Liesel from Mommy Labor Nurse On Supplementing with Formula

Making the decision to introduce formula can feel scary-- especially if you get pushback from your postpartum nurses or your child’s pediatrician. That’s why we reached out to some of our favorite medical providers (and baby experts on Instagram!) to get the scoop about why they chose to supplement or formula feed. 

Today we’re bringing you an interview with Liesel Teen, the registered nurse and mom of two behind @Mommy.LaborNurse-- a fantastic resource for all things pregnancy and postpartum. With nearly 300,000 followers on Instagram, Liesel is highly regarded by moms around the world for her easy to understand and helpful content. 

We’re thankful that she agreed to share her story with us and we hope it encourages you that using formula is totally fine. Read on for her journey with supplementing!

Why Did You Decide to Supplement?

I supplemented pretty much from the beginning for my little guy! My son Walter was small when he was born - only 6lb 4oz at birth. I began breastfeeding him around the clock immediately (because my original plan was to exclusively breastfeed him for as long as possible), but my milk didn’t fully come in until day 4-5 after his birth. 

After the 3rd day of only colostrum, he lost about 11% of his body weight and he became jaundiced. The pediatrician suggested we supplement with a few ounces of formula after my nursing sessions to help get his weight back up and to reduce his jaundice. We continued to do this routine (feeding him an ounce or two after nursing sessions) for the next few weeks. 

What Were Your Feelings about Supplementation?

I definitely struggled with guilt and shame at first regarding giving him formula from the get-go. I struggled with wondering, “Why am I not making enough milk for him?” and like I “wasn’t trying hard enough.” This resulted in a lot of stress and obsessive feelings about my milk supply (even though I was trying EVERYTHING). 

What really helped was seeing Walter doing so well-- getting his weight gain up and keeping it steady. He never experienced nipple confusion, tummy issues or any sort of reaction to the formula. He was happy as a clam! 

I started to look at supplementing with formula and our feeding choices as a “journey” instead of a “struggle.” 

Eventually we moved to giving him a bottle or two of formula per day, and I started to enjoy the convenience of it. It was great for allowing my husband to get more involved with feeds (he would typically feed Walter his formula bottle if he were home with us at the time of his feed). It was also nice when we were with my family and friends that I could have someone else feed him, instead of sit and nurse him - that I definitely enjoyed!

And I was able to keep nursing him past his first birthday, even when we stopped formula altogether. I wish I knew at the beginning that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing - especially if you really enjoy breastfeeding your baby (and I totally did)!

How Did You Decide Which Formula to Use?

I started by using the brand that was offered to me by my pediatrician as they had given me samples at the office when we first supplementing. After a few months, I began to do more research on organic formulas, including the differences between organic vs. non-organic options.

I switched to an organic brand at that point after talking to my pediatrician. Based on my research and what’s important to me personally, using an organic formula was right for us.

What Would You Tell A New Mom Who’s Thinking About Formula Feeding?

That “fed is best”! I struggled a lot with thinking that “breast is best” in the beginning, but after seeing how happy my baby was with our supplementing routine (and also realizing the conveniences it provided me) I totally changed my thought process.

I also like to tell moms that it’s totally okay and normal to have the same feelings I had - those feelings are valid! There is a LOT of societal pressure these days to breastfeed. If you’re having those feelings, talk therapy was SO beneficial for me and I encourage anyone to reach out to a therapist. I wish I had done this while we were actually still formula feeding. 

Formulas are so similar to breast milk nowadays and they provide so many of the same benefits. Formula is a wonderful alternative to breast milk if you decide to exclusively formula feed, and I encourage moms that supplementing is 100% okay too! 

It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can do both and still have a long-term breastfeeding relationship. I wish I knew that from the start.

Thanks, Liesel!

We are so appreciative that Liesel was willing to share her story with us. Be sure to follow her on Instagram @mommy.labornurse and listen to her MommyLaborNurse podcast for more great content.

If Liesel has inspired you to try an organic formula, we have options for you! Check out our Best Organic Baby Formula: 2020 Buyer’s Guide for more information or visit our Choosing the Right Formula blog post for recommendations. We’re confident that Huggable can help you find a formula that you can feel great about.

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