Mom 2 Mom: Wanda Asks Breast Milk or Formula
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I am sixteen weeks along and have been reading anything and everything, weighing the pros and cons of BF and FF. Is one any better than the other? I’m a first time mom too so I want to do what’s best for my baby.
Ask any pediatrician or nutritionist, and they will tell you that breast milk is unquestionably the best form of nutrition for little ones who have mothers who are not on any medications that interfere with breastfeeding. In fact, breast milk is often referred to as “liquid gold.” Colostrum is full of antibodies and important nutrients that protect babies from illness. It is also much easier to digest. Another great thing about breast milk is that it changes as a baby grows to meet his needs. Breastfeeding has also been linked to a higher IQ and a lower rate of SIDS. And, let’s not forget, it is free!
Breastfeeding is also beneficial to the mother. Mothers who breastfeed are at lower risk for Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, and Postpartum depression. Breastfeeding also aides in post-partum weight loss. Most importantly, nursing an infant releases Oxytocin (the bonding chemical) into the mother’s bloodstream.
And that’s not all. According to Women’sHealth.Gov, “Recent research shows that if 90 percent of families breastfed exclusively for 6 months, nearly 1,000 deaths among infants could be prevented. The United States would also save $13 billion per year — medical care costs are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed infants. Breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.”
But, I am not going to lie and say breastfeeding is always easy. You cannot poke your husband at 2 AM to feed the baby. You have to do it. And, it can be physically uncomfortable if you get a breast infection or thrush. It also takes a lot out of you. You have to eat right and get enough sleep, or you will be exhausted. But for our family, it was the right choice.
I would encourage every mother to at least try breastfeeding once. The first time I breastfed, I was not so sure that it was what I wanted to do, but I knew it was so much better for my baby, so I gave it a try. I am glad I did. Within in the first minute, I knew it was the right choice for me. It is almost unexplainable, but breastfeeding literally puts you in a state of relaxation and euphoria. This is because it triggers a release of Oxytocin in your blood stream, which as I said, is the bonding chemical. It creates such an intimate relationship between mother and child, and breastfeeding actually ended up being one of the things I enjoyed most because of that.
But breastfeeding isn’t an all or nothing thing. Every bit helps. If you can only be home for the first six weeks, try breastfeeding only for those six weeks. Or, if you just want to breastfeed at night when you are home, then just breastfeed at night. Your milk supply will adjust. You can also pump your breast milk if you have to be away from your baby or if you want to let someone else have a chance to feed your little one.
But, even with all of this said, it does not mean breastfeeding is the best choice for every single family. If it puts too much stress on you and takes away from the joy of raising your child, then it might not be the right choice for you. Some moms need to be on medications that interfere with breastfeeding. Many moms also claim that they cannot breastfeed because they do not make enough milk, which occasionally happens, but is extremely, extremely rare. Mothers often think this because of common misconception and a lack of public education on and support for breastfeeding.
And, keep in mind that infant formula is getting better and better. There are now organic formulas, formulas with DHA, formulas for sensitive stomachs, and formulas for food allergies. Infant formula is easier to digest and more packed with nutrients than ever. Many women love the freedom and flexibility that comes with formula feeding, and husbands and siblings are happy to be involved in feeding.
Most importantly, any mother can feed with love. It is absurd to say that bottle-fed babies don’t bond with their mothers as strongly as babies who are breastfed. Bonding and feeding with love is not necessarily about what you feed your child, but how you feed your child. Here are a few tips how:
Tips for Feeding with Love:
• Whether feeding from the breast or feeding from a bottle, snuggle the little one close. Skin-to-skin contact is always best.
• Talk to your baby as you feed her.
• Gaze into the eyes of your child as you bottle feed.
• Feed on-demand, night and day (when possible), rather than a schedule. *Note: In some cases it is important to wake up young infants for feedings. Talk to your pediatrician. This will teach your baby about trust and strengthen your bond.
• Never force a baby to eat just because it is the most convenient time. Respect little tummies that want to eat smaller meals more frequently.
• Most importantly, focus on the baby as you feed. Make it a quiet time for the two of you to connect.
Each family is different. It is important for moms to make the best decision for her family and walk confidently in it. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like less of a mom not matter what you choose!