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Thread: Pressure to introduce formula

  1. #1

    Default Pressure to introduce formula

    Hi, my firstborn child is 9 weeks old. I have been EBF since he was born. The midwives, PHN and GP have all been extremely satisfied with his progress. He has gained approx half a pound per week since birth. He is feeding every 2-4 hrs during the day, and every 5-6 hrs during the night. Seems to be going good. However, throughout most of this time, he has also been extremely fussy. He seems to cry at a much more frantic level than what my mother, mother-in-law and partner think is considered "normal" for a baby - he literally kicks off, going from a smiling placid baby to a screaming inconsolable baby in a matter of seconds. I seem to be able to read his signals now, often he is crying due to wind, and will settle down after a burp or spitting up. Sometimes he is over-tired, and will give in when craddled and rocked to sleep with some music. Laying him on his back to change his nappy, holding him in different positions, switching on some background white-noise etc, can all distract him from his screaming for a few minutes at a time before it starts up again - he literally switches it on and off in 2 seconds - so I don't think that he is in pain when he is screaming. But my family members are all pressuring me to introduce formula to see if it resolves his frantic crying. I'm not keen to do so... I think that he is getting enough at each feed. I offer the breast more frequently as a last resort when he is crying like that, sometimes he refuses it (leading me to believe he has wind), and sometimes he'll take a short feed and put himself to sleep (leading me to believe he was over-tired). But from the response from family members, I am being made to feel selfish for continuing to EBF when there is some "underlying issue" that is upsetting him. BTW I've tried Infacol (which didn't work for him), and Gripe Water (which does actually help get up his wind with less of a struggle)... but still the crying, and now family members keep asking me to introduce formula as a test and see if that improves things. Of course, none of the medical personnel I've encountered will advise on introducing formula, they maintain that in this case, breastfeeding is going well as he is "thriving" - clearly gaining weight and sleeping for longer periods at night time. Please - any thoughts on what may be causing his frantic crying, and whether or not introducing formula for some of his feeds might actually improve things? From what I've read on the subject, I think that it may only make him sleep longer as he'll be fuller from the formula feed, and that it may even make any colicky/tummy pains he may be having worse. I'm finding it hard to believe that so many family members would pressure me into formula feeding a baby who seems to otherwise be doing well on breastmilk. They really are making me feel guilty for not trying it. As it is my first child, I don't know what level of crying is "normal" but he really does work himself into a state sometimes, and I just want what is best for him.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pressure to introduce formula

    Hi mama, welcome to the forums and congrats on the baby

    I don't think your baby's behaviour sounds all that unusual. Baby's tend to be fussy sometimes, especially if they're gassy! It sounds like you're doing a great job with nursing - baby is gaining weight - is he meeting other milestones, having enough wet/poopy diapers? I think it's great that you have health care professionals that are supportive of your decision, and are not on board with trying formula. I think this might be a case of having to put your foot down - you're the mother, you're making the decisions about nutrition, and formula is not an option."Case closed, I'd appreciate if you didn't bring it up. I'm not going to change my mind"

    One thing that does stand out in your post is that you 'offer the breast as a last resort' -personally, I would offer the breast first to see if that pacifies him.

    Sorry you're having to deal with this, mama, but hold strong...you're doing a great job!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pressure to introduce formula

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*carm3 View Post

    One thing that does stand out in your post is that you 'offer the breast as a last resort' -personally, I would offer the breast first to see if that pacifies him.

    Sorry you're having to deal with this, mama, but hold strong...you're doing a great job!


    I agree with everything PP said. The only thing I might suggest is to try offering MORE. In the early days, it is common to nurse much more frequently than 2-4 hours. Breastfed babies typically nurse at a MINIMUM 8-10 times per day during the early days (although there is variability). Since you said everyone is happy with weight gain, etc., I'm sure he's getting plenty, but it might help with the fussies. Crying is a late sign of hunger, and babies often nurse just for comfort. But I'm not saying that's the cause of the crying - there are all sorts of reasons that babies are hard to soothe.

