Breastfeeding vs. Formula feeding can be a hot debate. Many people will have an opinion on what is best. Often your personal situation will dictate which option is best for you. Every mother is different and every baby is different. There is no right answer to the question of whether breast milk or formula is best. The answer should be that fed is best.
Since the beginning of time mothers have been nourishing their babies with breast milk. In theory, it is a ready supply of food tailored just for your baby. But there is far more to breast feeding than you might think...
Before trying to breast feed, you might think it is the most natural thing in the world. But it comes with a steep learning curve. Both the mother and baby will have to learn how to do it best, and find their own routine. Your baby will need to learn to latch on properly and how to suckle, this can be difficult if they have a tongue tie. Mum will need to learn the best position to hold baby and how to establish a routine. Be prepared for breastfeeding to hurt at first Mama!
Breast Milk is not the same consistency every time you feed. Your body will produce the kind of milk your baby needs at the time. In the first few days, you will product colostrum. This is like a super milk that contains all the antibodies that a newborn requires to protect them from a world of germs.
When your regular milk comes through then you will produce both foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is thinner in consistency and is what comes out at the beginning of a feed, it is more for quenching baby’s thirst. The foremilk follows and has a fattier content, designed to fill them up.
Some mothers will find that they have an abundance of milk. If this is you, then you may need to express some milk for comfort. Expressed milk will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. If you are expressing, then ensure you use a sterilised container to store the milk in. Other mothers may find that their supply is lower than they would like. Certain foods are known to increase your milk supply, such as breastfeeding cookies. You can make your own or purchase them from a retailer.
It is recommended that you exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months. Then, it is encouraged to continue breastfeeding until your baby is 12 months old, and beyond if it works for you and your baby.
Some families will choose to feed via formula, or some will have to. Either way, formula is the best possible alternative to breast milk. It will provide your baby with the essential nutrients to thrive and grow.
There are many brands of formula available, but not all are the same. You will find that there will be some brands that your baby prefers over others. Whether it be taste or texture, they will know what they like and let you know.
You will find that you will need to purchase different formulas based on the age and stage of your child. Newborn babies will require a different kind of formula to 1 year olds. Each stage of formula will give your baby the nutrients required to grow healthy and strong.
One of the great things about formula is its convenience. Anyone can feed your baby and at any time. This can be a great opportunity for Dad’s to take some of the night time shifts to give Mum a break. Feeding time is a wonderful time to bond with your baby. Formula feeding means that other family members can take this precious time to bond with your baby.
It is vital that formula is stored and prepared correctly. Do not use formula that is beyond its expiration date. Make sure that your hands are clean before preparing a bottle. The bottle and teats must be sterilised correctly before use. It is recommended to boil and cool the water for children under the age of 3 months.
If your baby prefers warmed formula, then place the bottle in a bowl of warm water and leave it to stand for several minutes. You can also run the bottle under a hot tap to warm the formula within. Do not warm the bottle in a microwave as the liquid may warm unevenly and cause hots spots that could burn your baby’s mouth. Discard any unused formula after a feed, it does not take long for bacteria to form.
Some families will choose to feed with a combination of breast milk and formula. This can be for many reasons, returning to work, medical issues, or other caregivers looking after your baby.
It is a good idea to gradually decrease the number of breastfeeds to avoid the risk of mastitis. It only takes 3-7 days for your milk supply to adjust to missed feeds. Be mindful that your milk supply could decrease with combination feeding.