Breast Feeding, Bottle Feeding, Formula Feeding: Which is the Right Choice for Me?

Photo Credit Disqus

I want to start off letting all the parents out there know that this article focuses on what is best for baby, and not what is necessarily the best choice overall. I am not bias one way or another. How you decide to feed your baby is a personal decision. It is the decision you make based upon what is right for you and your baby. Feeding your baby is more important than who is doing it the “right way” per other people’s perspectives. I hear so many moms shaming other moms because they don’t/didn’t breast feed. Did you know some moms can not breast feed? Some moms try to breast feed. They do everything they can to get their milk supply up. They don’t give up, but it just does not end up working out for them. Sometimes it doesn’t end up working out for baby either. There are so many factors in this.

My mother, with both her children, was able to breast feed. She would tell me she basically was a cow in the fact that she leaked milk constantly. She also has always been able to be at home doing something. She clearly is a great candidate for breast feeding her children. My sister and I did not have any issues latching on. We were fed a la breast.

Breast Feeding: Is This the Right Choice for Me?

Some of you may be reading this thinking “Of course this is the right choice. It’s the only choice.” Did you know this is not the only choice of feeding your baby? Breast feeding exclusively takes a lot of time and patience. It also takes dedication and willingness to offer your baby your breasts at every moment of the day. Every day. Working moms have a harder time with this. At-home-moms may have a hard time with this as well depending on their family’s needs, other children, etc.

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Just remember breast feeding is a personal decision. Do not let others sway you one way or the other. This decision is between you and your baby. Breast feeding has so many benefits for you and your baby.

 

 

Photo Credit Thayer Allyson Gowdy

*Breast Feeding: Benefits for Baby*

My personal reason for wanting to breast feed is that baby receives your antibodies from your breast milk. That is how baby stays healthy. If baby catches a virus that you already have had your body will have the antibodies for it and make it easier for baby to fight off the virus. Another great reason to breast feed is breast milk has the perfect amount of nutrients via what you put in your body. There’s fats, proteins, vitamins, etc. “Babies who are breast fed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.” (WebMD, 2005-2018).

mriPhoto Credit Telegraph Media Group Limited

The more interesting thing I have found though is that children who are breast fed seem to be smarter overall. They are more successful as adults and in their academics and careers. Some other great benefits I would like to highlight include the physical aspect of it for baby AND for mommy. The skin to skin/one on on for baby helps brain development. The touching stimulates the brain and helps it to grow. They have found babies who are interacted with have bigger brains and are smarter than babies who just lay in their cribs all day being ignored. Also, babies who are breast fed have a lower risk for SIDS.

*Breast Feeding: Benefits for Mommy*

breasfeeding-benefits

Photo Credit greatbabytips.com

Now let’s talk about how breast feeding can help you as a mother. I am pretty excited about this section. There are so many wonderful benefits. My personal favorites include helping your body heal after deliver, keeping weight off (and who doesn’t love that benefit), and being able to consume more calories. Some other great benefits are it helps you save money because you’re not buying formula, bottles, nipples, etc. It also help reduce your risk for ovarian cancer. You also have a less likelihood of developing osteoporosis. How fantastic are those benefits as well?

breastfeeding-benefits-and-awareness-4-638Photo Credit Anu Minivannan

Okay, now let me go more in depth with this. After you have your baby your uterus is still going to be stretched out and swollen. “It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth.” (WebMD, 2005-2018). When you are breast feeding you are also burning calories like crazy. That is why you are allowed to consume more calories, an extra 500 calories to be exact (Baby Center Medical Advisory Board, 2015). I don’t know about you, but when I’m not pregnant I count calories to stay in shape or lose weight, so if you are already in the calorie counting game this should be easy for you.

Bottle Feeding: Is This the Right Choice for Me?

Photo Credit Bundoo

bottle feeding baby

 

Bottle feeding can imply both formula and breast fed babies. If you choose to pump but use a bottle that is perfectly fine too. Just remember feeding your baby is more important than how you feed your baby.

bottle

Photo Credit Dr. Brian Palmer, DDS

Okay, let’s jump in to this. Make sure you do your research about nipples and bottles. I prefer the NUK brand. No, I am not getting any kind of benefits for saying that. I feel the nipples are more shaped like my nipple when it’s inside my baby’s mouth. They seem to be easier for babies to latch on to as well. Please be aware of nipple confusion though. You can learn more about it here. Nipple confusion is simply your baby has so many things to learn and latching on to a nipple should not be one of them. If you use more than one brand of nipples your baby will have a harder time latching and feeding. This can cause all sorts of problems as you can imagine.

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Photo Credit NUK

* Bottle Feeding: Benefits*

Benefits to bottle feeding include the fact that dad or brother/sister can feed the baby. Anyone can feed the baby. This is more ideal when baby starts going to daycare, or if you’re lucky enough to be able to get a nanny. I recommend if you are going to bottle feed that you also need to do skin to skin like you would with your breast. Still take your shirt off and have skin to skin time with baby, but use your bottle instead of your breast if you are not able to breast feed. You don’t have to worry about what you put in your body if you are using formula in the bottle. You also don’t have to worry about having to offer your breast at every moment of every day whenever baby is hungry. Bottle feeding is also easier for baby to learn.

