L.G. asks from Janesville, MN on November 01, 2008
Feeling Pressured by Mother-In-Law to Supplement with Formula
My MIL and I got "into it" last night because I adamantly refuse to feed my son formula along with his breastmilk. My MIL says she's "concerned" (and states that she's not the only one, which means I'm being talked about behind my back) because my son isn't chubby. Must all 3 mo. olds be chubby? I remember reading in a book about pregnancy & exercise that babies born to mothers who exercise regularly (I rode my bike a lot) are a bit more slim than other babies. My baby was born at a healthy weight (9 lb. 2 oz.) and at 14 1/2 weeks old, he weighs about 13 1/2 lbs. This seems normal and healthy to me and I have never once thought about buying formula for him. I don't want to diminish my supply in any way. I guess what I'm asking here is: 1) is my son "okay" for his age/weight and non-chubbiness 2) have any other strictly-breastfeeding moms had this kind of pressure and what did you do about it, and 3) aren't breastfed babies supposed to be a little more slim and trim?
So What Happened?™
Thank-you so much to everyone who has responded so far! Now I don't feel like I'm so alone. I plan to "gobble up" the rest of your responses as they come in, go to all the websites some of you have suggested, and yes, I think I will use it as ammunition at least in my own defense. I'm so glad there are so many wonderful, supportive mamas out there! Thanks so much!!!
A.C. answers from Minneapolis on November 02, 2008
Babies come in all different colors, shapes and sizes! He ssounds like a healthy baby to me! My MIL also gave me a hard time and didn't understand the "big deal" on not giving my dd any formula. I am a SAHM and saw no reason to have to supplement with formula. Whenever she would bring it up, I would change the subject. Good luck!
B.B. answers from Madison on November 02, 2008
Don't listen to her. She's not a doctor and it's frankly none of her buisness.
I wasn't able to breastfeed my daughter for several reasons so aside from a few weeks was exclusivly formula feed. She was 5lbs 5oz at birth and continued to be low on weight. Now she's 3 and still thin. Some people are just thin and there's nothing wrong with that. You should nip this in the bud right now.
K.R. answers from Minneapolis on November 02, 2008
Is there a way to tell her that what was "known" to be correct about babies back when she had babies has changed quite a bit as doctors and pediatricians have done more and more studies and research on infant development?
I remember when my 11 year old was a baby, it was okay to start solids at 4 or 5 months. Just three years later, when I had my second child, the recommendation had changed to waiting until the child was 6 months.
Sorry I can't think of any way to help you, but ugh, I sympathize.
N.S. answers from Minneapolis on November 01, 2008
I've been there and done that...dealt with busy mil and the whole breastfeeding/skinny kid thing.
Here's some stuff to keep in mind, and maybe some good ammo for you;
Breastfed kids don't always look chunky like their formula fed counter-parts. Breastmilk, though loaded with colustrum (fats) is leaner and more fortified than manufactured formula products. Any good pediatrician will tell you, hands down, breastmilk can never be replaced by formula when it comes to nutrition.
There are plenty of studies that show, formula fed kids have a higher incidence of obesity and diabetes because of the many additives found in them. Do a search on the internet and you'll see what I mean. It is why so many hospitals and docs have gone back to really pushing breastfeeding vs. formula. Dr. Mercola among other health experts, has many great articles on the subject on his site.
There is also genes to take into account. If you and/or your husband are of slight build, your child is not going to be big.
All of my kids were thin and long. They were lean and lanky toddlers and once they hit age 6, they are very lean yet super muscular and strong. They're going to be athelets. They are all good runners and very healthy and strong. They're just super lean and long.
Our pediatrician always laughed because they were all off the charts in height and weight...but she never batted an eye at how thin and low in weight they were. I on teh other hand was always freaking out because my mother in law had me convinced there was something wrong with them. Now I know better. The big thing to worry about is whether or not they're eating well. While I'm going to guess your kids are fine, you can always get a second opinion from your pediatrician. I'll bet you'll hear what I heard.
