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Formula Feeding From Birth

Formula Feeding From Birth

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I’m currently pregnant with baby number two and I have decided to (GASP!) formula feed from birth. I’ve read nearly everything you’ve ever written (big fan of the blog and the smackdown), so I am familiar with your history and your choice to breastfeed your boys. So why am I writing to you for advice on choosing NOT to breastfeed?! Well, because I know that you are respectful of the mother’s decision and you are able to consider other options AND give advice on things you have not necessarily experienced. Plus your readers give excellent advice in the form of comments, too!

So. I am an educated woman in my late twenties. I teach high school chemistry full-time. I have a two year old. I breastfed my first baby for three weeks before beginning to switch to formula and ease my transition back to work after six weeks of maternity leave. I am not going to go into my reasons for choosing not to breastfeed, but please know that I have done my research and I am content with my decision.

NOW, for my question(s): What can I expect in the hospital when I “reveal” that I will not be breastfeeding? Will I need to bring formula and bottles of my own, or will the hospital supply them? Will I be allowed to use my own bottles and mix my own formula? Will the nurses still bring the baby in during the night so that I can feed him/her even though I am choosing formula? What are some ways that I can politely turn away an overzealous lactation consultant (LC)? What if the doctors and LC are really pushy and rude?

Thanks!
Formula Feeding Mom

So I’m going to let your first two paragraphs speak for themselves as the last and final word on your decision, order everybody in the comments to BE NICE, and skip right to your actual question(s).

No, you absolutely do not need to bring any feeding supplies to the hospital. Your baby will (most likely) be provided with premixed formula in those tiny ready-to-need bottles, with individually-wrapped nipples that screw on. You will be given as many as you need. (And if you get a nice nurse, you’ll probably discover a couple extra four-packs show up mysteriously before you go home. Take them!!!!)

I do not believe you’d be allowed to use your own bottles/formula, mostly because of sterilization/safety/liability concerns. But hey, your insurance will pay for the hospital formula, so save your own for later, once the cost is fully on you. Most hospitals are stocked with a BUTT LOAD of formula and should also send you home with some freebies — my hospital stopped the “free diaper bag courtesy of Similac” thing but the samples were still there for anyone who asked.

For your other concerns/questions, I would recommend visiting or calling your L&D ward and asking them about their formula-feeding policies, since they will vary from hospital to hospital. My third baby needed formula supplementing at the hospital and I had to sign a “consent to formula feed” form, even though I planned to administer every bottle. I took issue with the way the form was worded — it seemed shame-y to formula-feeding mothers like you and hurtful to breastfeeding mothers like me, who were TRYING our best but supplementing out of sheer necessity because our babies were dehydrated or losing too much weight to go home. Kind of  “I acknowledge that I’m choosing to go against what is actually best for my baby” and stuff, if you know what I mean. (I later spoke directly with the head of L&D who completely agreed with me and said the form would be rewritten. Yay!) You may need to sign something similar, so just a heads’ up.

Usually the babies’ bassinets are marked in some way to indicate whether they are breastfed or bottle-fed. But you can ABSOLUTELY request that your baby NOT be fed in the nursery or by anyone other than you. Just tell your nurses and stress that it’s important to you. If you wake up one morning and realize your baby wasn’t brought to you, feel free to pitch a fit. (Though my hospital rarely took babies from their mothers’ rooms ANYWAY, except for weight checks and baths. The bassinet stayed next to my bed, with a big stash of diapers, wipes and the little formula bottles [for Ike, at least] underneath for me to use as needed.)

If you’re allowed to pre-check-in prior to the birth, I imagine you can have your feeding decision marked in your file ahead of time, letting them know that you prefer to not get hassled by a judge-y nurse and that you will NOT be requiring a visit from a lactation consultant. (Unless you’d like to talk to someone about what to do when your milk comes in and how to speed/ease the drying up process.) I’d also recommend talking to your labor nurse about your feeding plans as part of your overall birth plan discussion once you arrive, so you’re not “revealing” the decision right after the birth. (And so they’ll know to have a bottle on hand.) Then reiterate everything to your nurse once you’re in your room: 1) formula feeding, 2) all bottles given by parents/family only, 3) no LC visit needed, and 4) BE NICE.

