Krista Gray, IBCLC

Krista Gray, IBCLC – Lactation Services

Positioning and attachmentWhether you’re preparing to breastfeed or need support with your current situation, Krista Gray, IBCLC – Lactation Services is here to help.  I am a certified lactation consultant and offer face-to-face and online breastfeeding support (as well as prenatal breastfeeding classes) to assist you in meeting your breastfeeding goals.   I see clients throughout the Upstate of South Carolina and North East Georgia as well as via Skype and FaceTime worldwide.

Lactation Consultations

Initial Consultation – $135 for a 1 – 1 1/2 hour private consultation.  Sometimes you just need that bit of extra support to get breastfeeding off to a good start or to overcome challenges. I can help you reach your personal breastfeeding goals. This visit can take place in your home or my home office.  (Follow-up phone/text/emails for home or office consultations are always free!) Discount for clients who have a prenatal appointment with me.*

Follow Up Consultation – $75 For new concerns and follow up appointments*

Pump Consultation – $60 Heading back to work and want to make sure your pump is working properly? I can help get your pump set up, ensure the flanges are the right size, and share tips and information about maintaining your supply as you return to work.*

Virtual Consultation – $50 I offer virtual breastfeeding consultations worldwide via Skype or FaceTime. (Up to one hour consultation; Payment made via PayPal) 

Telephone/E-mail Consultation – $30 Do you have a specific breastfeeding question? I can discuss this with you on the telephone (up to 30 minute call) or through e-mail.

Monthly Retainer Option – $150 For those who would like me to be available for unlimited calls/texts/emails throughout the month.  There is no limit to how often you can contact me and, if I am not available at the time of a call/email/text I will always respond the same day.

*In home rate applies to homes within 15 miles of 29655 zip code.  Beyond that area, there will be a fuel surcharge and hourly travel fee, which will be quoted at time appointment is made.

*Payment can be made with cash, check, and PayPal.

*Payment is expected at the time services are rendered.  Nursing Nurture does not file insurance on your behalf, but will provide you with an itemized Super Bill for your health insurance provider.

What happens during a consultation? Find out more here.

Download the forms for your breastfeeding consultation.

Learn more about Krista Gray, IBCLC or contact Krista to schedule a lactation consultation. Continue reading »


Adoption and Breast Milk

mom baby on beachCasey Brown is a wife, Paramedic-turned-stay-at-home mom, and adoptive mom of one princess. She is passionate about adoption and breast milk and her journey to make sure her baby could have breastmilk in the NICU hit the national stage in social media.  She encourages other adoptive mamas to fight for the liquid gold, to not back down, and stand up for what they believe in. Ending discrimination against adoptive mamas has become a passion of Casey’s.  She is co-founder of the company Quiver Full Adoptions, an adoption consultation service based out of Greenville, SC.  You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

When I was little, I had one million baby dolls. Almost. I played “house” every single day and ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a mama. Not a teacher, not a doctor, but a mom. Maybe that desire came from seeing my mom making it look like the best “job” in the world. I won’t bore you with the details or make you feel inferior by telling you about how awesome my mother is, instead, I’ll tell you about the day I found out I was going to be a mom. Let’s rewind. My husband and I had been married four years and had been trying to conceive since the day we were married. Hey! I told you I wanted to be a mom! The stars weren’t aligning and the doctors were saying I would need science to help our dreams come true. Science. That’s something I was familiar with, being a Paramedic for three years and being in the health field for seven. After much prayer, Josh and I decided to forgo the science and medicine and pursue adoption. Adoption had always been in our hearts and on our minds, but something that we imagined doing when our biological children were older.

Three weeks after announcing that we were adopting, we were matched with our birth mom. Now if that wasn’t a sign from the good Lord, I don’t know what is. Crystal, our birth mom, asked me to attend her doctor’s appointments with her, and of course I said, “Yes!” I was going to be a mom and she was allowing me to experience as much of the process as I could. During the second or third doctor appointment, I was sitting in the room with Crystal, and she sat up on the exam table and said, “Have you thought about breastfeeding your baby?” Wait. What? Our birthmom has to be the coolest birthmom on earth to be asking me this question. I replied, “No,” although I had actually been thinking about it. I had been in contact with Krista Gray from Nursing Nurture and had already started the Newman-Goldfarb protocol – that’s how much I had thought about adoption and breast milk. I’m not sure why my immediate response was “No,” it wasn’t meant to deceive her, it was just a knee jerk reaction. I later told her the truth and she was very supportive. Crystal was already sixteen weeks pregnant when I began the protocol. Ila Mae, my princess, was born six weeks early and had a two week stay in the NICU. I had no time to stop the birth control and begin pumping, as the protocol needs eight weeks of pumping to start producing milk. Ila Mae was on a ventilator, had a chest tube due to a collapsed lung, and was on TPN. Seeing her fragile, tiny four pound, thirteen ounce body lying in the isolette, I knew I had to do something to get her that liquid gold. I did what any mama would do. I fought. Then I took on the hospital.  Below, you will find my Facebook post that went viral just a few days after Ila Mae was born.

