So we all know it, we’ve all heard it: Breast Is Best. I completely agree! Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby! But, what happens when there’s no milk in those breasts? Here’s my story…
I’m a huge supporter of breastfeeding and just knew that I would breastfeed my son for at least 2 years. I thought breastfeeding would be easy because it was natural! I just thought he would latch immediately, milk would flow, and we would gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes solidifying our perfect parent-child bond. But that’s not what happened… not even close.
After my perfect natural birth, Jack was sent to the NICU for inhaling amniotic fluid and was having trouble breathing. The doctors were concerned about him aspirating so they asked us not to try to latch him for 36 hours until he could work the fluid out of his lungs. While in the NICU he was given a pacifier. When I walked into the room and saw the paci in his mouth, my heart just dropped. I knew this was going to cause latching issues and it really did. When I finally got green lighted to work on breastfeeding, he had no idea what to do with my nipple. We had to use a nipple shield covered in sugar water to get him to even try to latch. I worked for HOURS with 3 lactation consultants who were so wonderful and patient. We finally got him latched on the nipple shield but his latch was terrible. Soon I had cracked nipples and my breasts were seriously bruised. Every time it was time to nurse my entire body would tense up and I would dread it.
We went home the afternoon of day 3 but looking back, things weren’t right. Jack cried around the clock and even though we were breastfeeding 17-18 hours a day, he was never satisfied and never calm. His fists were always balled up so tightly while he nursed and his face and eyes stayed squinched up. There was no loving eye gaze and there was no happy content baby because his belly stayed empty.
By early morning on day 6 we realized he hadn’t had a wet or dirty diaper in over 12 hours. We went in to the ER and they sent us back up to the NICU. As I walked through the doors, my same NICU team was waiting for me with big hugs and sympathetic words. Jack was severely dehydrated and his weight had dropped by almost 15%. The lactation nurses came back and sat with me. They watched me nurse, watched me pump, did a physical exam, and then very quietly and kindly explained that breastfeeding wasn’t an option for us. Jack had a tongue tie and lip tie and I had Insufficient Glandular Tissue, AKA Hypoplasia.
The tongue tie/lip tie is fixable and we had it corrected but between the ties, the nipple confusion, the nipple shield, and then the Insufficient Glandular Tissue, my milk supply never came in. I was never able to produce more then half an ounce at a time. My body doesn't have enough milk ducts to produce milk.
Sitting in the NICU with a lactation counselor by my side, I fed my son formula... and the craziest thing happened, his body relaxed, his hands released from the tight angry fists, and he opened his eyes and lovingly gazed into mine. It was so beautiful and so sad because I realized he had just been hungry. My sweet baby had just needed a full belly so we could finally start to bond and fall crazy in love!
Fast forward, Jack was diagnosed with a dairy allergy, and then a soy allergy, and then gluten, and beef, and corn, and eggs… is your head spinning right now? Because mine sure was. We searched through every formula on the market and he couldn’t have any of them. We looked into donor milk and while we had FIVE different women volunteer to pump for him, we couldn’t find anyone that followed his strict dietary needs. After lots of research I finally found a homemade goat milk formula: https://www.mtcapra.com/homemade-goat-milk-formula-2-0/
Everyone thought I was nuts but I found a farmer in another state that was able to sell me raw, non-homogenized goat milk. We then cut the goat milk in half with water because goat milk has twice the protein as breastmilk and then added back the fats and sugars with coconut oil, blackstrap molasses, and maple syrup. We also gave him probiotics, a multi-vitamin, and vitamin D drops. I brought the recipe to my pediatrician and she said it had everything he needed nutritionally so we went for it! The more we made it, the easier it got and watching Jack finally thrive was so worth it! This truly worked for our family.
If breastfeeding is a feasible option for you, then I want to support you through the ups and downs to help you make that work. But if it’s not, if breast truly isn’t what’s best for you and your baby, then I really recommend looking into goat milk formulas. And if the homemade version just isn’t for you, check out this fantastic pre-made version: www.sammysmilk.com
Today Jack met one of the goats who fed him! He loves her and so do I because she was able to do what I couldn't: feed my baby.