To begin, I applaud all the mamas who have chosen to breast feed for the healthiest length of time for their family.
In our age of microwave-generation-turned-adults, that's often longer than most mothers (and fathers, I might add) are willing to fight for. I'll let you determine with your own family what it looks like to fight for wholistic living in all things from nursing to formula, to resting to exercise, and every other paradigms that may exist. This is just my family's story.
For me, I always reasoned, "wow, it can't be that hard, why would one ever settle for formula?" And, now, here I am disclosing my own interactions with a REAL decision that REAL people face (no fairy take idealism grounded in unhealthy expectation).
My now 9mo has been nursing since birth. We had a home birth, so from the moment she was born she has been used to the warmth of nourishing herself in moms embrace, near my heart. We love nursing. My husband fights hard to make it successful for us. It is a team effort.
Things got a little more difficult, though, as she grew older and became more fascinated with the world around her. She seemed to be weaning herself. No matter what I did, she would always get distracted and loose interest.
I initially figured it was something she would grow through, but then she started skipping nursings all together. So I figured it was something I needed to grow through, so I started putting us in distraction free environments, but then she would just play with my hair. It didn't seem to matter what I did or didn't do. And the worst part was that since she wasn't nursing, my supply was going down and pumping didn't keep it up enough.
I tried fennel oil and nursing tea, and those helped me to keep my supply up enough to pump a bit. But it still wasn't sufficient.
So, after a week of her skipping nursing all together and only taking bottles of pumped milk, I went through my supply of frozen milk and had to figure out another plan.
Resistant as I was, I researched a lot and decided to start making homemade formula to give her on the days she wouldn't nurse. Of course, we would always start off with nursing, but if that didn't happen, I'd give her some milk in a tippy cup or bottle in between meals. It seemed to work. But we keep trying to nurse.
After a while, my patience would pay off and she would nurse and play on and off during nursing sessions. It became a new season for us, as I was no longer nursing an infant but a very mobile and strong willed baby. It was actually fun!
So now, at 9 months, she still seems to be weaning herself, but we've landed a compromise where we play and nurse rather than just play. And maybe in a few months we will be ready to stop all together. But until then, I still give her formula on occasion and she still nurses. And it feels right for us. Though things change so much, and tomorrow might be different.
Nursing is valuable for a number of reasons. There all sorts of research out there. There's all sorts if testimonies. I don't need to repeat them. But it is a good reminder that nursing our children is beautiful. If for no other reason than that it is how we were created, which means that each time I nurse, both Harper and I are choosing (yes, sometimes fighting) to be who we were created to be. Imperfect, distracted, messy, and all.
That each time I choose to make her formula, I'm also bringing that decision to the Great Physician, who wants to partner with me and with Harper in the middle of whatever season we find ourselves. I don't believe that God frowns on us (like many moms do and like I used to - #confession) for not exclusively nursing. I think He actually takes joy in the journey with us. Same as I also take joy in the journey of Harper becoming so mesmerized by the world that she is too busy to nurse 'perfectly.'
Way to go baby girl, for doing what makes you come alive... Even if I'm still convinced that nursing is healthier for your body than is formula.
But I guess being wholistic requires rolling a bit with the punches and doing what is healthy for ones body, mind and spirit (and community).
Here are the ingredients in my homemade formula. It's based off of a few formulas and nutritional needs that baby's have. Most of my inspiration was from the Winston A. Price Foundation, where you can find a more measured out recipe. I normally don't actually measure everything since I just make formula for one bottle at a time:
Black Strap Molasses
Sunflower Seed Oil
Cod Liver Oil
Yeast / Desiccated Liver / liquid B-Vitamins
Raw milk / keifer
Flack seed oil
(No you don't actually need corn syrup like is in many formulas, nor do you need hydrogenated oils... Those ingredients are nothing like anything found in breast milk)