postpartum wellness

Fed Is Best: Formula Substitute Recipe

Thankfully, human breastmilk is recognized around the world as the best source of nourishment for a baby. What a relief to put that debate to rest, after decades of marketing tactics by formula companies that led many women to believe their goddess-given, life-sustaining nectar is inferior. Now, as a whole, we can recognize and validate the art of breastfeeding for the gorgeous, miraculous act that it is. But for the women who don't produce enough milk, who struggle for whatever reason to breastfeed, or who simply choose the bottle, I would say this: "Fed is best." Your giving and loving is good. Thank you for feeding your child. You are doing a great job. I've been there. My first two children self-weaned at four and three months. It was devastating. Now currently breastfeeding my third child nine months after his birth, I feel victorious in having made it this far. It wasn't easy. No, not at all. From the moment he was cut out of my body we had to fight for it. I've lost track of how many times I've googled "how to increase breastmilk supply." I've pumped in bathrooms, offices, and freeways. We've nursed on demand, anywhere and everywhere. I've guzzled gallons of tea and swallowed countless capsules of herbs and supplements. (I'll write more on boosting supply another time.) We have a beautiful breastfeeding relationship, and I'm damn proud of us.

But yesterday, after a month of struggling with a lagging supply and dwindling freezer stash, he was just too hungry. Unable to nap or be soothed, I realized the time had come for supplementing. Instead of succumbing to feelings of failure as I did with my first two children, I went to the market with joy in my heart and purchased some raw, grass-fed cow's milk. With yet another gallon of Mother's Milk tea brewing on the stove, I assembled a delicious formula substitute for my son. He loved it! I rejoiced! We did it! It's all okay. He is fed, that is what matters. So with no further ado, here is the recipe I used, with a few helpful tips and links.

Cow's Milk Formula Substitute

  • 2 C raw, grass-fed cow's milk (it can be tricky to find, but start your search here. I found it at Sprouts. If you are unable to find raw milk, then try goat's milk, organic pasteurized milk, etc.)
  • 1/4 C homemade liquid whey (it's so easy! I used a nut milk bag and it worked beautifully. I made the whey from plain, organic whole milk yogurt from Trader Joe's.)
  • 4 T lactose (try Amazon. I couldn't find it anywhere else.)
  • 1/4 tsp bifodobacterium infantis (I used Udo's Choice Infant Probiotic, which is carried at many whole food stores)
  • 2 T organic cream, not ultra-pasteurized (this was also tricky to find, as nearly all creams these days are ultra-pasteurized. I finally found some at Sprouts and Whole Foods.)
  • 1 tsp Udo's Oil 3-6-9 Blend (I found it at Whole Foods, but you can also buy it online. Other formula substitute recipes call for the use of the individual oils found in this blend. I found it more cost effective to buy this high quality blend rather than each oil separately.)
  • 1 tsp organic extra virgin olive oil (in my experience, Trader Joe's has the best prices for this. You can also buy it online here.)
  • 2 tsp organic coconut oil (Trader Joe's sells 16 oz. for $5.99, which is the best deal I've found. You can also buy it online here.)
  • 1/2 tsp. nonflavored fermented cod liver oil (find it here)
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast (carried by many whole food stores, or you can buy it online here.)
  • 2 tsp bovine gelatin (no luck at any stores here in LA, so I bought it online. Adds protein and a slight thickening to the formula.)
  • 1/4 tsp acerola powder (I searched at multiple health food stores but to no avail. Finally bought it here.)
  • 1 7/8 C water (just remove 2 T water from 2 C. Be sure to use either filtered or distilled!)

Combine water and gelatin in saucepan and heat just until gelatin has dissolved. Then add all ingredients in blender and mix well. I used a low setting on my Vitamix for about 30 seconds.

You can find the original recipe here. I made a few changes to my recipe... I use the Udo's Oil 3-6-9 blend instead of purchasing individual oils that various recipes I researched call for. I also did not include the optional high vitamin butter oil, because it's expensive and I am still giving my son breastmilk anyway, so I excluded it.

You might notice that guilt, shame, and failure are not included in this recipe. So long as you are doing your best to nourish and love your child (and yourself), then you have succeeded. Give yourself a hug, pour yourself a glass of wine, and remember that in the end, it's the love you have for your child that matters the most.

Making liquid whey is easy! And then you have fresh cream cheese leftover! Yum.

The final product!

Happy baby, happy mama. A bottle full of love. Success.

(This is not intended to provide medical advice. Please do your own research and consult with your pediatrician for what is best for your baby.)

If you are breastfeeding and/or pumping, check out my favorite hands-free pump bra by PumpEase and my go-to breastmilk boosting herbal supplements Euphoric Herbals. Using code EBP at checkout gives you a 15% discount off your total order. 

Disclosure: many of the active links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase through these links, Empowered Birth Project receives a small commission and there is no difference in cost for you. It helps support us and every little bit counts. Thank you!! 

4th Trimester Yoga Challenge

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The "4th trimester" is a sacred and often neglected time in a woman's cycle of pregnancy and birth. While it is not a medical term, the 4th trimester is commonly described as the first three months after childbirth. It is a time of tremendous upheaval and adjustment for both mother and baby, and a common sentiment among postpartum women is that during this time it is very difficult to find time for self care (for obvious reasons!). There's a saying in yoga that the best time to relax and meditate is when you are too busy to do it. Never is this more true than during the 4th trimester! I believe that creating space for self care after childbirth is crucial to recovering both physically and spiritually. Since yoga challenges played a big role in motivating me to spend time on my mat during pregnancy, I decided to create a 4th Trimester Yoga Challenge on Instagram to encourage new mamas and mamas-to-be to carve out space and time to take care of themselves.

My co-host for the challenge is a yoga mom named Claire who lives on the other side of the world in the Philippines. She has a beautiful yoga practice and an even more beautiful heart. We connected on Instagram during our pregnancies. When I was having a difficult time recovering after my csection, she once dedicated a sunrise to me in hopes it would lift my spirits (and it truly did!). Together Claire and I will present a daily challenge pose that is meant to alleviate common ailments of the 4th trimester such as neck and shoulder stiffness, weakened core muscles, and an aching back. Because Claire had an uncomplicated vaginal birth and I had an emergency cesarean birth (and I also have diastasis recti), we will offer a variety of pose modifications for mamas to choose from as they participate in the challenge.

The contest is being sponsored by an inspirational young woman, Amelia, who recently lost her firstborn son, Landon, just four days after he was born due to complications during labor. She has donated as a beautiful pair of yoga leggings from her latest line of yoga apparel, Prana Vida Style, to be given to the winner of the challenge. Amelia and I also connected during our pregnancies, and her willingness to share her grieving process with the world through social media has been a source of comfort and healing to me after my son's traumatic birth. Finally, my dear friend Ileah is also sponsoring the challenge and has donated three bottles of her crystal-infused ConsciousMyst body spray-- Spirit, Warrior, and Beauty. Ileah and I met several years ago through mutual friends. We didn't see each other much until we suddenly found ourselves pregnant at the same time and needing support in the vast metropolis of Los Angeles. Our friendship grew and blossomed along with our bellies. She too underwent an emergency cesarean delivery.

You can keep tabs on this challenge here, on my Instagram page, and on Facebook as well! Please spread the word to anyone who know who could use a little extra self care in their daily lives. I am honored to share this space with you as we heal, nurture, and recreate ourselves after childbirth.

Mamaste,

Katie