    For the record, there is NO reason to believe that formula would solve your baby's fussies. You are right that it could make his tummy troubles worse.

    Sounds like you don't have friends/family who are breastfeeding or knowledgeable about breastfeeding. I highly recommend you find a local breastfeeding support group. It is really helpful to have people around you who are supportive of your parenting choices so you don't find yourself second-guessing yourself all the time.

    You're doing great mama, hang in there.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pressure to introduce formula

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*carm3 View Post
    I think this might be a case of having to put your foot down - you're the mother, you're making the decisions about nutrition, and formula is not an option."Case closed, I'd appreciate if you didn't bring it up. I'm not going to change my mind"
    Couldn't more with the above! If you're a first-time mom, it can be really hard to transition from being the dutiful daughter (or daughter-in-law or younger sister or niece) who always accommodated the opinions of others, to being the tough mommy who is willing to stand up to a respected elder and say "I am the mom, it is MY DECISION. If you don't like it, that's too bad."

    Clearly there is absolutely nothing wrong with your milk, because your baby is gaining weight just fine and your healthcare providers seem delighted with his progress. I, too, would try offering the breast more often, and trying it as a first resort rather than a last resort when baby is fussy.

    Does the fussiness strike or intensify at any particular time of day? Perhaps in the evenings?
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Pressure to introduce formula

    Wow, -selfish to breastfeed your child. What a load of rubbish. i don't know about your baby but this certainly makes ME feel like crying!

    There is never ever ever in the world any reason to give a baby formula unless the baby cannot get any or enough breastmilk. Formula is a breastmilk substitute, one with many potential health drawbacks, and is to be used only in the absence of the real thing, and despite what anyone thinks, it has no magic powers to stop a baby crying. (or make a child sleep longer-this is a fairy tale based on oft repeated stories and not on any research at all.) Formula is not more satisfying or healthier in any way than breastmilk, and it certainly is far more likely to cause gastrointestinal issues.

    If there is an 'underlying issue' that would mean your baby is ill. A baby who is gaining well is unlikely to be seriously ill. But in any case, formula does not cure any illnesses either.

    Since your baby is gaining 8 ounces a week that indicates your baby is getting enough breastmilk. Nursing more often cannot possibly hurt, so it never hurts to offer to nurse. It is true that a baby this age will usually want to nurse quite frequently-8 or more times a 24 hour day. Often much more. Yes babies even 2 month old babies nurse day and night, this is normal. Babies will want to nurse for comfort (usually) as well as food, and that is normal and healthy and fine. If by any chance you are scheduling feedings, holding off on feedings or trying to stretch out time between feedings I suggest not doing so. Just nurse at the earliest cues as much as you can. Day and night.

    I have no idea if the level of crying is "normal' or not. Babies are born with different personalities and some are far more apt than others to cry, or to cry quickly, or to cry loudly. Since you do not think it is painful crying I won't bother with ideas for that.

    How many of the family members actually live with you and/or regularly help you with your baby? Anyone who actually has to deal with the screaming baby, I suggest that you tell them that you understand their concerns but since your doctors have (thank goodness) sided against formula and with you continuing to nurse, that is what you have decided to do, and you would appreciate their support. end of discussion.

    Anyone else, I would suggest avoiding for now as much as possible.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pressure to introduce formula

    You're doing a great job momma - keep up the good work! The only thing I could think to add is perhaps giving your family some info about breastfeeding? I know my mother never BF and her generation was encouraged to use formula because it was supposed to be better (crazy I know). A little info could go a long way, especially when brought up conversationaly....

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pressure to introduce formula

    Some babies cry more than other. Some babies are what we called "High Need" meaning they startle easy and/or really really need to be held ALL.THE.TIME. That is just the way they are wired. I promise you that the answer to that is not to feed them substandard nutrition because someone who is clueless about breastmilk and what it does suggests it. Your baby IS thriving. Junk food is never the answer.

