BREASTMILK VS FORMULA

Daily in our group we have members, new and old, say their doctors are pushing them to switch to formula completely or supplement for gut rest.

It can be so frustrating and disheartening to mothers especially who are going out of their way to identify their child’s triggers when doctors, who on the most part have very little training in either nutrition or breastmilk, are being so aggressive pushing a nutritionally and an immunologically poorer powdered alternative as a fix all solution. Often claiming babies “can’t” react to hypoallergenic hydrolysed or amino acid, which isn’t true. All hydrolysed and amino acid based formulas contain top allergens, corn or their derivatives. Some do better with some than others. But they are certainly not without any risk, much like any new food trial for a hyper-sensitised TED infant.

Frequently formula is recommended without consulting with a Lactation specialist (e.g. IBCLC) or having any form of investigations into milk transfer or potential allergens that could be triggering reactions or inhibiting growth. Because sometimes poor milk transfer can cause symptoms of food sensitivities and impair weight gain; and reactions can cause gastric inflammation which is known to inhibit nutrient absorption and cause impaired weight gain for many.

Formula isn’t a “Fix-all” solution, its a medication with specific and limited uses. See a doctor, get a second opinion, see a lactation consultant (IBCLC) or visit a breastfeeding clinic.

There are people out there who can help.

Go with your gut Mamas! There is hope!!

Breastmilk Vs Formula

The only benefits to hypoallergenic formulas (hydrolysed/amino acid based) are that for some, not all, it can be a viable nutritionally broad (not complete) food source. Hypo- means low, so it is a low allergy risk formula, not a no allergy risk formula, that doesn’t exist. Hypoallergenic formulas are treated as medications and do not have to apply to the same nutritional guidelines as regular breastmilk alternatives aka normal formulas.

For some mums, especially TED mamas, life can be so full of challenges and the mental strain of having a child with allergies can be exhausting. Because of this having a safe formula can be a dream, for many, because it gives the illusion of freedom from the daily stresses and strains of obsessing over reactions.

But having a safe formula doesn’t remove the underlying issues causing reactions. It doesn’t help you identify triggers in a safer lower risk way. It doesn’t help support our babies immune function, improve their microbiome or act as an anti-inflammatory.

It also comes with its own drawbacks:

  • The cost, which can be astronomical if you can’t get it covered by the state or insurance.
  • The bottles. The sterilising. A whole new load of paraphernalia and tasks you need to deal with.
  • Some also have real challenges to get it prescribed for long enough, or at a large enough quantity to support their child for the duration.

Many doctors and health care professionals ignorantly assume hydrolysed or elemental formula will be safe, they try to give powder solutions to breastfeeding problems. Because they don’t always understand allergies, or breastmilk, or their interaction together. They frequently don’t look for the root cause, ignoring that there might be an underlying cause. Formula can be a quick fix for the bigger situation, quick fixes often give temporary relief before failing. Using formula is like putting a misfitting plaster/bandage on a bigger problem.

Formula is a medicine for extreme situations when breastmilk isn’t available and is no where near equal to breastmilk in anyway.

Formula increases the risks of more allergies, and has none of the protective factors breastmilk does.

Formula also has an extreme excess of synthetic vitamins to compensate for how non-bioavailable they are. Including an excess of iron which can cause gastric irritation and intestinal bleeding causing more inflammation and making it more difficult to absorb nutrients. The excess Iron also feeds non-helpful microbes and increase the risk of gastro infections, as well as formula dramatically increasing the risk of other infections like ear infections etc. They all also contain synthetic forms of folic acid and B12 which can be especially unhelpful for those with MTHFR gene mutations.

All that is before factoring in if the formula is safe from known or potential allergens, and trying potentially multiple ones to get the best fit. (For example it’s pretty much impossible to find a formula that is truly free from dairy/soya and corn or their derivatives.)

It delays the inevitable as you’ll still need to identify any and all triggers when introducing solids which can be at a much higher risk of more severe reaction as if infants react to the extremely broken down forms of foods in breastmilk the reactions directly can cause potentially exponentially worse reactions including extreme vomiting or diarrhoea to the point of potential dehydration and hospitalisation or anaphylaxis. (Both are exponentially less common through breastmilk.)

Breastmilk is best for little ones for as long as possible, the world health organisation recommends it for “2 years and beyond” and you don’t have to switch at any point to the artificial man made lesser option. You can breastfeed until your little one’s diet is diverse enough to sustain nutritionally.

Breastmilk…
Is nutritionally perfect, though on a prologued TED can drain the nutrients out of mum so it’s important to try and ensure mum gets enough through diet or supplementation to sustain her, a TED/allergy mum taking formula is much lower risk and more beneficial than giving formula directly to an infant.

Breastmilk has anti-inflammatory properties which can aid recovery from reactions. Breastmilk also contains “human milk oggliosacarides” probiotics that feed the good bacteria in the gut and lay the foundation for optimal gut health, and probiotics from the mums microbiome to lay the foundation for an infants gut flora.

Breastmilk reduces the risk of MORE (or worse) allergies, eczema and asthma.

Breastmilk protects from secondary infections like ear infections, and helps babies recover from viruses with the assistance of their mothers immune system.

Breastmilk is adaptable and constantly changing to fit your babies needs.
Breastmilk is always the biologically optimal best thing for pretty much every child with any problems.

Breastfeeding also enables mum to take time away from the stresses of life, especially those hurdles and challenges allergies bring, to remember to still enjoy their little ones love, chemically with oxytocin, as well as physically with cuddles.

Formula seem practical, and make other people “feel” like they’re helping… it can even be a really useful tool or “best” for mother and families in some extreme or health situations
Breastfeeding might not always be possible, but breastmilk will always be in a babies best interest.

Mamas! 

No one here will judge you for supplementing or formula feeding, if *you* believe it’s best for you and your situation go for it. But don’t let someone else manipulate you into thinking your efforts and your breastmilk isn’t good enough.

You are a TED mama

You are amazing

Your breastmilk is *good enough*

The lengths you are going to for your child are extraordinary!!

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

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