A good, professional nurse should not give you a hard time, and if they do, simply shut the conversation down (consider it practice for any judge-y people you encounter later), and/or have your partner go to the front desk and ask for a staff change. Be firm, be calm, be confident.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Comments

  • No advice, but just chiming in that my baby has essentially been formula-fed from birth so *fistbump* of solidarity.

  • Kelly

    I breastfed my only child, and my sister formula fed from birth all three of hers. All of the children have grown happy, healthy and smart. I don’t see a point to the shame-y thing. Whatever.
    Now, the questions! From what I’ve seen, hospitals have a whole bunch for you. My hospital still did the Similac diaper bag thing and I used that formula later when I could not produce to meet his need. LC may have really good advice on the whole drying up faster with less discomfort thing, so maybe worth a chat even pre-birth on that! Oh, and if they are rude to you, I say it’s ok for you to be rude right back. My first LC PINCHED me, like actually gave me a titty-twister to demonstrate something that I missed because PAIN! (She was like 150 years old) So I requested a different one. Problem solved.

  • CS

    All of the hospitals I’ve birthed in were rather generous with the ready to feed formula bottles. The first hospital had a nursery and would take the babies overnight if requested. The second two didn’t have a nursery, so it was mandatory rooming in. Whether or not they have a nursery might affect how specific you need to get with feeding instructions. Also, some hospitals are going for or are already designated “baby friendly”, which usually means you have to specifically request formula. 

    But yes, confidence and firm decision making should help you in this. It’s so funny that the first hospital I birthed in was *totally* pro formula, the second was pretty neutral, and the third definitely skewed towards pro breastfeeding. It was interesting to see the differences among hospitals. 

  • Shannon

    I would definitely recommend talking with your hospital first, or your midwife, nurse, OB, etc to find out the general policies.   We used a hospital that has been designated as “baby friendly” (I think? or family friendly or breastfeeding friendly…something friendly) which includes a ton of resources toward breastfeeding and lots of breastfeeding related messaging everywhere, which might be really frustrating to navigate.  If yours fits that mold, and you have other options, it might be worth a slightly longer drive or other compromise to be sure you are in a place that will work for you. 

  • Julia

    Check out the Fearless Formula Feeder blog, facebook page, and support group on FB https://www.facebook.com/groups/617151455038288/.

    If you are delivering at “baby friendly” initiative hospital be prepared for more pushback and general assholish behavior by nurses and LCs.  If it’s not a “baby friendly” hospital hopefully they will be more supportive.

  • Ann

    I formula fed from birth with both of my kids and never felt any judgment or resistance from the staff at the hospitals where I delivered.  This was 6 and 4 years ago, so it may be different now, but I never had to explain my decision nor meet with an LC.  I think it’s a great idea to talk to your OBGYN ahead of time, if you haven’t already, to ask what the practices are at the hospital where you’ll deliver.  And I’d just suggest being confident in your decision and clear, but kind, in saying that it’s not up for discussion.  Good luck!

  • Amy

    I am a momma of 20 month twins who did breast milk and formula. I did intend to only bf until I discover thru 4 tortuous days in the hospital that making enough to feed twins is HARD. Also one son would latch perfectly and the other had trouble latching despite breast shields and working with a LC. So to get my supply up enough to feed twins, I pumped and pumped and pumped. I think my hubby and I only slept 8 hours in 4 days-no joke. On discharge day we were so exhausted that when my Dr. walked in with my discharge paperwork and saw the state we were in and listening to our struggles, she reccommend formula feeding. The nurses her reluctantly gave us several packs of the ready formula and screw on lids. By the time we drove out of the parking lot, I told my husband we were stopping for bottles and more formula before arriving home. I decided a sane momma was just as important for my boys as breast milk. You do what is best for your family!

