Monday, 18 July 2011

Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding

Breastfeeding Charlotte in Hampstead Heath in April
I am so grateful that I have been able to breastfeed Charlotte without problems.  I have a very healthy supply and Charlotte has a healthy appetite.  All is well in the world . . . and all would continue to be well with the world if I weren't leaving for ten days at the beginning of next month.

Since we arrived in London three-and-a-half months ago, I have been pumping/expressing milk in every free moment I have.  While it is perhaps the most unglamorous activities I have ever engaged in, I wanted to make sure Charlotte had enough milk for her two days of daycare a week and enough to last her the ten days I will be traveling.  But try as I might, I failed; there isn't enough milk in the freezer.  I am absolutely heartbroken over it.

One of the main reasons we ran out of milk is that Charlotte goes through more milk at daycare than I am able to express while she's gone.  I think this is due in part to the daycare facility not treating the milk like the liquid gold it is (ie:  throwing away half drunk bottles instead of putting them back in the fridge for later) and Charlotte seizing the opportunity to drink all of a ten ounce bottle if it is given to her.  I spoke with the daycare (who is generally really great) about being more careful about wasting the milk and there seemed to be a big improvement after that.  But not a big enough improvement, as today Charlotte has officially started to drink formula at daycare.

My goal is for her to have at least a couple bottles worth of mama's milk for each day I'm away.  As for me, I am going to travel with my breast pump and will have to find time to express milk between rehearsals, traveling and performances.  Luckily, I am very familiar with the members of the group I'm performing with and I know that they will be supportive in my efforts.  I am going to look into getting dry ice to travel back to London with my expressed milk, but if that is too complicated, I will find a milk bank to donate to.  Mostly, I want to make sure that my milk doesn't dry up while I'm away and I don't want to waste any of the milk if I don't have to!  (There are milk banks that provide breast milk to families with moms who can't produce milk and/or to families where the mom is ill or has passed away.)

From what I've read, breastfeeding until a baby is six-months is considered a huge accomplishment and is recommended by the World Health Organization.  While we have already reached this milestone (I accidentally just typed "milkstone".  Haha!)  I would like to be able to continue breastfeeding Charlotte until she is at least one.  It is just so much better for her brain and general development than formula and I feel fortunate that it has worked so well for us thus far.

Hopefully this first round of traveling will go smoothly as I am traveling again in October, December, March and June (so far).  I am working on transitioning my work to London so I don't have to return to the states to work, but that will take some time.  Luckily, I already have some positive responses from sending my CV out to some London opera companies!  In the meantime, Jason is looking forward to having one-on-one time with our sweet Charlotte and my mom is looking forward to flying out to help as well.

As for me, I know that being away from Charlotte will be difficult, but I am happy and proud to be continuing my career.  Singing isn't just a job for me, it is huge part of who I am.   It gives me life and makes me a better person.  And despite throwing a wrench/spanner into my breastfeeding efforts, I truly believe that it is good for Charlotte to see her mom doing what she loves to do!


  1. I spent seven days away from my (at the time) 8mo. Instead of formula (we never used it, in fact) we used goat milk.

    Goat milk was easy on her tummy, she enjoyed the taste of it, and we started by mixing with a bit of my milk in the bottle.

    It is very honorable to think to donate to a milk bank. Let us know if the dry ice idea works out! That would be a great story to submit to a natural parenting magazine!

    Good luck, B, and I hope you have fun on your adventure!

  2. I traveled a bit in M's first year, although not for 10 days. In the spirit of Internet advice that you should feel free to ignore at will - I'd focus most on maintaining supply - if you manage to save some, that's great - but prioritize pumping to keep supply up, even if you have to pump-and-dump. You may not be able to pump as much as she would nurse, but if you can keep supply up, then when you're back with her she should be able to help you ramp your supply back up.

    (Full disclosure: M didn't wean completely until about 27 months and I had a few trips in there... I didn't pump much at all after about 11 months, but I took a handpump with me on trips to express, just in case I got uncomfortable. YMMV, etc. etc. - just another data point to consider as she gets older.)

  3. Jessie:Thanks for the goat milk recommendation. I'll definitely look into that! I just hate that formula has so many ingredients. It seems so far away from being a whole food.

  4. Lyn: Thanks. Maintaining my supply is going to be my main goal while I'm gone. I'd like to continue breastfeeding her at least through a year. We both enjoy it so much though, I can imagine it lasting into her second year as well.


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