Also, don't let this woman sidetrack your breastfeeding plans. If you are currently soley breastfeeding, you should know that the minute you begin to introduce formula to the mix, your own supply/production will decrease, and you may cause early weaning to occur.
Unfortunately, women from a certain generation don't see the value of breastfeeding. They were the first to be introduced to mass produced formulas and were conditioned to not appreciate the benefits of breastfeeding despite the obvious sacrifices that come with it.
My own mom didn't get the whole breastfeeding thing. And my mil definitely was against it. She thought I was "weird" and that "it" was "disgusting" and "unhealthy" to have a child fed this way. For some reason they or she had sex and other odd ideas mixed up with the primary purpose of breastfeeding, and couldn't understand why I wanted to do it. Any chance she got, she tried to sabatage.
I also later discovered she was resentful that as long as I breastfed, she wouldn't be able to bottle feed the baby. She felt I was denying her some "grandmother" experience becauase I exclusively breastfed. I did pump milk for her, but that totally freaked her out. I think I caught her dry-heaving...no kidding.
I say arm yourself with hard facts. There's plenty of good information out there that validates breastfeeding over formuula feeding. One very recent reason being the horrible crisis in China where thousands of infants and children are ill and some died because of "additives" found in formulas. There hasn't been alot of press here in the U.S. but there is evidence that these same additives are in some of our milk and dairy based foods and even candies.
I'd print up several articles, or even buy her a book that explains the benefits of breastfeeding. And most important have dad back you up and explain directly to her the benefits. Then close the deal with some other special activity she can do with the baby for some bonding time...something other than bottle feeding.
Some more resources;
I know I ramble, but I hope this helps.
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A.K. answers from Minneapolis on November 02, 2008
Don't listen to your mother-in-law. A lot of people from her generation don't understand breastfeeding, as it was encouraged to only formula feed. We know now that breast is always best. Although most babies who are breast fed end up chubbier in the first 6 months, and slimmer in the second than formula fed babies, all babies are different. Formula feeding WILL decrease your supply, and if your baby is happy and healthy than there is no reason to supplement. You will know if you aren't giving him enough milk if he is fussy and seems unsatisfied with feedings (don't worry though, this often happens in growth spurts and will subside after a few days, just let him suck as much as he wants and you both will get through it fine). Now, if you need to increase your milk supply, you can try herbs like fenugreek, and acupuncture. I have am studying to be an acupuncturist, and have weekly treatments. The points they needle for lactation, and the herbs they prescribe are very helpful, but it sounds like you don't need any of that right now. One more thing to think about is what is in formula. They are experimenting on babies. Even organic formula companies are putting DHA and ARA extracted from fungus and other dangerous sources into the formula, even though there is no real evidence of any benefit, and there are very few formulas that don't contain these substances. Also, they are putting nucleotides (the building blocks of DNA and RNA) in the formula now because they found nucleotides in breastmilk. However, there have been no reliable studies showing the benefits of these chemicals, let alone the dangers, and they do not know what exact amount to put in the formula. Basically, keep on doing what you are doing for as long as you can. Your baby WILL be healthier (even if he isn't chubby), and you will feel better for the service you are doing your child. Good luck, and don't let your mother-in-law tell you how to be a mother. You clearly know what you are doing.
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L.D. answers from Minneapolis on November 02, 2008
Your baby is fine. He sounds like a giant compared to my breastfed baby. She's almost 9 months old and maybe weighs 15 pounds.
Don't let someone talk you into doing formula. Your milk is made for your baby by you and it is what he needs. Most babies have trouble digesting formula anyway. Why would you want to make him sick?
It is often true that formula fed infants are chubbier than breastfed infants. This is because parents tend to over feed when they use a bottle. They see that there is an ounce left and keep putting the bottle in the baby until it is gone. With breastfeeding there is always milk and you let the baby decide when he is done.