“Baby Ila Mae was born July 23. The adoption papers were completed today. Through this group [Breast Friends] and Adoptive Breastfeeding group, I have begun the Newman Goldfarb Protocol. I haven’t started

NICU battle for adoption and breast milk

NICU battle for adoption and breast milk

pumping yet to induce lactation. I have a ton of donor milk that I was planning to use with my Lact-aid. Today, I experienced bullying for the first time that I can remember. It was so real. I said to the nurse, ‘When Ila Mae gets off the ventilator, we have breast milk that we want her to have instead of formula.’ She looked at me like I had three heads, turned around and went and got the lactation consultant. This lady comes over and says, ‘So, I hear you have breast milk. Where did you get it?’ This breast milk comes from my best friend. I told her this and she looked at me like I was disgusting and said, ‘you cannot use that unless you get it from a milk bank.’ I said ok, and asked how to go about doing that and if I could see the protocol they have set in place that says I cannot use donor milk. They could NEVER produce one and then finally admitted that they had never had this happen ‘because adoptive moms just don’t do this kind of thing. Mam, if you want to give this baby donated milk, then you’ll have to do it when she is actually yours in your own home.’ Ummmm, I about lost it at this point. This baby is MINE. Then, I leave and come back three hours later in hopes that she has left, only to get cornered by her and the neonatologist. While I was gone, they decided that I wouldn’t be able to use milk from a milk bank ‘because there isn’t one close enough’ and 4pounds 13 ounces isn’t a low enough birth weight and adoption isn’t a special circumstance that they could write a prescription for.’ They went on to tell me about all of the “risks” of donor milk and I politely informed them of how misinformed they are. My question is, would y’all be willing to write a letter to this hospital informing them of the benefits of breast milk, donated whether through a milk bank or not, and the non benefits of formula? They also told me that in order for me to use the Lact-aid, I’d have to have blood work done!! WTH?! Seriously? Ok, what’s the difference then? Why can’t my milk donor go have blood work done to show she isn’t infectious and then allow me to use her milk? I’m so aggravated that I can’t make an informed decision and I have been bullied into using formula. It will still be a few days before she is off the ventilator and able to nurse, but this is a big deal to me!”

Adopted yet thriving on breast milk!

Adopted yet thriving on breast milk!

Six months later, here I am reading what I posted on Facebook, and all I can see is how stressed I sounded. I could hardly form complete sentences. The group Breast Friends has approximately 5,000 members. About 300 of them wrote the hospital handwritten letters, fighting on behalf of me and my princess. Four of the members called the hospital, and one of the members spoke directly with the President of the hospital. After some threatening of getting the news involved and threatening to picket on the sidewalk while mothers nursed their babies, the hospital finally caved. They finally agreed to get me the donor milk from a milk bank. I compromised since they were getting me breast milk, to agree to not use the Lact-aid and to not use my personal stash of donor milk. Ila Mae is now six months old and has never had a drop of formula. We have had a total of eighteen milk donors (plus how many ever donors from the milk bank), all friends or friends of friends. (And due to Casey’s battle with the hospital, the policy has officially been changed regarding donor milk.  Here is more information on Spartanburg Memorial in SC.)

You have a choice, mamas! You don’t have to settle for fourth best, according to the World Health Organization, you can have that liquid gold. Fight if you have it in you, settle if you don’t. Either way, I won’t judge you, but I will stand behind you if you decide to fight!

You may also be interested in reading more about Adoptive Breastfeeding, Induced Lactation, 5 Challenges of Adoptive Breastfeeding, and Tube Feeding Devices.

Nursing a Toddler in Public

Toddler Nursing – “I Nurse My Toddler Because…”

julie mom

Julie M., author of “Toddler Nursing – I Nurse My Toddler Because” lives in the Midwest with her husband and two daughters. She’s a registered nurse and enjoys writing about her journey of motherhood at Don’t Lick Your Sister.
See more from Julie on Twitter and Pinterest.

I recently came across Wendy Wisner’s wonderful blog. Wendy has a beautiful way of describing motherhood and I was moved when I came across her post I Nurse Him Because, in which she describes the reasons she nurses her toddler son. While the entire post was great, what really struck me was this statement: This is what feels right to us, and many more mothers and children than you might expect.