  • mariposa

    I pumped like a madwoman for my first. Didn’t want to for my second and couldn’t anyway (no maternity leave). The hospital for baby #2 was horrible from start to finish when it came to pressure to breastfeed after I’d explained my reasons and decision multiple times. My OB hassled me, the chief resident hassled me, the attending hassled me, my nurses hassled me, and the hospital pediatrician gave me an outrageously condescending 15-minute lecture (filled with some incorrect and outdated information and snark about bottle feeding was something she’d expect from someone “with a far lesser financial and educational background” than mine) and implied that if I didn’t agree to breastfeed, she wouldn’t sign off on our release (some people might fold under manipulation like that, which is awful). I was firm and polite and extremely pissed, and in retrospect, I wish I’d told them what total jerks they were being to a postpartum woman not really in control of her emotions, but I really just wanted to get my baby out of there.

    It really depends on your hospital and how much they aspire to “baby-friendly” status, which is to say, mom-unfriendly (mine was a large hospital with the best NICU in the state, which disqualified it from being officially “baby friendly,” but the politics of the region meant it was baby friendly whenever possible, which included locking up formula and making you sign for it). If you can scout out a hospital that isn’t going to do that to you, do it. Otherwise, follow the advice from the columnist: Make your decision well known in all your documentation and NEVER let them bully you out of making a perfectly healthy choice for your kid.

  • Jeannie

    I have no experience with your situation BUT I did want to say that I found all the hospital folks *much* less likely to give any advice or question my decisions when I had my second as opposed to my first. So I would hope you will find the same. (I mean — I hope no hospital staff is ever judgey. But lacking that perfect world, just the fact that this is your second might work in your favour.)

    • Rayne of Terror

      I came here to say the same thing.  With my second baby the nurses assumed I knew what I was doing and largely left me to my own devices re: baby feeding.  

  • Jennifer

    My OB believed that I wasn’t medically able to bf because of a medication I was taking, so the LC didn’t even come to visit. They asked me if I wanted Similac or Enfamil in the delivery room and served up a lovely premixed bottle, no questions asked…until three days in we landed in the NICU and the neonatologist asked me to try to help wean her off the medication more gently.  When I ended up with mastitis and couldn’t produce enough to meet my ravenous child’s demands, the NICU again asked which flavor she preferred and off we went, bottle in hand.

  • Leslie

    What type of hospital will you be at? I delivered both at a large public university hospital, and my experience has been that you don’t have a ton of control and will have a combination of completely amazing and totally jack-ass care providers. My only goal for the third delivery is to recognize the jerks sooner and not feel one bit bad about asking for someone else. If you think your hospital is similar, that might be a way to go – not get hung up on how awful a baby-feeding debate would be, but rather come up with a secret signal with your significant other that means: I just made this baby happen. You can go out to the nurses station and tell them I would never like to see this horrible person again. That’s just my experience with a pretty specific type of healthcare system, though. Good luck!!!

  • LR

    As a nurse, I will warn you that there is a new type of certification that is only allowed if formula is  not readily available. So, just double check with your hospital beforehand  (maybe at a childbirth class – even though you already have one) just so you are fully prepared before you add in hormones (all the hormones!)

  • Emily

    Hospital tour! We did the tour for our baby and the hospital sent us home with a folder of paperwork/flyers/policies that made it pretty clear where they stood. Even as a mom who planned to breastfeed, I found some of the flyers uncomfortably pushy. We ended up going there in the end and sharing a room for a few hours with another new mom (crazy busy night for babies!) and she did formula from the start with no problems from the nurses that I picked up on. Like Amy said, they gave her the pre-mixed bottles by the package to keep in the bassinet.

  • Lindsay

    Definitely, definitely enlist your significant other/parent/sibling/close friend, SOMEBODY to run block for you if a staff member starts giving you a hard time. Maybe even have them prepare a firm but friendly spiel about “she’s made her choice and that will be all, thanks.” The last thing you need after giving birth to an adorable baby is to bicker with strangers! This will also help prevent any emotional, hormone driven weakening of your determination to do what you have decided is best for your family. Also, remember that you can always complain as high up the chain as you want. The last thing a hospital wants is a public relations nightmare if a story were to get out about hospital staff harassing and intimidating a woman who just gave birth!

  • Athena

    I didn’t get it about formula – I breastfed – but I found that things were very mixed in general among the nurses. Some of the nurses were okay, others were very assholish about varying things. One told me off for not totally swaddling my child so his arms were wrapped too, despite the fact that he would insistantly try and suck his thumb and got annoyed if his arms were bound (additionally, he didn’t start startling himself away for a good couple of months).

  • S

    Congratulations! I thought this was great advice. Definitely let the hospital know ahead of time, it’ll be on your pre-registration forms. Don’t most hospitals room-in now? My babies were only ever away for one 40-minute nap/potassium heel thingie. You might also want to clue in Dad that questions could arise, an LC might accidentally pop in, or some jerk might say something insensitive. As the one who didn’t just pop out a baby, it’s on him to shush them up and shoo them away quickly. Here I go assuming things – that you have a partner and that he’s a man. Oops if I’m wrong! At the hospital people might make assumptions, too. When I have birth to my twins, a nurse kept thinking I was joking when I repeatedly told her that I’m not married as she showed me where to have my husband sign the paperwork. Sometimes people say the wrong thing and then just keep going with it? So make sure someone is there to speak up for you!

  • Caroline

    Just a suggestion but I would suggest you get your OB in the know before and put it that – with her / his help – you are *not able to breastfeed*. You need not supply a reason, but you aren’t ABLE to. This will shut down any and every pushy busybody who wants to ”just let you chat with this nice lactation consultant” when you are trapped in your hospital bed. You can say ”oh there’s no point, I’m not able to, so no thanks”. That’s just my take, but definitely let them know ahead of time in some way and there are pills to dry up the milk. I’d get your OB to prescribe some and once administered, the matter is absolutely closed and finished, no matter who says what! I think Amy is right re them giving you the formula you will require and so no need to bring anything in that respect, but again, do ask, just in case. Best of luck, I’m sure everything will work out perfectly!

  • Claire

    All excellent advice, and I’m only popping on with some milk drying up advice! I’m in the UK and they don’t prescribe anything to dry up milk. I breastfed my giant daughter till 11 months and dropped to 1 feed and yet my god the engorgement. I Googled the hell out of things to make it stop! Sudafed, or equivalent. Anything that dries up mucous when you have a cold. It made a massive difference overnight so I highly recommend it for when your milk comes in.
    Good luck!

    • Caroline

      I KNOW!! It’s crazy, because such medication exists, but because it’s for your own ”selfish” and ”personal” comfort, they won’t damn well give it to you… I got an absolute dressing down when I asked for some when I finished breastfeeding DS1 a few months in. I’d had terrible mastitis and ”no dear. We don’t”. No reason given, just bloody-minded. My gynae here in SA assures me that such a thing exists and can be prescribed quite easily! It’s not particularly ”good” for you, but you’re hardly likely to take it constantly, are you? I could rant on about the pettiness of the NHS experience… but the breastfeeding thing was something I’d forgotten, as it was so small in comparison to the other bits…

  • Jean

    My son is now 10, but I can tell you when I gave birth, I formula fed from day one. No one harassed me, no one gave me a hard time. They gave me plenty of bottles and a bunch to take home as well. I was able t feed him as he needed. I had him in the nursery for 2 of the four nights because I had a c-section and was going through a rough time.