Next time someone brings up you babies size and your feeding choice. Say "Thank you for your concern but my doctor and I are not concerned. He is healthy and gaining weight appropriatly."
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J.S. answers from Minneapolis on November 01, 2008
Good for you for nursing your son (and for a home birth - very brave!). My two boys were NEVER chubby, and were exclusively breastfed until 6 months. My second was 9 lb. 7 oz. at birth, but ended up being in the 7th percentile for his weight by about 5-6 months - and has remained there ever since (he's now almost 2). He was a 42 week baby so he seemed big to start, but genetically he's a small guy. My other son was also always slender, ranging from the 25th to 30th percentile for his weight.
My thoughts on your questions are:
1. If you are nursing to his demand, and he seems satisfied and not constantly hungry, then he is fine. Call his pediatrician and discuss the growth curve if you want some solid numbers to support your argument with your MIL. If he is growing and is healthy - no problems.
2. My mother in law too often made comments about giving my boys a bottle and how her kids were all fine and that one time wouldn't hurt him, etc. etc. etc. She is a pediatric nurse and has spent some years working in OB in the nursery, and was always telling me how the nurses gave the babies bottles even if the Mom's asked them not too... drove me nuts. What ended up happening is that she never really watched my kids until they were weaned around 16-18 months. It was sad that I felt I couldn't leave them with her, but I felt it was the best way to prevent her meddling with my parenting choices.
3. Totally depends on the baby :) My nephew was completely BF and was a tank! But, then at a year when he was weaned to 100% solids/table food (and really started moving around) he fell off the chart for his growth and everyone freaked out. I think it was just that his Mom had super milk, and he got super chubby!
Anyway, like I said, my boys are now 3 1/2 and almost 2 and are both still slender and active and totally healthy.
Good luck to you, and keep sticking to your guns on this one.. you know best for your baby.
SAHM to Charlie, Joey, and baby girl due Nov. 16
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S.N. answers from Seattle on November 02, 2008
Tell MIL that you and your pediatrician (who knows more about it than she does!) are perfectly happy with how your baby is doing EBF-ing. From there, I would quietly but firmly say, "So there is nothing more to discuss." If she continues, repeat, "There is nothing more to discuss."
If at all possible, you need to get your husband to step up and deal with HIS mom. "We appreciate that you care about Baby's well-being. However, WE are his parents. If you keep giving Wife a hard time, we may have to limit contact for awhile."
Sounds harsh? If she doesn't respect "There's nothing more to discuss," then it is required. Because it does NOT stop magically when they wean. There will always be something she is sure she knows more than you about. An opinion followed by silence can be okay. An opinion repeated over and over again until compliance is forced through erosion of YOUR mental health is NOT okay.
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C.F. answers from Green Bay on November 02, 2008
As a wife of a natural healthcare provider and mom of two breastfed babies (who were both not chubby), cudos to you for staying strong and you should definitely not feed formula. Here is why...
A baby gets everything...yes everything from momma through breastmilk. If for some reason baby is deficient in something, it is because momma is, so you shouldn't add something to baby's diet, but to momma's. Here is why: momma has little receptors on her nipple. when baby latches on, baby's saliva tells these receptors which tell momma's brain what to produce - for example, a baby who is 3 months needs diff amount of protein than a baby who is 8 months.
It is also very important to not supplement or give solids until the child has about 8 teeth or is 1 year = whichever comes first. this is about the time that the leaky gut closes. you want to wait to feed solids until after this time, because otherwise, you will set your child up to develop food allergies and other gut issues.
This has been researched, and my husband has helped many individuals REVERSE the damage that occured due to feeding solids too soon, or formula that was made of soy (very damaging).
My babies were soley breastfed till 1 year = they are very healthy and not chubby (but remember that formula fed will be definitely chubbier due to the fillers that can't metabolize and become fat)
Stick to what you are doing, and I agree that Mercola has some great info = Kellymom.com has good breastfeeding info as well.
