated that. It’s a very personal question and as a mother, no matter what you do, you still feel guilt. But what really matters is what you and your partner decided to do with your babies, and my husband was my Number One supporter. The route we decided to take was better for us since we needed (and had!) a lot of family helping us get through those first few months. The best aspect of using bottles for us was the flexibility it gave us to have others help.

Other moms can be so critical of each other, and it’s the single most negative thing about being a new mom. You really feel so vulnerable and everyone wants to give you their opinion. Once you do your own research and decide what is best for you, you need to do so with confidence. Be flexible and forgiving with yourself too. If you try something and it doesn't work, it’s okay to try something different. Seeing that my babies were gaining weight, and that they were healthy and happy while they were bottle-fed made me feel so grateful for the people that have dedicated themselves to providing an excellent alternative to breast milk.”

Photography by Becky Kimball for Well Rounded NY. This post is sponsored by Babynes.

Want to win your own Babynes machine plus 4 boxes of formula? Head over to our giveaway here.

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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