Breastfeeding provides babies with a healthy start in life as breast milk naturally has many health benefits. It can provide babies with some immunity from illnesses as the mother is passing on antibodies to her baby in her breast milk. Plus it helps with the bonding between mum and baby.
However, it’s not always possible for mums to breastfeed or even to provide their baby with breast milk. As someone who has had first hand experience of not being able to breastfeed, I can relate to the challenges many mums face with it. For this reason I want other mums to know about the best alternatives to breastfeeding.
Reasons Why Some Women Can’t Breastfeed
Mums experience different reasons why they can not breastfeed. If a baby is born prematurely, this can impact breastfeeding. Some women are even advised against breastfeeding if they are taking certain medications that could harm their baby. Also, some babies don’t want to breastfeed or struggle with latching – I had this problem with my eldest daughter who had a tongue tie at birth, here is my story and what I did.
Reasons Why Some Mums Choose Not To Breastfeed
There are lots of reasons why a mum may choose not to breastfeed and we should always respect a mums decision not to. I won’t mention all the reasons why mums may choose not to breastfeed but here are some:
1. Breastfeeding can be painful, for instance, if the mother’s nipples are dry and cracked.
2. Mums may have concerns about the risk to their baby from breastfeeding due to their medications and/or diet.
3. They may generally feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding, especially in public places.
Regardless of why a mum chooses not to breastfeed, every mum has the right to decide on their preferred method of feeding without judgement. So now we have covered why some mums don’t breastfeed, lets look at some alternatives to breastfeeding.
Here are 5 alternative Feeding Methods to breastfeeding
1. Exclusively pumping milk / expressing milk
This is one option if you don’t want to or can’t breastfeed but still want your baby to have breast milk. Expressing or pumping milk means that by using a breast pump, mothers can extract the milk from their breasts and feed it in bottles to their baby.
One benefit of this is that babies are still getting their mum’s healthy breast milk. One downside to pumping milk is that it can take quite some time and effort to get a full milk supply.
It is recommended that mums pump 8-12 times a day to increase their milk supply as this is how often newborn babies tend to drink milk. Pumping frequently (especially in the early days) helps to establish a good milk supply.
With that being said, there are certain things mums can do to increase their milk such as pumping at night between the hours of 1-4am. Also, eating certain foods are said to increase milk supply such as wholegrains, oats, barley, fennel and some seeds.
I personally have found oats and wholegrain foods to be effective at increasing my milk – also these lactation brownies have 4 key ingredients for boosting milk supply and they are simply delicious.
Click here to check out my post on how to increase milk supply if pumping.
2. Combination feeding
It can be hard for some mums to reach a full milk supply by exclusively pumping. If you want to give your baby some breast milk but don’t have enough in supply, then you can try combination feeding by supplementing with formula.
3. Finger feeding
Here is an alternative to bottle and breast feeding. This involves using a syringe with a small tube connected to the opening. The tube is then stuck with tape to the mums finger and it goes into the baby’s mouth with the finger. Then your baby sucks the milk out of the tube while sucking your finger. Finger feeding can be used for both expressed breast milk or formula.
There are a number of reasons why mums may choose to finger feed their baby but often it’s used as an alternative when a baby can’t latch onto the breast. Using the finger feeding method is a good option for mums who at some point plan on breastfeeding as the shape of the finger is more similar to the nipple than a bottle teat.
4. Formula milk
This is a common breast milk replacement. There are many different types of formula milk that are used as alternatives to breast milk for babies. Some parents use comfort milk (that is to help with colic), anti-reflux, organic and lactose free – you can always ask your baby’s doctor or health visitor which is the best formula milk for your baby.
5. Supplemental Nursing System (SNS)
An Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) is more of a way of supplementing breastfeeding rather than an alternative to breastfeeding.
With the SNS method of feeding, a tube is connected to your breast which also connects to a baby’s milk bottle so when your baby is breast fed, they are also receiving milk from the bottle. This allows your baby to drink from a bottle whilst at the same time breastfeeding, hence why it’s called the “supplemental nursing system”.
It is especially good for mums who have small milk supply. It can help to increase milk supply as your baby is still breastfeeding. The benefit of using an SNS is that it ensures that your baby is getting enough milk while also helping to increase your milk supply as you are still breastfeeding. It’s fairly easy to make your own breastfeeding SNS – find out how to here.
Breastfeeding Tips For New Mums
Nipple shields may help with latching
If you are experiencing problems with being able to get your baby to latch, then you can opt for using a nipple shield. This is a silicone shield used over the nursing mum’s nipple which the baby sucks on.
Whilst these can improve the breastfeeding experience for some mothers and babies, they can be a hindrance and put a barrier to others as they can prevent a baby from being able to get enough milk. It is recommended that you consult a lactation specialist before considering using a nipple shield as they are often used as a last resort.
Dealing with breastfeeding Pain
If you are experiencing nipple pain when feeding (due to sore and cracked nipples) like many mums do then you can consider temporarily switching to using a breast pump or the finger feeding method to give your nipples a break. Also, consider getting some nipple cream to help soothe and moisturise the area.
Those Were My 5 Alternative Feeding Methods To Breastfeeding
I hope this has been informative and you have found the best alternative method of feeding for you. Let me know if there are any other alternatives to breastfeeding which I haven’t covered. Thanks for reading and please share the post with other’s who may benefit from this information.