When I thought about that, I couldn’t help to think how true a statement that likely is. I, myself, have found out mothers I know personally had nursed their toddlers, but at the time, I had no idea. What’s most interesting to me is that I consider myself a breastfeeding advocate, someone who openly talks about breastfeeding and the normalization of nursing. When my children were under a year old I definitely spoke very openly about nursing. It was occurring quite frequently so the topic would naturally come up. I also talked openly about pumping at work, proudly placing my expressed milk in the public refrigerator. I nursed in public, sometimes with a cover but most of the time, without.

When my daughter was under two, I still talked about nursing her but much less often. Maybe that’s just because I was nursing less often? I’m not sure. I might say something about being glad she was still nursing because I was able to calm her down with my milk after having to give her a breathing treatment when she was wheezing. Or I would mention my anxiety about going out of town without my child and not nursing during that time, concerned about how she would do. Once she was over one year old I only nursed at home or at the homes of close family and friends. Never out in the true public but this was mostly because she was no longer nursing when we would be out during the day.

Now, my daughter is almost two and a half. And I rarely, if ever, talk about the fact that she’s still nursing. If it comes up in conversation or if someone asks I will, of course, still talk about it. But not much more than that. I did write about it on my blog in my post For the Last 5 Years but I didn’t even share that post on my personal Facebook page. It’s not at all that I’m ashamed of it. I guess it’s just not something our culture entirely accepts and I have no desire to feel judged for something that I feel is completely natural and normal.

However, the world can’t know it’s completely natural and normal if it’s not ever seen or discussed. So, this post is motivated by Wendy’s words about her reasons for nursing her toddler and my acknowledgment that nursing a toddler is happening more than you might think.

I nurse my toddler because…

  •  She asks. Each night, right before bed. She used to say “mil! mil!” and now it’s “I want mommy’s milk.” Sometimes I will ask her if she would like to just snuggle instead and she says “no, milky.”

    Nursing a Toddler

    Toddler Nursing

  • I can. I am so fortunate to still be able to nurse as I know very well that many women have struggles that don’t allow them to nurse to their goal. I surpassed any goals I may have had and I feel fortunate that I can still nurse.
  • When she falls asleep while nursing she looks exactly the same today as she did on the day she was born.
  • In the busy, loud and distracting world we live in I am able to slow down and connect with her in this way that only I can.
  • She still likes to be held and snuggled a lot. I can’t help but think that if we didn’t have our extra snuggle time together at bedtime nursing she may want to be held even more during the day. She then might miss out on some of that independent play time where she can just be a wacky little toddler.
  • It’s warm and cozy and makes us both happy.
  • In a way, it makes me feel like I am stopping time, if only for a short moment each evening while we are together.
  • I can ask her what it tastes like and she can respond with answers such as bana, pea soup, pancakes (sometimes blueberry flavored) or “just milky.” Whatever she answers, it makes me laugh and she, in turn, laughs too.
  • I can remember a time when her tiny, little body was brand new and her arms, legs and fists were still curled up tightly and her whole body laid right at my rib cage. Now, her legs are long and stretched out alongside my legs and I can see just how much my body has nourished her body.
  • When she gets sick (which has been often) sometimes my milk is the only thing she wants and I am able to hold her close and make her feel better.
  • It’s so much easier today than it was in the beginning: There are no issues with latch or positioning. There are no middle of the night wake-ups. No pumping. I can even go out for an evening and not nurse and there’s no engorgement, no danger of losing my milk supply.
  • It’s about her and me.
  • There’s no way I’m going to look back on this time and think ‘I really wish I would have had less time nursing her, holding her, rocking her.” There’s no way I’m going to have any regrets.
  • She’s not done yet. She’s not ready to be done so I’m not ready for her to be done. We’re just not done.

That is why I nurse my toddler. And it’s completely natural and normal.

You may enjoy reading more on Toddler Nursing, Bedsharing with a Toddler, Breastfeeding While Pregnant, and Tandem Nursing.


Toddler Nursing

Why nurse a toddler?

Nursing my Toddler in Public

Nursing my Toddler in Public

Before having children, you probably never gave much thought to nursing a baby, especially beyond the first year.  Then you had a baby and perhaps your breastfeeding relationship was wonderful from the beginning, or perhaps you overcame many struggles to get where you are.  But now, you and your baby are enjoying the special bond that nursing offers, not just with nutrition but also with mothering.  You aren’t  ready to wean and your baby is still going strong, so now you find yourself contemplating nursing a toddler.

Does breast milk continue to provide health benefits?

While the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months are an established fact, breast milk continues to have a beneficial impact throughout the toddler years.   The World Health Organization recommends all children be breastfed until age two or beyond.  In fact, there are always nutritional benefits to breast milk, no matter how old your child. 

