For most women across the world, breastfeeding their babies is one of the most intimate and wonderful experiences in their lives. However, breastfeeding, in all its natural glory, isn’t a given for any woman. Your choice to breastfeed is a dedication that you need to work really hard for. But your ability to breastfeed isn’t something that happens easily.
This is because you or even your newborn could have a medical condition that stops you from feeding your baby. If you’ve had some form of breast surgery earlier, you may find it incredibly difficult and maybe even impossible to breastfeed properly. To put things into perspective, early breastfeeding struggles are one of the most prominent parenting issues that you may come across when you have to deal with a newborn.
For those of you who are seeking alternatives to breastfeeding, there are quite a few ways that you can use to boost your child’s health and immune system.
1. Find Donor Milk
Breast milk is a combination of fats, including the omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), proteins, lactose, vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, minerals, and antibodies. Colostrum, your first milk, is also known as your baby’s “first immunization” owing to the fact that it has all the ingredients needed to develop your kid’s gut health and overall immunity.
For those of you new mothers who just can’t produce milk on your own, finding donor milk is, by and large, your next best option. When it comes to finding a donor for breast milk, there are a couple of ways that you can go about the whole thing.
- First, you’d do well to find a donor that you’re familiar with. Having a personal relationship with the donor and knowing who the milk is coming from can make a big difference as you know how safe it really is.
- Second, you can choose to get breast milk from a milk bank that’s associated with a hospital. Usually, this kind of milk is in short supply and is pasteurized. Unpasteurized breast milk is always a better option as it contains live enzymes that can help your baby with digesting lactose and other proteins.
- Finally, you can opt for a wet nurse to feed your little one or even choose to find milk donors on social media platforms or other specialist sites on the internet.1
2. Use A Homemade Formula
When you’re not able to breastfeed on your own or are unable to find any donor milk, a homemade formula can be your saving grace. Using a homemade formula ensures the use of high-quality ingredients that come from real food sources rather than synthetic vitamins and minerals that you can get from a store. Making your own formula also stands you in good stead by allowing you to leave out low-quality additions that you may otherwise find in a commercial infant formula.2
Here’s a list of ingredients that you can use to prepare the best possible homemade formula:
- 2 cups of whole cow’s milk
- 1/4 cup of homemade liquid whey
- 7–8 cups of filtered water
- 4 tablespoons of lactose
- 2 or more tablespoons of cream
- 2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 teaspoons of grass-fed gelatin
- 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil
- 1 teaspoon of expeller-pressed sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of high-vitamin butter oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of Bifidobacterium infantis, a healthy probiotic strain
- 1/4 teaspoon of acerola powder
3. Buy Commercial Formula Only If It’s Organic
If you’re unable to breastfeed on your own, find donor milk, or prepare homemade formula, you could try your hand at a commercial formula that’s powdered and organic in nature. Avoid liquid formulations at all costs as they almost always contain BPA, an industrial chemical.
Another reason why choosing the right commercial formula is important is the fact that most of these baby formulas contain soy as the main ingredient as well as other harmful food additives like carrageenan, refined sugars, and hydrolyzed proteins. No matter how old your baby is, there are quite a few problems that can arise because of soy consumption. The issues with soy formula include these:
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Depressed thyroid function
- Development of adult infertility
- Blocked absorption of essential vitamins and minerals
4. Look Out For Help And Support
Wanting to breastfeed but feeling helpless to nourish your little one can be a devastating experience. In such a situation, sharing your stories and experiences with other mothers can be a great way for you to gain perspective and know about the unseen challenges. There are multiple support groups that you can be a part of to get additional guidance and support that you need to establish a lasting breastfeeding relationship.
Besides these breastfeeding alternatives, you’d also do well to provide your newborn with extra microbiome support. Having plenty of interactions, including kissing, skin-to-skin contact, snuggling, and even holding your child every day can enrich your little one’s microbiome. Adopting a probiotic-rich diet and minimizing the use of harsh soaps and shampoos as well as skin and hair care products can go a long way in helping you enhance your baby’s overall health.