Breastfeeding is natural, but for many reasons some women opt out and choose formula.
And that is completely okay, because breastfeeding isn't for everyone.
That being said, when you give birth your body is rapidly producing hormones that promote lactation and increase milk supply to feed your baby. All this milk has to go somewhere if you aren't breastfeeding and putting the breaks on lactating can be an uncomfortable challenge.
You hear a lot about ways to improve lactation and postpartum nutrition that increases milk supply, but what about making it all stop?
When an excess of breast milk builds up, it causes breasts to become engorged.
This can be incredibly painful and make your postpartum recovery more uncomfortable. When you're nursing regularly, it generally keeps engorgement under control. If you aren't nursing, you can still relieve the pain and discomfort while you're formula feeding.
Wearing a supportive bra and using cold compresses will help relieve engorgement pain, and can encourage your breasts to express. A pumping/hand expressing routine can help minimize unwanted lactation. Since your breasts actually produce milk faster if they are empty, only expressing to relieve discomfort will help minimize your milk supply more effectively.
A nursing baby’s saliva sends signals to the mother's body through breast contact to encourage the production of prolactin to keep the milk flowing. Once you eliminate physical nursing, your body’s prolactin levels will slowly decline and cause your milk production to slow.
Milk that you express still has nutritional value and can still be fed to your baby unless advised otherwise by your care provider. If you choose to collect your supply, many areas collect milk donations for local mothers in need and welcome your contribution. If you are looking to donate your breastmilk, it stores well in a bag laid flat in the freezer and labeled with the date and time.
Formula feeding is bonding too.
Even if you are choosing to formula feed or have the medical need, your feedings can still be positive bonding experiences when you create a cuddly space for your baby to relax with skin to skin contact. Affectionate touch and sound promotes bonding with your baby, regardless of “what’s on the menu” for baby.
Your body is amazing and natural remedies can provide a new mother with a ton of relief while they are trying to minimize their milk production in lieu of formula feedings.
Listen to your body.
If you are experiencing severe discomfort or symptoms that concern you, check with your doctor. There may be topical treatments for lactation reduction and pain relief to help make the process more comfortable for you.
Still have questions about lactation? Our consultants are always glad to help.