Breastfeeding can sometimes be a challenge and the fact is that it’s not for everyone. According to NCBI, 20-23% of new mothers experience lactation difficulties, and around 2% to 5% are unable to lactate for some of the reasons mentioned earlier. In some cases, it’s the baby that experiences some challenges. Those who have intellectual disabilities, a cleft palate, or those born prematurely might not be able to latch as effectively as other babies. Situations like these call for alternatives to breastfeeding.
Here are some suggestions to help ensure that your kids get the adequate nutrition they need to thrive, even if you can’t breastfeed or have a low milk supply.
- Get breastmilk from a donor
Milk from another mother is the next best thing to your milk. It is more suitable than any cow’s, goat’s, camel’s or plant’s milk, even when they are highly fortified. Parents may opt for wet nursing or having their child nurse from another mother. If the idea of latching from another seems taboo to you, you may get milk from milk banks instead. Milk banks receive donations from other mothers, to support and help pre-term and ill babies. Milk banks screen donor mothers for HIV and other illnesses so that receiving mothers can rest assured that the milk isn’t compromised. The milk gathered is also pasteurized to guarantee safety and cleanliness.
- Use a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS)
When you are trying to breastfeed but not having enough milk flowing, you can use the Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) instead. With SNS, a thin feeding tube is attached to a formula bag or a bottle, that you place next to your nipple as your baby feeds. This method is used to ensure that the baby gets the nutrients he needs and solidifies the mother-infant bond. It also helps establish proper sucking.
- Pump and store
Pumping breastmilk and storing it for the baby to feed through a bottle gives flexibility for those families whose mom cannot be with their infant all the time. This is an opportunity for dads and other family members to bond with the baby and while still providing milk (although not exclusively).
The formula is the most popular alternative to breastfeeding. It is a powdered and fortified version of an animal’s milk (cow, goat, carabao, camel). It mimics all the nutrition found in breast milk, save for the colostrum and antibodies, so you can rest assured that your baby is nourished. This is much easier than breastfeeding and is especially beneficial for single working moms or babies with latching issues. In choosing a formula, you have three options: the organic, the inorganic, and the homemade. The first two are similar in nutritional density, but the organic version usually uses ingredients that are not genetically-modified or are free from pesticides. On the other hand, the homemade formula is a combination of broth and milk, which are nutrient-rich, fresh, and easy to digest for the baby. These excellent sources of proteins, healthy fats, and probiotics are made using chicken broth, lactose, raw milk, coconut oil, EVOO, cod liver oil, water, cream, expeller-pressed sunflower oil, and egg yolks.
Each person’s journey in life is unique, and breastfeeding is no exception. Again, choosing to breastfeed or otherwise is a personal choice. Whether your reason not to breastfeed is because of underlying medical complexities, or because it’s just not in your comfort level, whatever you choose is okay. You’re a parent who wants what’s best for your family, and breastfeeding should not be the ultimate gauge for your child’s love.
So be kind to yourself and embrace motherhood. It is the best role there is!