Baby is finally here. Wait, what does “IT” eat?
Breastfeeding vs. Bottle Feeding – Never-ending Battle
There’s so many sharp opinions regarding this topic that I was very hesitant when deciding if I should even start thinking of writing this post at the very beginning. But as much as it is sensitive and sometimes controversial topic, it’s also very important. Your new baby is here. You need to feed him somehow, right? Many people (including me) have no idea what’s breastfeeding (or bottle feeding) about before they have their first baby. They don’t know how strong baby’s suck reflex is and how hard baby’s gums are. They don’t know how often baby needs to be fed and that “fed and dry baby” does not equal “happy baby.”
If you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed by all different opinions and you’re not sure yet if you’re BF (breastfeeding) or FF (formula feeding) person, here are some most important decision factors and points to think about before you make your choice.
Once again. This is a very sensitive topic. Everyone would agree with me if I say that normally, breastfeeding is the best way of feeding newborn baby. This is the most natural way of feeding babies ever. Mom’s milk is full of nutrients and antibodies against germs and viruses.
So why is formula feeding so common and popular? Formula milk has been especially designed to feed babies and I do believe that WHO as well as producers are doing their best to make sure it’s good for babies and to help babies grow big and healthy. At the end of the day, decision about how to feed your baby is solely and entirely up to you! Whatever reasons you have, it’s your choice and don’t talk to anyone who’s trying to convince you otherwise. Seriously, just tell them you don’t want to talk about it and walk away. They can make decisions about their baby, not yours!
At the end of the day, decision about how to feed your baby is solely and entirely up to you! Whatever reasons you have, it’s your choice and don’t talk to anyone who’s trying to convince you otherwise.
As I mentioned earlier, baby’s suck reflex is strong and gums are extremely hard. Babies want to be fed all the time (sometimes 24/7, for real!) and they can bite you and hurt you while doing it. At least until you both learn how to do it correctly AND until your soft skin gets harder. Of course, there are some women lucky enough not to experience any issues and they will be happy to breastfeed from the day one. You just never know if it’s you until day D arrives.
Me, personally, I did breastfeed all of my kids. It wasn’t easy at the start, I had some issues to overcome and I’m very proud of myself for succeeding. I was very determined and it did work out great at the end. All troubles were completely worth to go through.
Breastfeeding is a great experience and if you want to do it, follow the checklist below:
- make sure you read about it as much as possible up front, while you’re still pregnant;
- watch some YouTube videos about correct latch;
- take a note about where to get help.
Third point is the most important. Maybe your maternity hospital is running breastfeeding classes. Find your local LLL (La Leche League) representative and save a phone number to the closest lactation consultant. I also bought few ready-to-use bottles of baby first formula milk just in case. I never used them, but I remember how much it helped to have them in a kitchen shelf “just in case.”
What to buy?
The only thing you really need for breastfeeding is your baby. There’s two reasons for it:
- Without a baby there’s no-one to breastfeed.
- Without a baby it might be difficult to evoke your milk let down reflex.
But if you really want to buy something for breastfeeding purpose when you’re in the nesting phase of your pregnancy, here’s the list:
- Breast pads – pads that you wear in your bra to catch any leaking drops of milk to prevent your T-shirt from getting wet.
- Nice and comfy bra – there is a great choice of maternity or breastfeeding bras in shops but I found simple bras better as long as they were flexible enough to be pulled down on one side to allow my baby to latch on.
- Nipple cream – pick the one that is safe for your baby to swallow.
- Breast pump – hold on with this buy for the moment as you never know if you need one and which one is the best. Some mum’s find hard to pump milk without a baby latched on (the other side). Most maternity wards have pumps that can be borrowed. Or ask your friends with babies if you can borrow one from them.
Normally it is not recommended to pump the milk for the first six weeks until breastfeeding has settled. It is your baby who should stimulate your milk produce. It’s a game of demand and supply. Remember that baby will always get more milk from you than any pump does. Sometimes twice or triple the amount that you can see in the bottle after pumping.
If your breasts feel engorged with too much milk, treat them with a nice gentle massage using any cooking oil or nipple cream and leave the excess milk drop off until your baby gets hungry again. It will send a signal to your breasts that there’s no need for so much milk. Pumping the milk out would just lead to producing more milk. If you’re really badly engorged and feel pain in your breast, you can use cold pads to get some relief. Never use anything from the freezer, simple wet cloth should be enough. In case you feel unwell, very painful or your temperature raises above 38 degrees consult your doctor.
Sore and cracked nipples?
Most common problem at the start of breastfeeding is cracked nipples. It’s also a very common reason why intended breastfeeding ends up unsuccessful. Often fresh mum comes home from maternity hospital already with cracked nipples.
First of all, make sure the latch of your baby is correct. If yes, the cracks can be caused by your skin being too soft and vulnerable. Don’t worry, if this is the case, it should get better in a few days. What helps the best? Air. You will probably spend most of your time at home with the baby. Put the heating up, take off your tight clothes and enjoy plenty of skin to skin contact with your baby. Baby’s skin is so soft and smells lovely and he’s so little for such a short time!
If you decide or end up formula feeding your baby from the start for whatever reason, get some knowledge up front too. Make sure you know the brands of milk available in your country. Even go to the pharmacy and compare the table of vitamins and minerals in different brands. There might be some Organic options to consider. Also read about goat milk or soya milk substitutes. Some brands produce “comfort” line or “hungry baby” line too. It can be a process of several trials and errors before you find a milk that suits your baby. Therefore do not stock up on any brand in advance.
What to buy?
- Set of bottles – the choice of the right bottle and teat is important. There are some nice ergonomic options available now but some babies prefer classic old style. You can borrow few types of bottles from your friends to try before you buy the whole set yourself. Once you sterilize them, they’re perfectly fine.
- Set of teats for the bottles – make sure they’re newborn flow at the start. You should always check the teat before each use and if it seems damaged or weak, replace it.
- Sterilizer – you can use sterilizing tablets, electric steam sterilizer, microwave sterilizer or simply sterilize bottles and teats in the pot of boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Formula milk – as mentioned earlier, do not buy too much before baby comes.
- Also consider buying a laxative drops to have at hand as formula fed babies are more likely to get constipated.
- Thermos Flask – for storing hot water to either prepare your baby milk or to warm up the ready milk when you’re out and about.
- Milk powder dispenser – little container divided into 3-4 cells where you can keep the right amount of milk powder to quickly prepare desired amount of milk.
Formula feeding seems to be easier to start with but someone once told me that it’s just switching to a different set of problems. You will soon get into swing with preparing baby milk, learn the fastest way of leveling the scoops of milk powder and right amount of water to add. You’ll learn how to warm up or cool down the milk in the bottle and your baby will either learn to wait until the milk is served or you’ll learn how to predict next feeding time (no, babies do not have watch to keep in time).
Great advantage of FF is that anyone can feed your baby any time. That means that your partner can take some night shifts of you or you can leave a baby with grandma for few hours.
Being close to your baby
Skin to skin contact is very important and great for both you and your baby. It helps your baby adapt to a new environment. Imagine that all your baby has known up until his 0. birthday was your warm and safe uterus and rhythm of your heart. Let your baby enjoy it for a bit longer and snuggle with him in your bed.
Great way of interaction with your baby is gentle baby massage. Take a class if possible or get your healthcare provider to show you basic techniques. Especially if you want to help your baby with constipation or colic.
Rituals of happiness
Teach your baby rituals when he feels happy and calm, it will help you sooth him when not feeling well. Be there for your baby and take in all the signals he sends to you. He will let you know what he needs from the day one. Remember. You’re the mom, you know what’s the best for your baby!
Vit D3 is very important for your baby to grow strong bones and be healthy. Naturally, people get it from the sun. Few minutes of sun bathing couple of times a day is a great source of vitamin D. Your baby’s bare skin needs to be exposed to the sun, preferably with no sunscreen on. Use your common sense to keep your baby safe though as you know how harmful can Mr Sunshine be to a gentle baby skin.
As far as I know, all maternity hospitals, pediatricians and also WHO recommends Vit D3 supplement for all new babies, no matter if they’re breast or formula fed. So bottle of Vit D3 drops is a “must have” on your baby shopping list while you’re still pregnant. Ideally bring them with you to the maternity hospital at the day of labour.