*Bottle Feeding: Disadvantages*

There are plenty of disadvantages to bottle feeding. When you are trying to monitor nutrient intake it is hard to make sure your baby is getting everything they need. Of course this applies to formula feeding. When you know what you consume and you offer breast milk in a bottle then you know exactly what nutrients they are receiving. It costs money to keep bottles and nipples for baby. Nipples have different flow rates. When baby gets older they will want a higher flow rate because they will be able to take in more at a time. If you use formula that costs money as well. I remember how expensive that was when my daughter was a baby. I felt like we were buying formula weekly at $25/container. Ouch! Warming up a bottle takes time to do. My nephew does not like to wait for his bottle. He gets very impatient, and your baby might too. When you go out in public you have to make sure you have bottles on you. If you formula feed as well you have to make sure you have formula with you on top of that.

There are so many factors with bottle feeding to consider. Again, this is a personal choice and you as the mother should be the only one making this choice for you and your baby.

Formula Feeding: Is This the Right Choice for Me?

Formula feeding has some great advantages and some great disadvantages; just like the bottle feeding option. It also is a great alternative when you are not able to breast feed, or you are having an emotional time with breast feeding. When it’s time to move on and give up breast feeding you will know. Being stressed out over it is not worth it. Trust me, I’ve been there. Your emotional/mental state of mind is more important than being depressed while trying to take care of a baby.

*Formula Feeding: Advantages for Mom and Baby*

When you formula feed it is so much easier to monitor ounces that baby took in. When your baby is not getting enough breast milk then formula feeding is great for supplemental. It is more important for baby to be fed, than how they are fed. I know so many lactation nurses who push for breast feeding. That is great. The only issue is that they tend to forget that feeding baby is more important than making you feel like crap because you are not able to feed your baby via breast.

My sister recently had a baby and had a lactation nurse tell her that she should not even be offering her son formula (even though he was losing weight from not being able to get enough breast milk) because that was a bad choice. She felt like a horrible mother for even considering supplementing with formula. When she took her son to the pediatrician he reassured her that feeding is the only option. There are no “better choices” when it comes to your baby’s health. She is now formula feeding only. My nephew started gaining weight, and is now a healthy, solid cutie pie.

I also want to let everyone know to compare formulas when buying formula. Not all brands and categories are the same when it comes to formula. My daughter did better with Enfamil than with Similac. This time around with baby #2 we are going to give Similac another shot. Look at all the nutritional facts on the back of the containers. How do they compare? Does your baby have special dietary needs? Mine does. Do you need something more cost effective so you are looking at the store brand formula? How does that store brand compare with other brands?

Some other things to consider when choosing formula include you can take medications without having to worry about passing that to the baby. You can also drink alcohol, a cup of coffee, etc without having to worry.

Feeding You Baby is a Personal Decision:

Just remember feeding your baby is a personal decision. It is your decision. It is not your mother’s decision, your mother-in-law’s decision, or even  your husband’s decision. It is a decision for you and your baby to decide upon. Do not feel shameful if you are not able to produce enough milk to feed your baby. It is okay to use formula to supplement, or feed exclusively. If you are able to breastfeed exclusively that is amazing too.

I would love to hear your personal stories. Please comment below.

 

 Resources:

WebMD. (2005-2018). Breastfeeding Overview. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/nursing-basics#1

Women’sHealth.gov. (2018). Making the Decision to Breastfeed. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/making-decision-breastfeed

Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. (2015). Diet for a Healthy Breastfeedng Mom. Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/0_diet-for-a-healthy-breastfeeding-mom_3565.bc

Murkoff, H. (2014). Nipple Confusion. Retrieved from https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/ask-heidi/nipple-confusion.aspx

 

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10 Breastfeeding Tips and Tricks

Photo Credit Melissa Willets, Parents.com. (2018)

Let’s talk about breastfeeding. Sometimes it comes natural to moms. Others have to work at it to keep their supply up. Others are not able to breastfeed at all. I just want to say this article is not bias one way or the other. What matters most is feeding your child. I don’t care if you breastfeed, bottle feed, or formula feed. Please just feed your child.

I also want to let my readers know we are about to get up close and personal about breastfeeding.

Okay, let’s dive right in.

1) Let’s Start With Nipple Care

applying nipple cream
Photo Credit babyclub, tesco-baby.com. (Unknown)

Make sure you find a good cream to apply before AND after breastfeeding. They make some that are okay for baby to ingest while breastfeeding. I wrote a great article on “10 things to bring to the hospital with you when you deliver”. In it there is a section on nipple cream and how to choose the right one. You can read about it here. So I am not going to go in depth about it. It is a good read though for those of you who are wondering what to bring, or the moms who haven’t had a baby in a while and need a refresher (myself included).

I use only creams that I can understand everything I read on the back (the ingredients). Make sure you invest in one that is safe for baby to ingest as well. Applying that cream before and after breastfeeding is important.

If you don’t invest in a good cream you will be faced with dry, cracked nipples. This forces you to heal your nipples and not be able to feed your baby while you wait for it to heal. Also, if one is cracked and “out of commission” then you are forced to use your other breast more often you will naturally produce more milk on the side you use more often. Your milk supply may go down in the other breast that is “out of commission” for the time being. That would not be a great start to breastfeeding baby.

2) Try a Nursing Pillow

boppy pillow
Photo Credit TeraPeak.com, terapeak.com. (2018)

We’ve all heard of those darn Boppy Pillows. I actually LOVE these! Albeit they’re expensive, they’re worth every penny. I like the ones where you can actually Velcro your baby in to it. It worked great for when my daughter was a baby and had a cold or something that was making her cough. She was able to sleep propped up. That helped with breathing and coughing. In the picture to the right of this section it shows the different ways you can use the Boppy with the Velcro. