There are a number of reasons why someone might not be able to breastfeed—from no milk supply, to health issues, or maybe you’ve adopted a baby. Whatever the reason might be, if you cannot breastfeed don’t fret. While breastfeeding is highly recommended for your baby’s health and development, if you cannot do it, then it’s important to know there are alternatives available.
Before exploring alternatives to breast milk, it’s important to note that if you are experiencing supply issues, there are a number of things you can do to increase your supply. If this is your issue, it’s important that you continue to breastfeed and do not supplement with formula. The less you breastfeed, the less milk your body will produce. Of course, if you baby is not getting enough nutrition, then you might want to supplement, however, you should try to pump as frequently as possible in order to increase your supply. Dr. Sears’ website offers a wonderful list of suggestions for increasing your milk supply. The site does mention using herbs for increasing supply, but notes there are no scientific studies supporting their efficacy. That said, many moms have used the following herbs and preparations with success: Fenugreek, Mother’s Milk Tea, MilkMakers, and More Milk Plus, to name a few.
Donated Breast Milk
If you are unable to breastfeed, then you might want to consider feeding your baby breast milk from a donor. There are a number of programs bringing moms together who have excess breast milk to share with those who are in need. I’m of the opinion that you should verify the health of the person who is donating or selling their breast milk. According to the CDC website, exposure to infectious diseases (including HIV) can occur through shared breast milk. Of course, I like to believe that no one would knowingly pass along potentially dangerous breast milk for a baby to consume. Keeping that in mind, there are a number of organizations for mom’s to either get breast milk or pass it along. A couple of the larger ones are Milkshare and Only the Breast.
Make Your Own Formula
Some moms choose to make their own baby formula. The Weston A. Price Foundation lists three different recipes. They include a raw milk formula, a goat milk formula and a liver-based formula. I would recommend reading the reviews from people who have tried these formulas before giving each one a try. Additionally, I think it’s important to make only a single batch of formula just in case your baby doesn’t like it, or on the chance it may not agree with your little one’s system.
Earlier this year, a study out of Dartmouth University reported high levels of arsenic in some organic baby formulas. Keeping that in mind, I would recommend that any mom looking to feed her baby formula read the label. According to the report, “Organic brown rice syrup is often used as a substitute for high fructose corn syrup in prepared organic foods.” The study found that “foods that list organic brown rice syrup as a primary ingredient” contained high levels of arsenic. Some organic formulas currently available that either do not contain brown rice syrup or who have taken positive steps to eliminate arsenic from their formula include: Nature’s One, Similac Advance Organic, Earth Baby Organic, Vermont Organics, and Bright Beginnings Organic.
Whatever method you choose for feeding your baby, remember that being a happy, loving and healthy mom is one of the best ways to help your baby grow. While breastfeeding may be the best nutrition source for your baby, keep in mind that the alternatives are still quite acceptable so try not to be too hard on yourself if nursing is not an option.