Formula feeding is both a practical and necessary choice for working mothers. It enables them to align the responsibilities of motherhood with career aspirations. This isn’t an easy feat, even in a progressive country like America.
Surprisingly, the American maternity leave policy is among the worst on the list of the richest countries. As the only OECD country not having a national statutory paid maternity leave, it hardly meets the expectations of new mothers.
Statistics also show that 25% of American women are forced to rejoin within two weeks of delivery to support their families. If you are among these numbers and struggle to express breast milk, formula feeding is a viable option as it eases the transition.
Before adopting formula feeding as a working mom, you should know some facts to ensure efficacy and safety. We have a few essential facts to help you return to work without worrying about the nutrition and well-being of your little one.
Ensure Nutritional Adequacy
The primary concern for a working mother switching from breastfeeding to formula is the nutritional adequacy of the product. According to WHO, infants can derive all the nutrients they need during the first six months of life from breast milk. It continues to suffice for up to half of their nutritional needs during the next six months.
You may have valid qualms about covering these requirements with formula milk. Fortunately, modern products replicate the nutritional composition of breast milk. The ingredient lists of these products include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals in optimal amounts.
However, it is crucial to pick an appropriate one according to your infant’s age and dietary needs. The best way to do it is by seeking advice from your pediatrician.
Be Aware of Potential Risks
The right baby formula can be a lifesaver for a working mother who needs to leave her baby home for long hours. However, side effects are an integral part of the package. Stomach problems, skin reactions, eczema, and stuffy nose are a few common side effects of cow-milk-based products. A bigger risk is necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a severe and sometimes fatal intestinal inflammation.
Premature babies weighing less than two pounds at birth are at a high risk of NEC. According to TorHoerman Law, Similac and Enfamil are the leading manufacturers facing lawsuits for the failure to warn new parents about the risk of NEC to premature babies. Parents are filing these lawsuits to seek justice and compensation for the pain and suffering of their little ones.
The latest NEC lawsuit update states that 263 active cases are pending in Illinois. Also, the first bellwether test trials may start at the beginning of 2024. Parents can expect massive settlements ranging between $5,000 to over $500,000. These factors indicate that mothers should consider these risks before deciding on formula feeding and returning to work.
Create a Habit
Whether you return to work after a few weeks or several months, adjustment to formula feeding is challenging for your little one. Remember that your baby cannot get used to a bottle overnight, specifically if you have been exclusively breastfeeding. Start preparing your infant well ahead of time to ensure an easy transition.
If you plan to leave your baby with your partner, a caregiver, or grandparents, you should ensure they know all the feeding tricks in the book. Every child is different, and even the most experienced caregiver may struggle to understand what works for your little one. Timing is as critical as technique, so you should also set up a schedule beforehand.
Seek Workplace Accommodations
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) gives breastfeeding employees the right to a private space and reasonable break time to express breast milk at work. You may not get similar workplace accommodations for a formula-fed baby. However, you can still discuss options such as working from home or taking breaks from work during the transitional phase.
You shouldn’t hesitate to communicate your needs to your employer. Most business owners are ready to go the extra mile to create a supportive work environment for female workers. It fosters a positive employer brand and boosts retention rates. If your employer fails to cover these needs, consider looking for a new job.
The Bottom Line
Adopting formula feeding as a working mom can be challenging. Beyond the practical hindrances of getting your baby habitual to the bottle, you may experience mommy guilt for giving up on breastfeeding.
Finding a middle path is the best solution as it enables you to give the best of both worlds to your little one. With the right product and approach to formula feeding, you can regain control over your career without worrying about the health of your baby.