    The only person who was an idiot was the nurse on discharge day who came in (never met her before) and physically tried to open my shirt saying “let me see your breasts”. I was horrified and told her no, they were fine. No shaming, no issues. Your baby will be amazing and wonderful 🙂

  • Kimberly

    You got this, Mama! I formula-fed from Day 1 with no hassle from any of my care providers in my “baby friendly” hospital. Plenty of ready-to-feed Similac for baby, and they showed us where the extra stash was…just in case. 😉

    Also: CABBAGE LEAVES IN YOUR BRA. You’ll smell like sauerkraut, but it really works.

  • Joanie

    I didn’t have a problem with the bottle-fed shame with my second child – first one OH LAWD, you’d have thought I was trying to feed the kid crack. I had also switched Drs and hospitals in between so that could have had something to do with it. In my birth plan I submitted to the hospital with No. 2, I had a whole paragraph dedicated to the fact that I would not need LC services as my child would be bottle fed and that I was happy with this choice and that they respect my decision.

  • Mary

    I will tell you my experience just to chime in with another “the nurses were nice and you don’t have to worry” story. With my first I intended to breastfeed exclusively, but after an overnight labor and a loooong tough day of both recovery and really terrible breastfeeding attempts, I was exhausted and barely functional trying desperately to feed my newborn on his first night. At three in the morning, a nurse offered to take him to the nursery to give him a bottle of formula just so I could rest. She was very nice and sympathetic, she reassured me that everything would be fine and that both I and the baby would benefit from his solid formula meal and my opportunity to nap. She was right. I ended up breastfeeding him or bottle feeding him with pumped breastmilk for a month before switching to formula and going back to work. With my second, I told the nurse that I was not fixated on either breastfeeding or bottle feeding. That I would be more than happy to attempt the breastfeeding again, but that I would also supplement with formula as needed. Nobody batted an eye at this and the lactation consultant that was sent to help with the breastfeeding was incredibly nice and encouraging in my attempts while also never shaming or ridiculing me for the supplementing. I was given lots of premade bottles of formula and individually wrapped sterilized nipples as well as a breast pump to use at will. It was all very stress free and everyone seemed perfectly fine no matter what I did (as long as I fed him).
    Also, both of my babies were in the room with me the vast majority of the time we were at the hospital. They only removed them to do exams or whatever it is they do and always returned them after. They offered to take them to the nursery at night if I chose and when I didn’t, they didn’t even complain (even though I know it’s against their policies) when I let the baby sleep in my bed. All in all, I think there are probably some bad nurses out in the world, they same way there are people in every profession who just shouldn’t be, but they are few and far between.

  • Anne

    I just want to reassure you, we gave birth at a baby friendly hospital.  we didn’t formula feed from birth- but were open to theW possibility of needing the formula, and lo, the nurses made sure we had a couple of 6 picks of formula in the room just in case. I did have to sign for it, but everyone was super chill about it. It was definitely more a feeling of  “feed the baby” and less of a “breastfeed the baby”. just talk to your OB and their nurses and make sure she/he is willing to advocate for you a bit.

  • Melissa

    I breasfed my four but even I WISH WISH WISH I had noted that I didn’t need to see the Lactation Consultant automatically and would ask for one if I did.  Our hospital is wonderful but we did have a VERY judge-y LC I really didn’t to encounter again.   And this is for a BF mom!   I figured I knew how to contact someone when/if needed but this lady could GO. I couldn’t imagine what she would say to a mother choosing (for her own damn good reasons, thank you very much) to formula feed.  

    My sister tried like hell to breastfeed her first two and due to some medical problems ended up formula feeding, with her third she chose for the sake of her mental health and peace to just start with formula.  For her, that was absolutely the right decision and her daughter is now healthy and thriving…and so is Mama.

