Baby Formula – Curse or Cure?

When I used to work in retail pharmacy many years ago – and I mean many years ago before I was a mother myself, many women or mothers would approach me and ask where the Lanolin creams were kept. I would signal them to the last aisle – the baby care section because there was where these Lanolin creams were kept.

Now thinking back, I knew nothing about breastfeeding, let alone be in any position to help those mothers who could have been struggling with it. Of course I learned that breast milk has the most complete nutrients and many other benefits and should be offered to newborn babies whenever possible.

But really, I had no idea how difficult it could be.

When I finally had my first child, I had a very difficult time to get my breastfeeding going. From the sleepless nights to cracked nipples and the starving baby, I was at a loss of what to do. I was doing everything I thought possible, reading and trying different strategies to improve milk supply and visiting experts such as the lactation consultant. I felt like nothing was working fast enough.

Yes everywhere I read said my milk supply should come within 3-5 days of the baby’s birth. It didn’t come, or rather a grossly inadequate supply came but I had a crying baby who was hungry for milk that I was unable to provide.

I saw the formula bottles sitting in front of me.  They were samples sent by Nestles.

“Should I try formula?”, I thought to myself.

I was desperate and I did. I took the first bottle of formula and gave to my baby. She had a good few hours of sleep. I got some rest.

Then I got nervous because I didn’t want my breastfeeding plan to go down the drain.  For the next few weeks, I became obsessed with tracking how much my baby was receiving via baby formula, expressed breast milk as well as the amount of time she spent  on my breasts. Slowly and surely, her need for baby formula decreased. And it took about six weeks before I would say I had an adequate supply of breast milk without relying on any baby formula.

With my second child, the experience was a complete opposite. It was a classic textbook case – my milk supply came on day 4. No issues, no complaints and I had a very happy baby.

There are enough blogs and discussions on all the do’s and don’ts on breastfeeding and I don’t plan to give any advice. But I would say that if you are a first time mother, your milk supply may not come by day 4 and may take much longer. As in my case, it took up to 6 weeks to have an adequate supply.   And my take on baby formula? If it makes you happy and help to get through the rough times, then it is all worth it. You are the mother and you know what’s best for yourself and your baby.   Trust your maternal instinct and forget the ignorant comments.

Happy National Breastfeeding Week!


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My name is Cynthia Leung and I am a practicing pharmacist in Kingston Ontario, Canada. This blog is for me to share my ideas, opinions and perspectives on how medications are used in our health care system. Note that these posts are my own opinions and do not represent the opinions of my current or former employers and / or organizations that I may belong to. Any possible case scenarios described in my posts would be modified to maintain patient confidentiality. This blog is not a platform for professional advise for patients or health care providers and the content is not meant to support any clinical decisions or replace professional opinions. Also the images are either taken or created by the author, or adapted with permission. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts!

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