Breast milk is a living substance with unique properties and antibodies that are made specifically for the bacteria and germs your child is fighting every single day.  As your growing baby becomes more mobile she is confronted with an increasing number of germs from other children and the environment.  Your breast milk will create antibodies to help your child fight these invaders.  As long as you are breastfeeding, your milk provides immunities that will keep your toddler from getting sick as often, and not being as sick when a bug hits.  Breast milk offers health benefits that extend throughout a person’s entire life and the longer a woman breastfeeds the more benefits her body receives as well.

Toddler nursing can help with mothering

There are other reasons to continue nursing your toddler besides just health benefits.  You have probably found it to be a gentle and compassionate way of mothering.  When your toddler falls, or another child takes her toy, or she is tired, or you are traveling, or there are extra stimulants and your child just needs to wind down. . . nursing is a wonderful way to help your child relax, get away, and spend quality time with you. 

And it can be a much-needed respite in your day to have an occasional excuse to sit down and relax for a few minutes.  It can allow you, perhaps remind you even, to soak in your growing toddler and enjoy these fleeting moments that go by so quickly in the busyness of taking care of all the day-to-day things that must be done.

What are the negatives?

On the other hand, you may begin to resent how much time it takes, or wish your child would fall asleep more readily on her own.  This is a common concern of mothers, but, despite what the “sleep experts” say, your toddler still needs you (whether she is fed with a bottle or breast).  These years will pass all too quickly and she will no longer want this quality time with you every day.  With the advent of so much technology, many moms find it easier than ever before to multi-task by using their iPhone, iPad, etc. to catch up on emails, news, or just to make lists, going through what needs to be done and prioritizing.  Alternatively, you can make nursing a time when you “turn off the world around” by either reading a book or taking a little nap yourself while breastfeeding.

What about public breastfeeding?

There seems to be a social stigma attached to nursing a toddler.  Many moms who have already weaned their baby, or perhaps didn’t nurse in the first place, cannot understand why you would still nurse your toddler.  It takes grace to respond in some of these situations, and you may want to consider your answer before someone asks why you “haven’t weaned yet.”  Quite simply, it is a personal decision and if both you and your baby are happy with your relationship there really is no need to stop. . . especially due to pressure of others!

To get around this, some mothers decide to only nurse their toddler in the privacy of their home.  Others choose to try to make toddler nursing more visible by purposely, and respectfully, nursing their toddlers when they are out and about as well.  There is no right or wrong.  What is important is that you do what’s best for you and your baby.  If that is nursing in the toddler years, then don’t let others discourage you!

Getting involved with a breastfeeding support group is a great way to meet other like-minded moms who can support and encourage one another in their breastfeeding journeys.

How do I wean a toddler?

When the time does come for weaning, there are several options.  First, you could wait and allow your toddler to self-wean.  This typically occurs between 2 ½ – 7 years of age.  If you would like to wean your child before she self-weans you can do so gradually or abruptly.  Doing so over a period of a few weeks allows your baby to settle in more readily to the transition.  And, since your child is now a toddler you have the added advantage of being able to talk with her and prepare her gradually.  If you must do so abruptly, make sure to take care of yourself so you don’t end up with engorgement, plugged ducts, or mastitis.

Krista Gray, IBCLC

Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes

Whether you’re preparing to breastfeed or need support with your current situation, Krista Gray, IBCLC – Nursing Nurture Lactation – is here to help.  I am a certified lactation consultant and offer in-home lactation consultations as well as prenatal breastfeeding classes to assist you in meeting your breastfeeding goals.   I see clients throughout the Upstate of South Carolina and North East Georgia as well as via Skype and FaceTime worldwide.

Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes

Private Prenatal Breastfeeding Class – $85 for a 1 1/2 hour private class.  We will discuss the basics of breastfeeding from what you can do to be prepared, the early days, common problems and solutions, how to express and store milk, maximizing your milk supply, and what to expect as your baby grows.*

Prenatal Consultation – Addressing specific concerns – $50.  Do you have a specific concern about breastfeeding? I’d be happy to meet with you over coffee and discuss your concern so that you can be better prepared for your new baby’s arrival.

Prenatal Group Class – $35 per couple.  Minimum of 3 couples, maximum of 6.  Do you know other couples that would like to take a prenatal breastfeeding course with you?  This class includes information and encouragement for a successful breastfeeding experience, including how birth affects breastfeeding, getting breastfeeding off to a good start, positioning your baby at the breast, common problems and solutions, how to express and store milk, maximizing your milk supply, and other helpful support.

*in home rate applies to homes within 15 miles of 29655 zip code.  Beyond that area, there will be a fuel surcharge and hourly travel fee, which will be quoted at time appointment is made.