    Way too lazy for formula

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pressure to introduce formula

    My baby cried from 5 pm until she eventually went to sleep, anywhere from 11 pm to 1 a.m., every night from about 7 to 12 weeks. No one in my family had ever breastfed, so they were also pressuring me to use formula, and we had just weaned off supplements around that time. We were all convinced something was "wrong," because even the lactation consultant kept telling me she couldn't possibly be hungry and wanting to eat that much (although she told me to offer the breast anyway to "humor her"). So I'd finish nursing, she'd start screaming, and my family, if they were visiting, would act like I just didn't know what I was doing and they should help because she couldn't possibly be hungry. They'd walk her around, and when I'd say she still seemed hungry, they'd try to delay giving her back. Then they'd say, "If she's that hungry, then something's wrong." I now know that wasn't true, but the stress of thinking I was doing everything wrong was very bad for me and the baby.

    We found Gripe Water to be a lifesaver on many occasions, but it didn't always work. We never knew why she was crying so much, and it just seemed like a tough time for her during those weeks. She wouldn't even nurse sometimes, and would latch, pull off, scream, kick -- we just had to try other ways to comfort her. Warm baths worked, but then it makes you want to stay in the bath forever as the crying starts up again right after. I now see that this is "normal," although very unpleasant. There's no guarantee you or your DH didn't cry like that as a baby. I think some moms just forget such things!

    But my LO is an extremely happy and silly 18-month-old now, so it does not last and it is not an indication of your child's personality. Just try to stick it out and do what you can to keep everyone happy. When my family was visiting for a weekend and baby was like that, I essentially said, "It's her bad time starting now and she'll be screaming for a while. See you in the morning." Then I'd go upstairs with baby and keep her up there so my family could watch TV downstairs and do whatever they wanted. In the morning, baby would be in a better mood so they'd play with her then.
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Pressure to introduce formula

    When baby wakes from a nap, change his bum and offer the breast. If he doesn't want it, fine. If he does, nurse.
    When baby fusses (head back and forth), offer the breast.
    When baby sucks on his hands, offer the breast.
    When baby cried, offer the breast.
    After a poopy diaper, offer the breast (my kids are always STARVING after a poopy diaper ).

    It really is the go-to, one-stop, one-size fits all solution! If he starts to fuss mid-nursing session, try to take a break to burp him. At that age, I often found a good burp would come up and they'd be right as rain, back to nursing. You CANNOT nurse him too often. He'll only nurse when he wants to, you can't force him. At that age, want = need, need = want. There's never any harm in offering. There can be however, in withholding it from baby.

    When baby is upset your first stop should always be to offer the breast. Hot on it's heels is checking their diaper and burping. If burping doesn't seem to help, see if bicycling his legs helps him to pass some gas. Also make sure you aren't overdressing baby so that they're too hot or that you're underdressing so that they're cool. Check clothing to make sure he's not being pinched by the tags or anything. Have you tried baby wearing? If he's eaten and has a clean bum, burped well and is still fussing, wearing him in a sling or wrap may be the ticket.

    You'll figure it out - but under no circumstances will offering formula help an already healthy and happy baby. That's like taking someone who eats healthily and telling them that eating McDonald's will make them feel better. It's just silly.

    Keep in mind that they are probably just concerned and want to help the baby and give you a break. What they need to know is that their constant suggestions that your milk "isn't enough" or that some chemically created formula is somehow better for your baby than you are, is NOT HELPING. It undermines your efforts, creates stress.... You don't need it. The doctors are happy with his progress and weight gain. There's no need for it to come up in discussion again, so drop it.
    Mommy to our DD1 early bird (34 weeks, 2 days, 7lbs, 14oz)! Oct. 2nd, 2008 Emergency C-Section, Frank Breech, HEALTHY Girl!
    Weaned @ 17 months
    Our DD2 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 12oz) Aug. 10th, 2010 Our Successful VBAC, growing like a bad weed!
    Weaned @ 15 months
    Our DD3 early bird (37 weeks, 3 days, 7lbs, 6oz) Feb. 16th, 2012 Our 2nd VBAC and lightening speedy birth!

    Loving being a Mom of 3, 40 months apart!!
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