Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding
The age long debate between breastfeeding and bottle feeding has been spanning for way too long but just as we are all different individuals, our babies will be too.
Breastfeeding advice and organic formula choices. What you need to know.
Breastfeeding is hard but well worth it if you can manage to do it. The AAP (American Medical Association) and WHO recommend exclusively breastfeeding as the best choice for babies up to 6 months. Antibodies and nutrition are passed from mother to child during breastfeeding and gives them protection from infections such as diarrhoea, ear infection and meningitis. It also helps prevents allergies and a number of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and SIDS. On top of that, it's been found that mother's develop a lower chance of developing breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Some of the other benefits of breastfeeding include:
- skin to skin contact
- when breastfeeding, your body burns calories and shrinks the uterus
Breastfeeding doesn't go without its own challenges.
The milk from breastfeeding is amazing in that it can change according to your baby needs, it can be more watery on a hot day for example and can pass on antibodies when you're sick to the baby. The milk also is more easily digestable, which means babies are ready for more milk more frequently. The term breastfeeding on demand means you are responsive to your baby needs and cues and allowing them to latch on when necessary.
The ability to express breastmilk to store in the freezer and get bottle fed with breastmilk can help alleviate some of the tiredness and also allow fathers or carers to build an emotional connection to the little one. In this way, you will need to ensure items used to bottle feed and store breastmilk are clean and sterile. Warm up breastmilk milk by soaking the water bottle in hot water or using a bottle warmer as you would for formula milk.
Latches can sometimes be painful but if you're keen to do, persevere with your mid wives or lactation consultants until you get the perfect latch and position. Don't be afraid to say it doesn't work or to keep asking. Personally, it took me a whole week and 4 different nurses who visited us at home before finding the right latch and confidence to feed properly.
Diet and medical conditions also affects breastmilk. So whereby it can be positive to allow baby to have breastmilk, it can also pass through anything not beneficial to baby such as alcohol, caffeine or medications that may be required during chemotherapy or other medical conditions. A doctor is best sought to discuss these kind of matters.
Breastfeeding is more common now but if you still find yourself shy exposing your breast to feed then there are a myriad of breastfeeding shawls, discreet nursing tops or manual pumps which you can quickly express into a pump and then bottle feed around the dining table if you're out with friends.
Some tips on maintaining your supply.
- Drink plenty of fluid. Always keeping a warm thermos near you and drink each time you feed
- You will be hungry when you breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mother will burn many calories producing milk and don't be surprised if you find yourself hungrier in the first month of feeding than in pregnancy. The uterus contracts more and you'll find yourself losing post baby weight faster. This is probably also to more frequent night wakes to feed.
- Keep on hand lactation products like breastfeeding tea, lactation cookies and even lactation crackers. Try to make you own or purchase some ready made ones to keep in your pantry.
- Green or unripe papaya increases the production of oxytocin, helping to boost breast milk production, bone broth,
- Mix your own cereal with organic corn flakes, sultana, coconut flakes, pepita seeds and milk for constant snacking anytime of the day
- Drink and eat warm ginger to boost your supply
- Sit with a heat pack on your stomach post partum and have hot showers to boost supply. The heat will stimulate the breastfeeding. Keep a towel handy though for breast leakages.
- Keep pumping if you have a blocked duct and consult a doctor as soon as you can. A hot shower can help release milk. Don't let blocked ducts turn into mastitis.
- Seek a good natural nipple cream and keep on hand for breastfeeding and dry lips and hands.
Enjoy the journey. Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, enjoy the cuddles and look into their eyes when you feed. The same emotional connection and deepening can occur whether you feed by the breast or bottle.
There are a lot of pressure for new moms these day to breastfeed and with that, a lot of mother's guilt around it when you can't. It is important to make decisions for your needs and not due to social pressures.
Old wives tales or myths would have you believe that breastmilk surely loses its nutrients the longer you feed. It's true though that if your circumstances don't allow your milk to flow, you can't be on hand to feed or if it cannot contain adequate nutrition to the baby, bottle feeding is not a negative option and can be for the wellbeing of both child and mother.
Bottle feeding actually is often harder work. Meticulously measurement of each scoop, dedication and organisation requires a lot of love and thought in itself as well as the amount of tired eye mamas doing intense research through the night to see what would be best for their newborns.
A big salute is required for all the mamas out there, we don't know why we can't idolise all moms as they're meant to be. Wonderful human beings trying to do the best for their child and raise a healthy little munchkin!
If you have to bottle feed, be sure to know that your baby will naturally tell you what's best for them and no matter how great someones else's experience is with a certain formula, it might not be the same for you.
What is in your hands though, is determining what is important to you. For us, organic was a big tick. But then we had mom's coming instore telling us amazing stories of their regal processes and research into buying a particular brand. Demeter meant that it was even stricter than just organic milk, PRE had no maltodextrin or that certain formula had soy while others did not. Consulting your paediatrician or family doctor can help you with these kind of decisions or just trying and seeing what your baby thrives on.
Some of the convenience of bottle feeding includes:
- The sole carer does not have to be just mom. There is flexibility and room for others to be able to feed the baby
- Availability of milk especially where the baby is not gaining weight or if the milk supply hasn't come in to keep up with baby's needs
- Scheduled timing for feeding. Breastmilk is more quickly digestable so you will find baby will want more sooner, however, formula often is digested slower so therefore baby will take longer between feeds. Goat milk has been found to be the closest to breastmilk research has shown and is a great first alternative
- Diet and Medication. Things such as alcohol or medication cannot be passed through to the baby. This allows ease of mind if and when you need to have them.
The challenges of bottle feeding though can include the costs.
Formulas can become expensive and babies need to be on baby formula for at least 12months of age before they can drink regular cow's milk.
There is a possibility of more gas and constipation in bottle fed baby and many mom's seek high and low changing formulas to ensure little ones are happy and regular. Good technique in feeding and burping is important in this matter and ensuring no air is being seep through the bottle when baby latches on to the bottle.
Planning and organisation is also key to have formula available and readily on hand. This includes ensuring all the bottles are clean and sterilise and ready for the next feed each time for home and when out and about.
The main guilt concern of mother's switching to breastfeeding is that it lacks the antibodies and complexity of breastmilk. Many formulas these days tries to address these needs and care is made to ensure that the required vitamins and minerals at different stages of growth are addressed. If concerned, do consult your GP or paediatrician to discuss.
Identifying a formula that responds well to your little one is key. You will find once the formula is agreeable with your little one, they shouldn't be suffering from gas or constipation and can thrive just as well!