*Payment can be made with cash, check, and PayPal.

*Payment is expected at the time services are rendered.  Nursing Nurture does not file insurance on your behalf, but will provide you with an itemized Super Bill for your health insurance provider.

Learn more about Krista Gray, IBCLC or contact Krista to schedule a breastfeeding class.

Mother Bottle Feeding Her Baby

Feeling Guilty for Not Breastfeeding

Mother Bottle Feeding a BabyOccasionally I receive notes from mothers who were unable to breastfeed for one reason or another and they read the material about breastfeeding on Nursing Nurture and feel hurt, sad, or battered…as if they have failed in parenting.  They wonder why I would post so many documented benefits to breastfeeding and harms to alternatives since many moms have had a difficult journey and this research and information only makes them feel worse.

It is absolutely not my intention to make a mom feel less of a mom, as if she has failed, or beaten up by reading Nursing Nurture.  There are many aspects to parenting, and feeding babies is just one.  How a mom feeds her baby does not have to impact the love she has for this new life she is blessed with, the bond she is able to forge, or the completeness she feels as a mother.

At the same time, while feeding babies is only one aspect of parenting, it is important.  And there is a lot of misinformation as well as lack of information in our culture.  Most medical professionals, who should know and encourage what is best, are not trained in breastfeeding while much of their education has received funding from formula companies.  And while there truly are some women who simply cannot produce enough milk to feed their babies, this number is quite low (1-5% of the population).  The vast majority can breastfeed, with proper support!!

Breast milk and formula are not two nearly-the-same choices to feed a baby. In fact, the World Health Organization lists options for feeding babies in this order:

  1. Breastfeeding at breast
  2. Mother’s expressed milk in cup, bottle, etc.
  3. Donor breast milk
  4. Formula

Most parents want to do what is best for their baby, or as close to it as possible.  In fact, I have never met a parent that wants their child to have the fourth best option in anything – whether it’s food, sports, clothing, friendships, or something else.  Yet, everyday, moms are having to settle for fourth best when it comes to feeding their babies.  There is a systemic problem:  many medical professionals either don’t support breastfeeding or don’t know how to give good support; IBCLC Lactation Consultants are not always available in a mother’s community; our culture tells moms it is more acceptable to pay 20-fold (or more) in formula feeding costs rather than seeing a lactation consultant and making breastfeeding work; and, there is not nearly enough donated human milk when a mother truly can’t breastfeed.

It seems to me that most mothers have gotten the message that “breast is best.”  Most mothers initiate breastfeeding.  But, by 6 months when babies should still be exclusively breastfed, the vast majority (84% in America1 ) have introduced formula. What has happened?  There’s a lack of support and help for breastfeeding mothers.  Our society doesn’t value qualified lactation help enough to cover it on most insurance policies either.  So moms are left to do what is natural and normal – but not always easy – all alone. And when they fail, and feel guilty, it seems easiest to hate the messenger.

It is not my intention to hurt any mom’s feelings or make her feel defeated.  On the contrary, I value motherhood and babies so much I have a passion to share breastfeeding research and help women become informed and supported.  Mothers have a right to feel sad, hurt, or mad when they learn the true uniqueness of breast milk and just how important it is.  Women should be outraged by a system that has failed them.  They should not beat themselves up and feel guilty. . . it is not their fault they didn’t succeed at breastfeeding.  It was a failure of the system to share information to make an informed choice as well as support her with breastfeeding problems and challenges.  Who is even responsible – in our current system – to provide breastfeeding support?  The obstetricians claim it is the pediatrician’s responsibility and the pediatrician sees babies – not mothers…and especially not mothers’ nipples.  Those women lucky enough to have a midwife will at least have someone who is usually supportive of breastfeeding, though not necessarily more knowledgeable than any other breastfeeding mother.

It is my hope that if you were not able to breastfeed your child, you wouldn’t feel guilty or as less of a mom because you have read this site.  Rather, that you would feel  empowered so that if there is a “next time” you can nurse your child with success and share this information with others so they may succeed as well.  Not only that, it is my hope that we as a society would value breastfeeding so much that any baby who couldn’t receive his own mother’s milk would have plenty of donor milk to drink.


Breast Milk Jaundice

What is Breast Milk Jaundice?

Jaundice is a very common condition in newborn babies that gives their skin and the whites of their eyes a yellow color.  Developing 2-3 days following birth, physiologic jaundice has usually disappeared completely by the time a baby is two weeks old.  Breast milk jaundice follows a similar developmental pattern of physiologic jaundice, though it lasts well beyond the typical 10-14 days.  It is usually not diagnosed until 10-15 days (when physiologic jaundice would be disappearing), though it can be diagnosed as early as Day 4 or 5 when a mother’s milk has “come in”.  Breast milk jaundice can last from 2 – 12 weeks, but serum bilirubin levels typically peak around Day 14.  It is the buildup of bilirubin in the blood that causes the yellowing of the skin.

