Breast is best!
If you’re a mum or mum-to-be and have not heard this expression, then you’ve been living in a cave!
The debate of whether breastfeeding a baby is better and more beneficial than formula-feeding has been around for years.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, some four years ago, I decided that I was going to breastfeed my child and that was that.
I mean, It was the most natural thing to do. My mother did, and her mother, and mother before that.
Once my daughter was born, my body began producing so much milk I didn’t know what to do with it all. I remember being able to express 8oz of milk in 5 minutes. She nursed well. We did not experience any latching issues or sore nipples. By the time she was two weeks, she would sleep for four hours after a feed. I was living the new mommy dream!
I wondered why so many parents chose not to breastfeed their babies. Part of me judged them for not giving their child what was best.
All those nutrients and all that milk that your body makes. Why on earth would one even consider formula?
So, when I fell pregnant with my son, I didn’t think twice about how he would feed. I didn’t even bother buying bottles or a steriliser. Why would I when breastfeeding was so easy, right?
Adamant breastfeeding was the only way forward. I discarded any thoughts of formula feeding all together.
Unfortunately, I was in for a shock!
Firstly, my milk did not come in until three days after giving birth, which meant that my son hardly fed for 3 DAYS! I consulted my Health visitor about it at one of her visits, and she reassured me that my milk would come in. I just had to keep putting him to the breast.
A week went past, and some milk began to dribble through. Not much, though. No matter how much my son fed, he was always hungry.
At times, he would nurse for hours, and some he would only nurse for only 10 minutes and fall asleep. The most frustrating thing was that I couldn’t tell whether he had enough or not. I didn’t know whether he fell asleep from being full or from being tired of sucking in vain. I had no idea of measuring how much he was taking in.
The thought that I was potentially starving my son tore my heart apart.
I was getting more and more frustrated.The night feeds were a nightmare. On good nights, I was getting up every hour and a half. Otherwise, it was every half hour – tired I most certainly was. My nipples were so sore from the constant sucking. It was either my son was a very, very hungry baby, or I just wasn’t producing enough milk, and it made me very anxious. No one wants to starve their baby.
Adamant that I was going to breastfeed my baby, I went about researching on foods the ‘enhance’ breast milk production and pressed on. But no matter how much oats I ate, my milk just refused to come in.
I started considering other options and started questioning my views on exclusive breastfeeding.
Why is it that experts say ‘breast is best’ is it best for EVERYONE?
Don’t get me wrong; breast milk has a lot of benefits.
Fighting Infection and Other Conditions
breast milk enhances the baby’s immune system which helps the baby fight off infections such as ear infections, diarrhoea, respiratory infections, as well as common colds. Breastfeeding is particularly beneficial for premature babies.
Ease Of Digestion.
Breast milk is more natural for babies to digest as it contains natural components such as hormones, protein, essential fatty acids, water and growth factors. Which are all beneficial for baby’s growth and which all play a part in helping your baby’s development.
Call me a weirdo, but because babies easily digest breast milk, I preferred my daughter’s breast milk poo to my son’s formula poo. It smelt somewhat sweeter.
Cost Effective – It’s Free
Breast milk is free and thus saving money that can go towards something else. There’s nothing better than that.
The taste of breast milk depends on what mummy has had to eat. Yep, the flavour of the food you eat also affects the smell and taste of the milk.
So, unless you eat the same food every day, your baby gets to have a broken down version of your food, that’s enough to keep their curious pallets happy.
However, just like in pregnancy, it’s advisable for the mother to cut or reduce intake of certain foods from their diet that may harm the baby. Since their immune system is not fully functioning and robust enough to fight off certain bacteria that may be present in some foods such as raw eggs. Caffeine and alcohol may also pass through breast milk to the baby. Therefore it’s best to avoid them when you are breastfeeding.
It’s also advisable to seek doctors’ advice of which medication you can take while breastfeeding, just like foods and drink, medication can pass through your milk glands and into the baby’s system.
Breastfeeding your baby is also very convenient. You can feed your baby wherever – yes, anywhere and anytime. You don’t have to wait for the milk to get to the right temperature. Apart from washing your breasts when you have a bath, there’s no need to put your chest through a steriliser!
Your breast milk is readily available on demand.
Skin To Skin Contact
Breastfeeding gives you the chance to bond with baby with skin to skin contact. It’s this kind of connection that makes babies more relaxed when feeding because they are in a familiar place. They get to smell their mother’s scent, and contact helps them relax. It’s also
Breastfeeding Benefits for Mum?
Breastfeeding can also have positive effects on mummy body. Apparently, a mother uses about 500 calories when breastfeeding. It also helps your uterus shrink back to its standard size and thus increasing the pace of organ healing.
How Long Should You Breast Feed?
The length of time you breastfeed is dependent on the mother and the baby. This should be an informed decision made by the mother after evaluating her circumstances and ability. For example, if you’re planning on going back to work, it would not be a good idea to carry on breastfeeding as this will not be possible. Unless you are planning on taking your child to work and your boss allows you to take several breaks. Listen to your baby, some babies become really distressed when weaned off and they don’t take it well. Others, don’t really mind. It took one day for my daughter to fully wean off being exclusively breastfed to exclusively being formula fed. I still wonder how that happened, to this day.