  • Formula Feeding Mom

    Just popping in to say thank you, Amalah, for answering my potentially controversial question. And thank you, readers for being kind and super helpful. It is so nice to get tips from other parents and to hear about their experiences, pitfalls, etc. Much appreciated!!

  • CeeBee

    Just chiming in again on the “baby friendly”. When baby #1 was born our hospital wasn’t, but 14 months later for #2 it was. Oddly I got the whole “breast is best” speech quite frequently BOTH times. I’d get the speech when they doled out that pain relieving 400mg ibuprofen… Just be prepared.

  • jennifer

    I’m a breast feeding mom and I’m pregnant with baby number 2. I debated between breast and bottle for this baby, but ultimately decided to go with what i know best, but i totally support formula feeding moms (i usually transition to formula around 4-5 months when food starts getting introduced. by then I’m back to work and my supply is down, so i don’t have to deal with bad engorgement), and i want to talk about the benefits of choosing to formula feed from day 1! 1. You don’t have to deal with hospital staff, LCs, and visitors all knowing what your boobs look like, or stranger creepy LCs thinknig it’s okay to touch your boobs. They’ve already seen all your lady bits below, it would probably be nice to keep your boobs private. 2. You don’t have to feed as often, and your baby is getting the proper nutrition, regardless of what the LCs say. Our Children’s hospital in Buffalo is Pro Breast Feeding to the point it creeps me out, they act like formula feeding is like feeding a baby gasoline, when really the formula includes ALL the right things, alot of times breast milk does not (i.e. lacking the proper amount of iron and vitamin D if you live up north) 3. Your spouse and family memers can feed them when they are there! To heck with all the hospital staff, you two can be a team, and feel free to use profanity if anyone crosses the line with you! Good luck!

  • Cmprow

    Our hospital will not let you bring in your own formula.  They have a strict no powder policy but happily supply the pre mixed packages.  The powder is considered a health risk if someone inhales it (silly, yes).

  • I wanted to chime in here from the perspective of a student lactation consultant.

    As many others have said find out what the policies are at the hospital you plan to give birth at regarding being asked to sign a “consent to formula feed”, bringing in your own formula/bottles, whether you will be visited by an LC, etc.

    At some hospitals (specifically those designated as “Baby Friendly”) you will have a hard time obtaining “free” formula You may have to bring your own, unless your doctor writes an order for formula. Technically, even if your hospital doesn’t “permit” you to bring in your own bottles and formula, policies are just that – policy. In the end you can do what you want. Same goes with having the baby in the room with you. Regardless of how you feed your baby, I would recommend against giving birth at a hospital that routinely takes babies to the nursery. Many hospitals no longer even have a nursery – rooming in with mom is standard.

    Also, if you feel harassed at the hospital for any reason – not just BF related – remember that if you have an uncomplicated vaginal birth there really is no need to stay the full two days. You and your baby may leave earlier (you may have to sign out “AMA”. You might enjoy recuperating at home much more.

    At my hospital, an LC sees EVERY new mother regardless of what she has stated about infant feeding. LCs are not there to harass you. There is some LC bashing going on in the comments above. Please try to remember that LCs are medical professionals – we are not in the business of giving you parenting advice. It is our job to give you the best evidence based medical advice – which is breastfeeding. In my case, when I encounter a mother who does not wish to breast feed I do ask her why; not to harass her, but to find out if she has the correct information. For example, if I encounter a mom like yourself who says, “This is my second child. I tried breastfeeding my first. I have weighed all the pros and cons, and this is not the right choice for us.” then I use my time with her to teach her about paced bottle feeding or answer questions she might have about what she should expect in terms of engorgement or milk “drying up”. On the other hand usually when I encounter a mother who doesn’t want to breastfeed she says something like “I’m not breastfeeding because I have to go back to work right away” or “I tried it with my first child and I just can’t make enough milk” or “I have breast implants so I can’t breastfeed.” In those cases I make sure the mother has the CORRECT information (the right to pump at work is protected by law, let’s find out why you think you didn’t make enough milk, most women with breast implants can breastfeed successfully) and then we move on from there.