What Causes Breast Milk Jaundice?

For reasons that are not yet understood, the breast milk of some mothers increases the circulation of bilirubin in her baby.  Typically, the liver filters bilirubin from the bloodstream and it exits the body through stools.  However, in newborns, bilirubin can build up faster than the liver can filter it, which is known as hyperbilirubinemia.  Breast milk jaundice is an extension of physiologic jaundice.  Researchers believe there is an unidentified substance in the milk of some mothers that causes breast milk jaundice.  It may last many weeks, but it is harmless..

How do you treat Breast Milk Jaundice?

Breast milk jaundice does not require special treatment.  In fact, the best course is to continue exclusive breastfeeding as well as to be monitored by your doctor. With the uniqueness of breast milk making it the perfect food for babies as well as the known and documented negative health implications of formula that can affect a person over his lifetime, continued breastfeeding is best.  Optimal breastfeeding positioning and latch are important for any jaundice condition, especially breast milk jaundice, to ensure the baby is able to remove as much milk as possible from the breast.  The condition will slowly resolve itself and the chances of developing bilirubin encephalopathy are rare. 1


Pitfalls of Infant Formula

Though there are many articles about the benefits of breastfeeding for babies, benefits for mothersuniqueness of breast milk, the importance of colostrum, and the amazing antibodies in breast milk it is also important to talk about the pitfalls of infant formula.

Here are 20 known and documented adverse health implications from infant formula:

    1. Cognitive Development
      Formula-fed infants have less advanced cognitive development.1 Preterm babies given formula have decreased cognitive abilities at five years of age.2
    2. IQ
      Formula-fed infants have lower mental development scores throughout adolescence, by as much as 10 points.3  4
    3. SIDS
      Formula feeding increases a baby’s risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.5
    4. Allergies & Eczema
      Formula-fed infants have higher rates of allergic disease.6
    5. Asthma
      Babies who receive formula before 2 months of age have a four-fold increase than babies who are breastfed for at least four months.7
    6. Ear Infections
      Formula fed babies have 75% increase in incidence of otitis media (ear infections).8
    7. Respiratory Infections
      Formula-fed infants have higher rates of bronchitis, croup, and pneumonia.9
    8. Infectious Disease
      Formula feeding is associated with higher incidences of infectious diseases (including diarrhea, sepsis, and pneumonia) and hospitalizations for illnesses.10
    9. Necrotizing Enterocolitis
      Formula-feeding is associated with significantly higher rates of NEC.11 NEC is a serious illness that can be fatal, especially in premature infants.
    10. Gastrointestinal Illness
      Children and adults who were formula-fed have greater incidences of Chrohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Celiac Disease, and other GI issues.12  Given that breast milk is essential for the proper development of a baby’s immature intestinal mucosa, it makes sense that coating his system with anything other than breast milk before his body is ready can cause gastrointestinal distress.
    11. Harmful bacteria
      Exclusively formula-fed babies are more likely to be colonized with pathogenic bacteria such as E-coli, Candida, and Clostridium.13
    12. Gross Motor Coordination
      Formula-fed infants are more likely to have gross motor coordination delays than babies who were exclusively breastfed at least four months.14
    13. Obesity
      Children who are formula-fed have increased rates of obesity throughout their lifetimes.15  This could be because breastfeeding has a cell programming effect in reducing overweight conditions, which formula-fed infants miss out on.  Formula-fed babies have higher insulin concentrations in their plasma which can begin fat deposition in the body at an early age. And breast milk contains the hormone leptin (which is not in formula) that helps regulate body weight.
    14. Diabetes
      Breastfeeding is protective against both Type I and Type II diabetes. Diabetes rates are higher among children and adults who were formula-fed.16
    15. Cancer
      Risks for several childhood cancers are greatly increased in formula-fed children: lymphoma, leukemia, and Hodgkin’s disease.17  Researchers have identified alpha-lactalbumin, a protein in breast milk, which causes the death of abnormal cells.  This human milk protein does not exist in formula.
    16. Diarrhea and Vomiting
      One of the leading causes of infant deaths around the world, the incidence of diarrheal disease is greatly increased in formula-fed infants. Exclusive breastfeeding for at least four months is highly protective.18
    17. Multiple Sclerosis
      The strongest link to MS is a person’s diet, especially in fatty acids.  Breast milk has the perfect makeup of essential fatty acids for humans and has not been replicated in formula.  In fact, formula destabilizes the normal development of myelin. There are higher incidences of MS in children and adults who were formula-fed.19
    18. Immunizations
      Children who are formula-fed show lower antibody responses to vaccines.  In fact, some formula-fed children show no antibody levels at all.20
    19. Neurotoxins
      Formula has much higher levels of manganese than breast milk and many times also contains MSG, toxic lead and silicon levels, nitrites, GMOs, and more. Formula is not sterile and has been recalled many times over the years.21
    20. Schizophrenia
      Exclusive formula-feeding, or breastfeeding less than two weeks, has been shown to be associated with an elevated risk of developing schizophrenia.22


