by Chelsea Long, Whole Mamas Content Coordinator

If you’re anything like, me, when it comes to parenting, it can be easy to feel that there’s only one “right” way to do something, and you can have the sneaking suspicion that you’re doing it “wrong.” The truth is, there is no right or wrong when it comes to making decisions for your family.

Looking back on pre-baby life, I had so many ideals in my head. When reality hit, I realized that most of this ride is beyond my control and that I often need to adapt my ideals to match the reality of the situation. I have supplemented all three of my children with formula at various points in their infancy, which can surprise some people because they assume certain things about me.

I asked some of my friends and mamas in our Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program to share their experience with formula and which formula they used with their babes. They all came to their decision for different reasons and chose different formulas, but in every situation their babies are fed, healthy, loved, and thriving. Read on to hear stories from a variety of formula-feeding Whole Mamas.

Amanda P. (Holle Organic Goat’s Milk Formula)

“I started supplementing with formula after a bout of two viruses left my body struggling to produce milk. I work full-time and was pumping 3-4x a day during my workday, and still only bringing home 3-4 oz. Meanwhile, my baby was drinking 12 oz of my freezer stash each day. I still nurse morning and evening.

Honestly, it’s been a huge stress relief for me to not have to obsess over my pumping output at work. My two older kiddos are both sensitive to dairy so I went straight to goat’s milk this time around. For the first week, we did half breastmilk, half formula to ease into it and use up my freezer stash.”

Read Tannyr’s story about choosing the right formula for her family.

Olivia H. (Similac Sensitive® and Enfamil Gentlease®)

“I remember asking for formula in the hospital after delivering [my second son]. I wasn’t planning on breastfeeding and the nurses were highly skeptical. Despite knowing what was best for our family, I got the third degree–to the point where the nurses called and asked the doctor if it was okay to give formula to my child.

More fascinated than anything, I looked at [my husband] wide-eyed and shook my head. Could we please just have the food for my baby? There are a lot of things I don’t know. There are a lot of things I’m learning. One thing I do know was that I wasn’t going to breastfeed my children. I didn’t feel guilty or sad. My kids were both born healthy and smiling after relatively easy deliveries. I felt confident and strong. People are always going to question you. That’s just life. When it comes down to it, only you know what’s best for you.”

Lisa D. (Kirkland Signature™ Non-GMO Infant Formula)

“My daughter was born at 37 weeks and had jaundice, so the doctor recommended that we supplement from the start to help get the bilirubin out of her system. My milk took some extra time to come in because I was induced early. We were probably doing 60/40 breastmilk/formula to begin for the first few weeks. We then transitioned to 90/10. I breastfed her unless my husband got up with her in the night or I had an appointment or needed a break.

When I went back to work part-time at 4 months, I decided to just pump what I could there, and we would continue to supplement whatever extra was needed. She’s 10 months now, I’m back at work full-time, and I only pump once a day. She gets 2-3 oz of pumped milk mixed with formula during the day (oh, and of course solids, she LOVES to eat). She nurses in the morning and evening (and sometimes all night long….still!).

I didn’t stress much about which brand to get because our options were limited by our budget, and it’s always been a supplement since I breastfed as well. Luckily, she has not had any signs of stomach sensitivity and has always switched effortlessly between bottle and boob!”

Kelsey P., Paleo Blogger (Holle Organic Cow’s Milk Formula)

“After 6 weeks, 2 bouts of mastitis due to overproduction, thrush, vasospasms and more pain than I had felt in my life, we made the decision to switch the formula. The only way to slow my production and constant clogged ducts was to start drying up my supply. Once I made the decision I felt immense relief.

I knew that choosing a formula I had researched and trusted would be the absolute best move for our family’s happiness! It was hard to let go of my expectation of breastfeeding with ease, but I just knew that if I could actually enjoy my time feeding my baby, we would all be better off. Boy, was I right!”

Britta S. (Happy Baby® Organic Formula)

“We started supplementing at 9 months. My supply had always been just enough, and I often thought about supplementing with formula. She hit a growth spurt, and I couldn’t keep up. I experienced a period of sadness when I admitted I wasn’t producing enough, but I felt empowered knowing that my baby would get what she needed to continue growing. My little one loved the formula I chose, and I loved that I could purchase it easily at Whole Foods by my house.”

Chelsea H., Whole30 Certified Coach (Comforts® For Baby® Soy-Based Infant Formula with Iron)

“I breastfed both of my babies for 6 weeks before giving them formula. I had pretty severe PPD/PPA/OCD–almost to the point of needing hospitalization for treatment. Part of my obsession was with my breastmilk supply … I pumped until I nearly bled. It took a huge toll on me and my family. After many tears and visits to our pediatrician, I gave my babies formula. I felt relieved and sad at the same time. Looking back, though, I know it was the right choice for all of us.  My daughter is sensitive to dairy so we gave her soy (something that I wouldn’t do again, but I was doing my best at the time).”

Everything you wanted to know about PPD but were afraid to ask.

Danielle M. (Enfamil Enfacare®)

“In my first pregnancy I struggled with hypertension and ultimately pre-eclampsia. I ended up having an emergency C-section at 36 weeks. Between my early delivery and difficult recovery, I struggled to build my milk supply. My daughter wasn’t gaining weight, so the doctor recommended we start supplementing a few days after she was born.

Breastfeeding and pumping often left me feeling drained and shaky all the time, so we decided to switch to formula exclusively around 10 weeks so I could focus on recovering and enjoying my baby. Within a few days my blood pressure was back to normal, and everyone was happier.”

As you can see, there is a wide range of options for mamas who choose to formula feed. We’d love to hear your story, so please join the conversation on Instagram, Facebook, or send us an email.

Formerly an English as a Second Language instructor at the university level, Chelsea shifted her interest to holistic health after giving birth to her first child. Her degrees in Communications and Education serve her well as she works to support women in their journey through motherhood. Chelsea is a registered yoga teacher (RYT 200) and is passionate about helping women thrive.