Not all women are able to breastfeed, and some choose not to, and that’s every woman’s choice. But don’t get cajoled by industry into thinking that you have to use formula, because most of the time – you don’t. Breastfeeding is undoubtedly best for the health of a baby (including the thick colostrum produced just after birth). And although there’s no proof that it helps bonding (dads feed babies too!) there is evidence to suggest breastfeeding leads to less chance of cancer later on in life.
NHS has an updated list of organisations to help with breastfeeding, including special care babies and twins/triplets. Read Breastfeeding and the Fourth Trimester for tips, methods and reassurance on breastfeeding. Includes troubleshooting advice for the first few months, plus real parent stories. Lucy is a registered midwife and a fully lactation consultant.
zero waste baby bottles
You no longer have to use plastic if you bottle-feed or express milk for later use. You can now buy baby bottles from stainless steel (with easy-to-read measurements and a replacable food-grade silicone teat) that are dishwasher-safe. Or borosolicate glass (conforms to safety standards and resistant to heat and thermal shock, though obviously take care with these). They are sold with natural rubber teats.
how to donate breast milk
You can donate breast milk if in good health (it kind of works on supply and demand, so you won’t run out for your own baby). Treated like blood, expressed milk is frozen and screened, then given to preemie babies with delicate guts, for mothers unable to breastfeed (the next best thing to a mother’s milk – is another mother’s milk).
sustainable clothing for breastfeeding
This is a tricky one because most ‘nursing clothing’ usually adds a small percentage of Lycra for stretch and comfort. So just wear looser natural fibres or if wearing synthetic fibres, use a microplastic catcher in your machine, to stop the fibres going out to sea. Some items by Frugi are 100% organic cotton (like dungarees). Bshirt offers a nice line of organic nursing clothing, but most has lycra added.
organic breastfeeding tea
Nipper & Co is a reputable brand for breastfeeding tea (always check with your doctor first, if you have any issues or are on medication). But this brand is founded by a mother with a MSc in Medicinal Plants, so is as knowledgeable and safe as you get. Sold in sustainable packaging, the breastfeeding tea is caffeine-free and made with aniseed, fennel, caraway, lemon verbena, fenugreek and thyme. Designed to help milk flow and regulate hormonal production.
want to (need to) use formula?
All experts (including World Health Organisation) recommend breastfeeding if possible for the first year, as early feeding of dairy milk has links to type-1 diabetes. Viva! has a good information sheet if you are wishing to feed vegan formula (also read Feeding Your Vegan Child by an NHS dietitian). There are only a few plant-based formulas worldwide so talk with your midwife if any are suitable (or available):
If you’re going to feed dairy formula, then choose Kendamil which is locally made, organic and free from palm oil. It’s made with milk from grass-fed cows on family farms in the Lake District for better welfare (ignore the boast about Red Tractor, it means diddly squat other than it’s British). But this does appear to be a company that knows the farmers it buys from, and also sources other ingredients from Somerset, Kent and Yorkshire, and runs a green-powered factory.
Baby Milk Action runs the campaign to stop formula companies giving ‘free formula’ to women in developing countries. It’s not free when they return home, then some water it down (often with dirty water). WHO estimates around 800,000 babies could be saved each year, if breastfed.
a feeding cup for breastfeeding difficulties
Niftycup is used worldwide to help babies with cleft lip to ‘lap’ milk, to increase breastfeeding rates. Easy to use and clean, you can control the pace of feeding, due to a reservoir that ensures a baby doesn’t drink too much at once. You can also boil the soft silicone, and there are feeding measurements on the side of the cup.
This cup is being used in developing countries, to help stop the marketing of baby formula to poor mothers who can’t afford it, once they leave hospital (then they either water it down or mix with dirty water, leading World Health Organisation to say that 800,000 babies die each year from not breastfeeding, when they could. Baby Milk Action is campaigning to stop this practice.