{Note from Nursing Nurture:  One of the most controversial parenting topics is breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. Women love to hear the benefits of breastfeeding but if something is stated in the reverse it can cause great dissension   Mothers become polarized.  Some vehemently stand up for breastfeeding benefits while others say they “hate” the messenger.  

This article is not intended to upset mothers who formula-feed.  Nor is it meant to hurt them or make them feel guilty

Rather it is to help mothers have all the information and be able to make an informed decision.  Health care providers do not provide all of the negative impacts of formula and many mothers lament the fact that they were never told of the long-term, negative health implications for both mothers and babies from formula. Ultimately, all mothers must make what they feel to be the best decision for their situation.

Some mothers, when given all the information, will choose to breastfeed when they normally would not have.  Still others will persevere to find good lactation support, in spite of a health care system set up to fail those who need this additional help.  And, most importantly, understanding the pitfalls of formula may resonate so strongly with some breastfeeding mothers that they may choose to donate their breast milk.  By doing this, a day could come when no baby whose mother truly can’t produce enough milk is faced with having to give her child formula.}

Induced Lactation

What is induced lactation?

Induced lactation is when a mother who has never had her own biological children stimulates lactation in her breasts.  The term is also used when a mother, who is not currently breastfeeding, adopts a child and goes on to nurse the infant (adoptive breastfeeding).  It is different than relactation, which occurs when a mother’s milk supply is stimulated to nurse a baby she gave birth to but has been weaned.

How do you induce lactation?

There are many techniques that women use to help induce lactation, however the most important is frequent and effective breast stimulation (and milk removal once milk begins to flow).  Many women around the world have effectively induced lactation solely by regularly nursing a baby and/or through pumping/hand expression.1 Conversely, no amount of additional tools (galactagogues, hormonal stimulation, skin-to-skin, etc.) will effectively induce a milk supply without this first step.

Strategies for inducing milk supply

  1. Breast stimulation on both sides for at least 100+ minutes every 24 hours.  A woman may start with shorter sessions, say 5 minutes or so, and build up to expressing 15-20 on each side 8-12 times a day, including at least once at night.  The more frequently the breasts are stimulated, the quicker the milk supply will build. A newborn eats approximately every 2 hours, 10-12 times per day so expressing this often would be ideal.
  2. It is not essential to express on both sides at once, though this is a great way to save time.
  3. The milk ejection reflex can be trained so thinking of your baby, nursing or pumping in the same place, listening to relaxing music, hearing a baby cry, etc. can help to stimulate it.  Conversely, stress can inhibit hormones involved with milk ejection.
  4. If you already have your baby, and if he is willing to nurse at the breast, try nursing with an at-breast tube feeding device. This allows your milk supply to be stimulated by your child rather than pumping or hand expressing to stimulate your supply.  It reduces a step because while you are “pumping” you are also feeding your baby.  As you begin to develop a milk supply you can reduce the amount supplemented in the tube feeding device.  It is important to make sure your baby has a good latch in order to effectively stimulate your milk supply.
  5. When nursing at the breast (and at other times throughout the day and night as well) make sure to spend time skin-to-skin with your baby.  There are many tremendous benefits for both mother and baby, but this time together will help you bond and help maximize a mother’s breastfeeding hormones.
  6. Taking pharmacological and/or herbal galactagogues while expressing/breastfeeding can increase breast milk supply.  Domperidone is generally considered the safest pharmacological option and fenugreek and blessed thistle are common herbal options.  Eating oatmeal several times a week or even daily may also increase milk supply.
  7. Acupuncture may also increase a mother’s milk supply through enhancing the secretion of the hormone prolactin, which is necessary for milk production.2
  8. Having a support system around you cannot be overestimated!  Having family and friends that can support and encourage you as well as getting involved in a local mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group are essential.  There will be challenges you face with adoptive breastfeeding.  Having others to encourage you and share their experiences will help you tremendously.

If you have several months before getting your baby

If you are in the process of adopting but will have to wait weeks to months, there are medications you can take that mimic pregnancy hormones in your body.  By taking an oral birth control pill with estrogen and progesterone, and skipping the week of “sugar pills” each month, your body’s hormones will mimic those in pregnancy.

