Feeding your babe is everything! And its not a one size fits all process.
This month we got the delightful pleasure of interviewing Mallory Whitmore, aka The Formula Mom, and we couldn’t be more excited to share her expertise with you. While our products assist in the process of efficiently and beautifully extracting milk from the breast, we realize this is just a part of the feeding process and that most moms utilize many other means to nourish their little ones. Let’s dive into formula feeding, tackle some of the most common facts and myths, and gain a better understanding of options that moms have to keep their babes fed.
1. First, an intro! Mallory, tell us a bit about yourself, your background, your role at Bobbie and personal experience that led you to become an advocate for formula feeding moms?
I’m a mom of 2, educator, advocate and Certified Infant Feeding Tech. I started The Formula Mom after desperately needing support and advice about formula feeding when my babies were born and struggling to find quality, research-backed information. My first child was born late preterm via scheduled c-section due to a placenta complication and feeding was a struggle from the start. She needed oxygen support in the transitional nursery so we didn’t get our “golden hour” or skin-to-skin, and I didn’t see her for most of her first day. She had a weak suck and was very sleepy– just couldn’t be bothered to nurse. She lost 12% body weight within 48 hours and I switched to exclusive pumping which was TERRIBLE for me. Her weight gain was never on track and those early weeks became a juggle of round-the-clock feeds, every-other-day weight checks and my own spiraling mental health. We finally switched to baby formula around 6 weeks and it was so much better for everyone! She was happier, gaining better, and it allowed me to do the things I needed to do to protect my mental health (sleep more, delegate some responsibility, take medication).
When my son was born almost 3 years later we decided to formula feed from the start and it was the absolute best decision for us. I thought there would certainly be more resources available in 2019 compared to 2016 but still couldn’t find any, and I knew I couldn’t be the only one. I decided to create the resources and support that I needed when I was a first time mom, knowing others would appreciate it too and they have! After providing digital resources on my own for several years, I joined forces with Bobbie in late 2022– The Formula Mom became a Bobbie-backed asset and I joined the Bobbie team to lead Education.
Formula feeding has faced a wide spectrum of acceptance, from mainstream support to shaming moms who supplement or exclusively formula feed. Do you think we are now in the era of “fed is best”, where we can all respect each other’s feeding choices?
I think that we’re unfortunately more polarized than ever when it comes to infant feeding, and that’s because there’s typically no room for nuance in the conversation, especially on social media. So much of the conversation in the parenting space defaults to one “best” way arguing against another “best” way without realizing that “best” is personal– what’s best for one family, with their unique circumstances and experiences and levels of support, will never be best for all families.
I hope that we are getting closer to my personal ideal, which is “support is best” and “informed is best,” with a note here that “informed” should be well-rounded, research-based, and not coercive in nature. Ultimately what I believe is best is each family doing what’s right for them, and the rest of us making a commitment to not judge or assume why any parent makes the choices they do.
2. The term combo feeding has become big, what does combination feeding mean exactly?
Combo feeding has been around forever as a practice but is just starting to be named and discussed more recently! Essentially, combo feeding means combining both breastmilk and formula to provide your baby’s nutrition. This can look any number of ways, including occasionally supplementing with a formula bottle and mostly nursing, to pumping at home and giving formula at daycare, to nursing for comfort only and using formula for almost all calories. There’s no right or wrong way to combo feed!
Many parents choose to combo feed as it reduces the pressure associated with being the sole source of their baby’s nutrition for a year, without fully forfeiting the benefits and bonding that come from breastmilk and breastfeeding. For many families, combo feeding is the best of both worlds!
3. Finish this sentence; Formula feeding is empowering because……
Formula feeding is empowering because it gives parents agency in a way that breastfeeding, by nature, cannot. It allows women and lactating people to choose whether, how, and when they want to use their body for feeding (or not)-- how we feed our babies is a bodily autonomy issue! It provides freedom and flexibility to be away from your baby for longer periods of time without interruption, whether for work or play. Using infant formula can shift the responsibility of feeding a baby from a “mom” thing to a “parent” thing in a way that creates more equity between partners. And while not all parents want or need this agency, autonomy, flexibility, or equity after giving birth, many parents do and formula is a simple solution to get there.
What are your most recommended tools for combo feeding parents?
The one downside of combo feeding is that you need tools for both breastfeeding/pumping and formula feeding! My top recommended products include baby bottles with a sloped nipple like Dr. Browns or Evenflo Balance+ as these tend to work best for babies who go between boob and bottle, a good quality breast pump (I liked Spectra!), and bottle cleaning supplies like a drying rack and bottle brush.
I’m also a HUGE fan of using the formula pitcher method, both for pumping and for formula feeding. With pumped milk, you can add all the day’s output to a pitcher which helps balance foremilk and hindmilk and the bioactive components that can vary throughout the day. With formula, you can make a day’s worth of formula in one large batch and keep it in the fridge for up to 24 hours and pour from the pitcher when needed. You can also combine prepared formula and expressed breast milk from a pitcher if you want to offer mixed bottles!
5. If you had magical powers (think fairy dust), what would your power be?
I would love to be able to skip sleep without feeling any tiredness. As a mom who works full-time, there are often not enough hours in the day to do everything I want and need to go! It would be great to carve out some me-time in the middle of the night without regretting it the next day.
We are grateful for moms like Mallory that exemplify acceptance, support and guidance to moms all across the land!
And we are pumped to offer 15% off off The Dairy Fairy bras to all Bobbie subscribers, through the Bobbie Perks program.