The debate over breastfeeding versus formula feeding is alive and well these days. Many women decide on one method during pregnancy and then change their mind once the infant arrives, or in the weeks following. The decision to breastfeed, formula feed, or combination feed is based on a family’s comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical situations. Debating the benefits of each method can help you decide what is best for you and your child.
Breastfeeding Tips and Information for New Mothers
Various health organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and other reputable agencies recommend breastfeeding as the preferable option because it helps defend against infections and certain chronic conditions for both the mother and child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of their child’s life, and if possible, breastfeed up until the child is one years old. According to the World Health Organization, exclusive breastfeeding is when your child receives breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water. If you plan on breastfeeding, attend a class while you’re pregnant to help you learn more about the process to alleviate stress later on. It is also worthwhile to meet with a lactation consultant after the baby is born. Below are some things to keep in mind if you plan on adhering to this method.
Milk Production in New Mothers
The rule of thumb is that the more you breastfeed, the more milk you’ll produce. Establishing an adequate milk supply can be a challenge, and is a common problem amongst women that have multiples, and who have given birth later in life.
Nutrition Tips for Breastfeeding Moms
New moms should consume 330 calories more than what they ate prior to giving birth, and not skip any meals. Essential snacks and easy to make foods to keep on hand include squeezable yogurt packs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, instant oatmeal, and low-fat popcorn. Nursing mothers should have less than 5oz of caffeine a day, drink plenty of water, and eat calcium-rich products.
Ways to Tell if Your Baby is Getting Enough Breast Milk
An indication that your baby is satiated is the appearance of frequent mustard-yellow colored stools and six to eight wet diapers a day. He or she should be gaining half an ounce to an ounce a day during the first three months, and half an ounce between 3 to 6 months.
What is Mastitis and How is it Caused
Mastitis is a breast inflammation normally caused by infection. It can happen to any woman, and usually occurs during the first six months of breastfeeding. Causes include going for long stretches between nursing or failing to empty the breast completely. It is discouraging and painful but can be solved with treatment.
What is Power Pumping
Power pumping is the act of emptying breast milk in a series of 10-minute sessions over the course of an hour, and is designed to trick your body into thinking that your baby needs to eat more frequently. Moms that practice this method should start in the morning, and should see results after 2-3 days. Utilizing this technique helps stockpile supply for working moms.
What is Night Weaning
If your infant is older than six months, there are several methods you could employ for successful night weaning. First and foremost, you want to make sure that your baby is nursing in copious amounts during the day. If you’ve introduced solid foods into your baby’s diet, make sure to provide as much nutritious food as possible throughout the day. Second, adhering to a routine is important, which includes nursing just before bedtime. After you’ve put the baby to sleep, don’t continue pumping because this will diminish supply. Lastly, don’t attempt night weaning if your baby is sick, teething, or if you’re in the midst of any significant transitions, such as returning to work, or if you’re planning on going on vacation. Many babies who once slept through the night will begin to wake up again when there is a disruption to the daytime routine.
Formula Feeding Tips and Information for New Mothers
It is important to keep in mind that breastfeeding is not always possible for women, single father households or households that have two dads. Infant formula is a healthy alternative, providing babies with the vitamins and nutrients that they need to grow. The product is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and meets the nutritional needs of infants. Most brands are the same, with the exception of a key ingredient, the fatty acid DHA. Some studies have shown that DHA can improve cognition and visual processing. Below are some things to keep in mind if you plan on formula feeding.
A Happy Mom is a Happy Baby
Moms that choose to formula feed often feel guilty because of the “breast is best” mantra prevalent in society. One isn’t any better than the other since there are benefits to both choices. Focus on making the right decision for you and your family.
Benefits of Formula Feeding
Formula feedings allows for the opportunity of equitable parenting, allowing both parents equal time to bond with the child. Your partner can assist with nighttime feedings so you can get more sleep. Many mothers also discontinue breastfeeding prior to the six month mark because they have to return to work, and formula provides a healthy alternative.
Things you Should Know Before Preparing Baby Formula
Always wash your hands before preparing formula. Make sure to clean and rinse bottles and artificial nipples carefully. Discard any leftover formula, which can spoil easily and upset your baby’s stomach. Once opened or mixed, formula is good for about one hour out in the open. Powdered formula comes with an expiration date so double-check all labels. Never heat formula in the microwave. Sometimes switching formulas can help settle digestive issues but check with your child’s pediatrician prior to making any adjustments.
Follow Your Baby’s Lead
Each baby is unique and will vary his or her intake from day to day, or from feeding to feeding. Never force-feed additional formula, and don’t leave your child wanting more. An infant that spits up often may do better with smaller, more frequent feedings.
All Babies Digest Formula Differently
Formula moves at a slower pace through the digestive tract, resulting in longer breaks between feeding times. The stools are likely to be slightly larger and drier than those of breastfed babies. If your baby appears to be wetting fewer diapers than usual, call your healthcare provider.
What are Paced Bottle Feedings
Paced bottle feeding is a method of feeding your baby that mimics breastfeeding. As the name indicates, it involves pacing your feedings to allow your baby to be in “control” during the feeding, process, and then recognize his or her own feeling of fullness. The infant will eat more slowly and work harder to obtain the milk as he or she would during breastfeeding.
Combination Feedings Tips and Information for New Mothers
Many parents feed their infants a combination of breast milk and formula at some point during their baby’s early months. Many pediatricians and nursing experts support this practice, suggesting that combination feedings help mothers breastfeed for a longer period of time.
Signs that You Might Need to Supplement with Formula
Some women struggle with undersupply, and use formula to compensate for the difference. Consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s weight gain, growth, or eating habits. One factor to think about is more than normal weight loss in a newborn, less than six wet diapers in a 24-hour period once your baby is five days old, and symptoms of fussiness or lethargy.
Benefits of Postpartum Help
Newborn specialists are extremely beneficial to new parents, and can help teach them how to take care of their baby themselves. They can assist with preparation and cleaning of bottles, bathing and changing, weaning the baby onto solid food, and staying up-to-date on developmental milestones. For more information on these certified individuals, visit our newborn care specialist page.
Postpartum Depression in New Mothers
Postpartum depression and anxiety are not just bad days. Women with PPD or anxiety experience certain symptoms for most of the time, and for a period of at least two weeks or longer. Symptoms include feeling overwhelmed, as though you can’t handle being a mother, not feeling bonded to your baby, including feelings of nothingness, being unable to stop crying, and others. For a more comprehensive list, visit The National Institute of Mental Health.
Regardless of whether you choose to exclusively breastfeed, formula feed, or a combination of both, what matters at the end of the day is that your baby is healthy and fed. While you’re weighing the pros and cons of your decision, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant. They can provide you with more information about the options available and how to make the best decision for your family. For more information on our baby nurses and nannies, contact us at 973-466-2669 or via the website today!