August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, but we also acknowledge that there are many paths to feeding a newborn and recognize the challenges and triumphs of the infant feeding journey and support parents as they feed their littles ones the best way they know how. Bobbie has joined forces with influential new parents to reduce stigma when it comes to infant feeding, by sharing their stories of stories of guilt, shame, empowerment, and disappointment. One of those parents is Hannah Bronfman. The DJ, founder, and author sat down with the Bobbie team to reflect on her experience feeding her son Preston, in an effort to remind us to support each other in our choices as parents and to have empathy for everybody’s different situation.
After an unexpectedly difficult road to motherhood, Bronfman conceived via IVF on March 5, 2020, a week before the country went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bronfman gave birth to Preston and became a first-time parent with the coronavirus ongoing, and notes that those unprecedented times impacted the education she received around breastfeeding prior to giving birth: “It was a pandemic, everything was virtual, any birthing class or community space for pregnant women that I entered, no one was talking about breastfeeding. It was all about labor and delivery. So I felt like I didn’t… The only preparation I had about breastfeeding was really this little moms chat group that I had. And that’s where I relied on understanding which pump I should get and what pumping meant. I really didn’t even understand what the mechanism of pumping, what it did and how it affects your supply and how it affects your body and your hormones and your emotions, all the things, I really didn’t know.”
At the start of her breastfeeding journey, Bronfman recalls putting the expectation on herself to breastfeed her son for at least the first six months, and to see how it went from there. The experience was seamless at first, she says, reflecting on Preston’s “amazing” first latch: “He came out also sucking on a finger, and then he moved his finger, and he just went straight for the boob, and he was on the boob. I was like, ‘Is there anything even coming out of my boob?’ I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ But he was just on there. He was comfortable. And it was amazing. It was so blissful. It was awesome.”
Bronfman says that they then learned that Preston had a tongue tie, a lip tie, and two cheek ties that were impacting his latch, as well as “silent reflux.” Eventually, before she hit her 6-month goal, Preston began to ween early in favor of taking a bottle. She says, “When Preston decided to ween early, my supply was so low that then I was like, okay, well, I guess now I need to start pumping like crazy to get my supply back up. And after pumping like crazy for two weeks with no real increase, I was like, I can’t do this anymore. Honestly, I was miserable. My husband was like, ‘Why are you doing this to yourself? This is crazy. This has nothing to do with your bond. This has to do with you and your own goal.'”
Once Bronfman came to terms with the fact that she had “to respect what he wants” and accept that her milk supply was no longer enough to support what he needed to feed, she realized it was time to move past her aversion to baby formula and find an option she could feel comfortable giving her son: “Then the supply started to run low, and I had to make a decision of which formula to use. And then I started doing some really deep research, and I actually had a good business offer from an American formula brand. And when I looked at their ingredient list and the first ingredient was corn syrup, I said, absolutely not. Cannot get behind that. That’s when I also really started to understand what ingredients needed to be in formula, where I’m sourcing it from. A lot of people were telling me about European formula, they have better standards. They add in certain ingredients to their formula that is really geared towards infant development.”
That research ultimately led her to Bobbie, a certified USDA organic and non-GMO formula option, approved by the FDA but inspired by European-style formula recipes. Bobbie is female-founded and mom-led, and their team is made up of scientists, regulatory experts, marketers, and innovators who struggled to breastfeed exclusively, united in their disappointment of the current infant formula options in the U.S.
Bronfman acknowledges that there are both miracles present and barriers of entry in place when it comes to infant feeding, and that marginalized communities are particularly vulnerable when it comes to finding options they can trust. She says, “It’s a very interesting conversation because we obviously know that our bodies are made to do this. Women are phenomenal, we grow organs, we grow humans, we feed them, we are the only source of nutrition and life that we’re providing for these babies, but there are also alternative ways. And I think that we’re getting mixed messages in the media because the US is one of the only countries that really pushes formula onto people and targets low-income families specifically, but then they also come around and say, ‘Your baby should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life.’ So you’re getting mixed signals, you have to deal with everyone’s opinion on how it should be done, you’re getting notes from your mother-in-law or your stepmom or your aunt about how they think it should happen, or they did it this way.”
At the end of the day, what parents need most is access and education around all of their options, so that they can make a choice they feel not only comfortable with, but proud of, when it comes to caring for their baby and making sure they are safely well-fed.
Hannah has made a commitment to The Mama Glow Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization committed to advancing reproductive justice through Education, Advocacy and The Arts and is donating 1,000 cans of Bobbie Organic Infant Formula to the foundation in support of families in need.
Learn more about Hannah’s feeding journey and Bobbie’s campaign “How’s feeding going?”