You might want to check out some immune research as well = breastfeeding helps develop healthier kids - even the WHO supports bfing till 1 year.
I would definitely set boundaries with your MIL = but I do agree that she simply is reacting according to HER own knowledge on the subject - not research. Many moms were lied to and told that formula is better than breastmilk...formula manufacturers basically saying they are better than God. Our bodies were created soooo amazing and intelligent = I would trust my body over any man-made production. I think you would believe the same, as you believed your body could birth a baby without the 'assistance' of a hospital and its interventions. (I had two homebirths as well) :)
Stay strong, stick to your guns, check out www.holisticmoms.org for more resources and support and make sure to take a picture of that beautiful act of bfing before that precious little one grows up and you regret not taking a picture!
Let me know if you need help finding more research!
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A.H. answers from Davenport on November 02, 2008
First of all, NOBODY should be worried about a 3 month old being slim and trim- wether it's a bottle fed or breast fed baby. The only thing anyone should be worrying about is if the baby weighs ENOUGH. Of course there are extreme cases and conditions, but trust me, if your 3 month old were in that category, you would know it. I'm afraid if anyone is projecting concerns about body image already at 3 months, this poor baby is in for a long hard road of self esteem and body image issues...no fun. That being said, for the record, my doctor always told me that breastfed babies are traditionally heavier than formula babies because of the concentration of nutrients and yes, fat which is very important for brain developement in babies!! Nursing MOM'S are traditionally leaner. Secondly, it has been tested and proven over and over again that breastmilk is the ideal. It provides so many things for the baby that formula is just not scientifically able to. Your baby is lucky to have a mother who is able and willing to breastfeed and do not let anyone talk you out of doing what's best for your child...especially in the name of body image! There is nothing wrong with NOT breastfeeding. It's a personal choice. My husband was fed exclusively formula as a baby and has always thrived physically and mentally- he is very successful. But if you can and want to nurse, the approval of your mother in law is not worth sacrificing the health benefits your child is receiving, not to mention the bonding that only you and your babe can experience. This is YOUR time and your husband's with your baby. If your mil had any sense, she would back off and let you do what you know is best. Gentle suggestions and experiences are one thing, but telling you that you shouldn't breastfeed exclusively is completely crossing the line in my opinion. Follow your gut, Mom, mother's intuition is a very powerful thing.
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H.M. answers from Omaha on November 03, 2008
That is just absurd. I can't believe you are having to deal with this. Breast milk is far superior to formula. Unless your baby is constantly hungry and you aren't providing enough milk why in the world would you supplement with formula and ruin your supply of milk! That is the SILLIEST thing I've heard in awhile.
Your son's weight seems fine to me. If it wasn't and your doctor had a concern you'd be the first to know. Maybe your child just has a good metabolism. All babies are different. They most certainly don't have to be chubby!
I had pressure with my second TO breastfeed. I couldn't unfortunately due to health problems and meds I had to take not being good for the baby. So I dealt with the opposite of you. I would simply say breast milk is best, my child isnn't constantly hungry, I'm making enough milk and I KNOW what is best for my child. But thanks for your concern. Of course in the nicest way possible. But don't let them bully you! You do know what is best!
My son was fully breastfed for about a year and he was Normal... He gained in his weight curve like he was suppose to. He was born at 7 pound 10.5 ounces... And again gained apporopiately. He was never fat. He was always just normal looking. My daughter on the other hand was born premature she was 6 pounds 5 ounces when born. Again she gained on her curve BUT she was bottle fed. She was never over weight or chubby either. She was just NORMAL for her birth weight. So see maybe your baby is just like mine were and stay nice and healthy no matter what they are fed! Who is to say chubby is best!!
So stop worring and don't let them bully you into feeling insuffiencent as a mother! I'm terrible sorry you are going through this when you should be just worrying about enjoying your baby. Tell them all as polietly as you can to leave you alone and do just that... Enjoy that baby!
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