CHALLENGES OF BREASTFEEDING
At times breastfeeding can bring about its challenges. Such as trying to get the baby to latch. Some mothers find this process difficult and end up being in discomfort when they breastfeed.
Remember your breasts will produce milk from when your baby is born, so they are likely to be engorged and sore, the last thing you need is a painful bleeding nipple at the end of a sore boob. Speak to your Midwife or Health visitor if you are finding it hard to breastfeed. Especially if your baby is continuously unable to latch or finding it difficult to suckle. Insist they check under your baby’s tongue. Your baby may be tongue-tied (this is when a baby has a tight piece of skin between the underside of the tongue and the floor of their mouth).
Time And Frequency Of Feeding
During the early days or even weeks of your newborn baby’s life, they will feed often, this can be every 2 to 3 hours, through a 24-hour period. So, this means at night as well.
Therefore, when you are breastfeeding your child, you have to be ready to wake up every 2 hours to feed your baby. It can be very exhausting as you can’t ask someone else like your partner to step in and help you.
Doing the night feeds can also be lonely especially when your partner next to you is busy snoring, and they are in la-la land, and you must feed your baby. Lack of sleep can cause stress and all sorts.
The benefits of formula feeding are that you can feed anywhere without being embarrassed by ‘flashing’ or having a fight contest between you, a screaming baby and a feeding blanket.
Formula-feeding also comes with the convenience and ability to share feeding duties with your partner or your ‘helper’ while you try to catch up on that much-needed sleep. It also means that you can get on with rediscovering you after the baby is born. It gives you the ability to have some ‘me time’.
You can leave your child with a babysitter while you do some grocery shopping or just pop out for coffee. It’s is also beneficial when you are Preparing for
Lack Of Antibodies
As brilliant as science may be, it has not advanced to a point where they can powder human breast milk.
Most formula milk on the market contains cow’s milk, Which is modified to resemble human breast milk. There is soy-based formula milk available, to suit babies that are intolerant to cow’s milk.
No matter how much formula is modified, It cannot match breast milk for the simple fact that it’s not breast milk. Therefore, the baby cannot be expected to get the same benefits from it as it would on breast milk. It does not mean a breastfed baby is healthier than a formula fed baby.
Should you decide to feed your baby formula milk exclusively or otherwise, it is advisable to do some research on which milk will be best for your baby.
When I finally weaned my daughter off breast milk and gave her formula, I started off with a brand of formula that was said to be closest to mother’s milk. Unfortunately, this did not agree with her.
It made her cranky, she suffered from diarrhoea, and it gave her severe nappy rash. We didn’t even use a quarter of the milk before trying a second brand.
The difference was noticeable from the start! My daughter was more settled; her bowel movement improved and she was a pleasant child to be around. You just must try until you find one that suits your baby. It can be the first brand you try, or it could be the third.
Planning And Organising
Formula feeding means planning and organising are imperative.
As you can imagine, bottle washing and sterilising is an everyday task.
When you go out, make sure you have enough milk to last your baby with a little extra ‘just in case’. The last thing you need is getting stuck somewhere far from home with a hungry baby and no formula!
The other important thing is when you are preparing formula milk for your child; it’s a must to follow the instructions on the packet. While you might be familiar with them from making all those night bottles, your babysitter might not.
It’s so important to make sure you educate them on how to prepare the Formula milk properly. You can overcome this hurdle by having pre-measured formula powder milk in sterile milk pots ready to use.
Formula milk can be expensive and that something that you have consider when deciding on how you which to feed your baby.
The Choice Is Yours
All said, how you choose to feed your baby is entirely up to you and your baby. Should your body will let you breastfeed your baby exclusively, then go for it.
However, if your body, for some reason does not produce enough milk for your baby, don’t lose sleep over it!
Get the baby on formula. It is far better to have a fed baby than a starving baby in the name of ‘breast is best’.
Did I feel guilty for giving my baby formula at such an early age? Of course, I did. But to see him smile and sleep for 4 hours straight after a feed, made me realise that I had made the right choice.
It’s essential for new mothers out there to realise that formula is NOT poison for your baby. Neither is it the enemy. It’s there to help you. You can use it along breastfeeding as well as exclusively. Yes, it’s not breast milk, but it has the same nutritional benefits as breast milk.
It’s there to help your baby, not harm them.
I decided to stop feeling guilty and start embracing the change. It meant my husband could do night feeds, I could leave my son with my mum and I didn’t have to stress about bruising my breast while trying to squeeze the tiniest bit of milk out of it 10 minutes before going out.
I experienced both sides of the coin, and if you see my children standing next to each other, you would not be able to tell which one was on breast milk and which wasn’t. My son is a bouncy little boy! He’s thriving and most importantly healthy.
What is this social stigma behind feeding your child formula? And what’s so terrible about it? Will it harm your child, or is it able to satisfy a hungry baby too?
Personally, I feel that mothers should never rule out formula milk as an alternative feed. It’s so important to recognise that a baby needs to FEED first! Whether on breast milk, formula milk or from a milk bank!
Breast milk might be best, but is it best for everyone?