    • Callie

      Emily, your attitude is great. I do want to point out that I was someone who said “I’m not breastfeeding because I have to go back to work right away,” and while the right to pump is protected by law, I didn’t WANT to pump at work (I did try first, though). Please, unlike some of the people I heard from, let that be reason enough after you check that they know it’s protected by law (as in, “Pumping at work is protected by law if that’s your concern, but not wanting to do so is also valid.)! Thanks for the work you do.

    • Suzy Q

      I would definitely advise against leaving the hospital Against Medical Advice (AMA) as this might jeopardize your insurance coverage.

    • J

      Emily, may I ask what you do in a situation if a mother tells you she doesn’t want your services/information? How do you handle it when a mother straight up says “because I don’t want to”? In my own opinion, and some may disagree, I can’t help but feel that this may be some of the pushiness others above have mentioned. You might not be judging, but it sounds like you’re still forcing yourself upon her. Whatever reason she gives is valid enough and shouldn’t be met with rebuttals.

  • Jodie

    Emily, it sounds like you’ll be a great LC. That said, I’ve experienced more judgey ones than amazing ones (though I have had that too!) and I’m a BFing mom three times now. While I agree your role is to give medical advice, based on the shared experience above, it also seems like some LCs forget that they should be doing it with good bedside manner.

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  • lindsay

    i second the advice about asking to be discharged early, which would mean that you simply won’t have the opportunity to encounter many of the people you are worried about.  i am currently pregnant with my second child and for several reasons, i did not have a great experience in the hospital last time, and i definitely plan to ask to be discharged early this time.  i would recommend waiting until after the birth to bring this up with your doctor, when you are sure that you and your baby seem ready to go home.  

  • Kimtoo

    I breastfed, but both of my children received formula at the hospital.  They were a few weeks premature, and they were also jaundiced (at least I think that was a reason – bit  of a haze now.)  Anyway, this as at a baby-friendly hospital in an area with extraordinarily high breastfeeding rates (crunchy granola town!) Both girls supplemented for the get-go, both girls breastfed until 18 mos.
    Gonna say this one, too, because it bears repeating – nobody can walk into a pre-school classroom and point out the kids that were breastfed, went through natural childbirth, cried it out, etc. Nobody.  Humans are amazingly complex, resilient creatures and most of them we all do just fine.

  • Frances

    I agree with the above comments about finding out more about the hospital you are delivering at. At many hospitals, the nurses are required to give you the “Breast is best” speech once, so that they can document that you have been educated. Medicaid reimbursement is changing, and breastfeeding rates play into that reimbursement. I’m only mentioning this so that you will be prepared that you may hear this during your stay. In my experience, most of the time the nurses are happy to honor your feeding choices, but are obligated to make sure that you are making an informed choice (and from your post I can tell that you are!) Just don’t automatically assume that pro-breastfeeding talk is meant to be judgemental…although certainly you may (will) run into that at some point (hopefully not in the hospital)!

  • Leah

    Good for you for making your feeding decision based on what works for you in your situation and not feeling pressured to conform to what other people think is best for YOUR baby.

    I’m giving birth at a World Health Organization “Baby Friendly” hospital where they openly admit to not giving formula as an option to anyone without (in their own words) “an act of God.” On our tour of L&D, the nurses did, however, say that if a family was positive about their decision to formula feed, they would honor it, with a written Rx from the OB or Pediatrician. Getting your doctor to put something official and not wishy-washy in your medical record might be very helpful in your case. People get insistent about seemingly minor things in their birth plans (Enya music, really?) that a legitimate, non-risky request should be an easy one for your medical team to honor.