In addition to the oral birth control pill, a mother would take Domperidone which is used in lactation to increase breast milk supply.  After at least 30 days on this protocol, but longer (6 months) if possible, a mother would stop the birth control pill and begin pumping or breastfeeding.  She could also take Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle – 2 herbal galactagogues known to help increase milk supply.  Please read here for further details on how to implement the Newman Goldfarb Protocols for Induced Lactation.  Though the treatment protocols for inducing lactation have not been tested in clinical trials, women from around the world have successful adoptive breastfeeding stories by using these strategies.

There are many challenges that adoptive breastfeeding mothers may face.  Arming yourself with knowledge is half of the battle!

You may also be interested in reading adoptive breastfeeding and how to encourage your adopted baby to latch.

Gastric Bypass Surgery and Breastfeeding

Some women who are severely obese may have bariatric surgery.  There are two main types – restrictive (where a band restricts the size of the stomach and thus food intake) and malabsorptive (where a portion of the small intestines is actually removed).1

Gastric bypass surgery is of most concern with breastfeeding with the malabsorptive surgery as parts of the small intestines have been removed.  Though digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, a significant amount of nutrients from food and beverages are absorbed in the small intestines.

Still, whether a woman has had restrictive or malabsorptive bypass surgery it is possible to go on to safely and exclusively breastfeed her baby.

Nutritional Impact of Breastmilk vs. Formula

Human milk is unique and amazing and, unless a mother is severely malnourished, the very best option for her baby. Breast milk is more than just nutrition but a living substance that greatly benefits both a breastfeeding mother and breastfeeding baby.

Breast milk benefits don’t just last while an infant is breastfeeding; they impact her health over the course of her life.  In fact, breast milk reduces obesity levels, not just as a baby but throughout the course of a person’s lifetime!

There is no formula, no matter how healthy and fresh the mammalian milk source, which comes close to human milk for human babies.  Every species’ milk is different and made especially for that animal.

Therefore, to consider supplementing with formula simply because a mother’s diet is not considered healthy or optimal is a slippery slope and gives a baby a nutritional source with well-known and documented health risks that can negatively impact the course of her life.  It is a serious decision and should be weighed accordingly.

What nutritional concerns should breastfeeding mothers have?

Depending on the phase of caloric restriction, the risks for possible deficiencies can be higher or lower.  The more recent the surgery, the greater the chance of insufficiency.  There are several vitamins and minerals that have been raised as possible areas of inadequacy, with Vitamin B12 being the most likely to be compromised.

Other vitamins and minerals to watch closely include iron, Thiamin, Folate, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, and calcium.  It is also important to ensure breastfeeding mothers are eating adequate protein – 65 grams/day are recommended.2

How long should I wait following surgery to have a baby?

Most health care providers recommend waiting 12-18 months following surgery before becoming pregnant.  This helps a woman’s body to recover from surgery and get past the most restrictive phases of eating.

If a woman does become pregnant within 12-18 months following surgery, she will need to be even more diligent to follow nutritional recommendations from her healthcare provider.  Prenatal vitamins containing 1 mg Folate, 500-1000 micrograms of crystalline B12, calcium and citrate in amounts of 1200-1500 mg/day,  Vitamin D,  and 40-65 mg ferrous iron is important.

Some doctors will recommend taking prenatal vitamins in addition to a woman’s daily multivitamin.3

What should I eat while breastfeeding?

All breastfeeding mothers have increased caloric needs while breastfeeding.  In fact, many mothers will lose weight during the first six months following having a baby just from breastfeeding and healthy eating without any special dieting.

It is important for mothers who have had bariatric surgery to eat adequate calories and nutritious foods each day.  This will include well balanced snacks, meals, and appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements.

Taking in at least 65 grams of protein each day is important.  Make sure to work closely with your healthcare provider, and follow the nutrition guidelines closely, to ensure you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals following surgery.  If one is available in your area, try to work with a doctor who has experience with bariatric nutritional needs and lactation.

How can I ensure breastfeeding success?

Excellent lactation support following birth will help you to get breastfeeding off to the best start possible.  While having maternal nutritional support is important, breastfeeding support for mother and baby is too.  A natural birth with plenty of skin-to-skin time is a wonderful start for mother and baby.

Feeding your baby often and on demand, following her feeding cues is essential.  If a mother has large breasts and a small baby, make sure to get extra lactation support in the beginning.

Follow your infant’s weight gain in the beginning to ensure he is taking in adequate nutrition; watching his wet and dirty diapers are important. Finally, relax and enjoy breastfeeding.  Stress can impede milk production and worrying will not solve any problems. This is an exciting time in your life and you are giving your baby the best nutritional start possible.