    At the end of the day, you are the ultimate decision maker for what you feed your baby and whether or not that food will come from your own body. Don’t take it personally if your nurses have a “breast is best” mantra for you, since they tell countless women, many may not have done their bottle vs. breast homework, everyday. You obviously have thought a lot about this and your nurses should sense that you’re not a wayward sheep they need to herd. Good luck!

  • Natalie

    I formula fed from the get-go. Our baby is a heart baby (she has a heart defect) so nurses in NICU gave her formula without even asking. Incidentally, I didn’t produce very much anyway. I tried so hard for 8 weeks to give her breast milk but it just didn’t work for me. I guess my point is, we have an “abnormal” baby who is thriving on formula, has never had weight problems or immune deficiencies, and is rockin’. Be willing to test a few kinds of bottles (Dr Browns works for us) which I’m sure you experienced with your first baby. Be firm with the lactation consultants that you have made your decision, and you can even tell the nurses to ask the consultants to leave you alone. Everything will be fine 🙂

  • Ashley

    Thank you for this. I had to formula feed my first because my colostrum nor milk ever came in. I just had baby #2 5 days ago and am having the same issues. Today I tried to just feed from the breast and he has been screaming all day and I finally have in and he just chugged 4 ounces of formula. I feel terrible for starving him but was so desperate to try and produce milk. I even had a completely natural vaginal birth with no medication and an 11 pound baby in hopes my body would produce and it didn’t produce even close to the amount he needed. Oh well I did my best! I was starting to feel like I am the only mom that has 100% formula fed babies from birth.

  • Vesper

    I’ve never had other options than formula feeding so I’ve been down this path four times.  What I advise is finding out your hospital’s individual policies about infant feeding.  If they are part of the Baby Friendly Initiative, then there may be that form, and a few other hoops to work through, but it’s not impossible by any means.

    You CAN bring your own bottles and your own formula if that is what you prefer.  All four different hospitals I gave birth in were fine with that.  With my first child I discovered that the RTF (ready to feed) nursettes they give you are a bit thicker in consistency than the powder + water kind of formula that is common to use.  They always made my babies gag and throw up.  But…. If your baby handles the nursettes well, the RTF formula is actually very sterile and there is no worry about contamination.  You might also consider asking the staff to go over proper formula feeding preparations with you so that you know a bit about sterilizing, water and whether it needs to be boiled or not (this sometimes depends on area), and time frames of when to toss the bottle after baby has eaten from it, as well as why stretching (diluting) formula is a very bad idea.  There are lots of things no one explained to me.  They handed me a stuff and told me to figure it out.  Don’t let that happen, make sure you ask your questions and find out what you need to know so everything goes smoothly.  

    Don’t be daunting by lots of kinds of formula.  Start out with a typical type of formula of any brand you choose, and if baby’s tummy is extra sensitive, you’ll know if you need to switch soon.  Work with your Pediatrician, if that’s the case and make sure you give enough time after switching formulas to know for sure if there is any issues.  

    Most of the time the key factor in dealing with hospital staff like LC’s and Nurses is to be polite and kind even if you’re firm at the same time.  I used a lot of smiles, soft tones, and “thank you for your information or concern, nevertheless I’m aware of the best choice for our situation.”  At the end of the day you’re the mom, and it really is your choice.

    Congratulations on another baby arriving soon!  You’ll do just fine.

  • Alena

    Hi, I’m a first time mom to my son who is 2wks & 6days old today. He has been bottle fed since he was born, I tried breastfeeding he won’t take it so I pumped a few times and give him from the bottle he drank it but then he started spitting it out. So I continue to give him formula, I started him with Enfamil but he started to give constipated so I switch to Lacsogent. So far he’s been going off good. Everyone is telling me to breastfeed but if he isn’t taking it what should I do?? They make me think my baby is not getting all the nutrition he needs and I’m feeling guilty. 🙁 Also I find as soon as he pees he gets hungry. I try to feed him every 2 hrs but he gets hungry before. Do you have any advice for me?? I would very much appreciate it. Thanks. xx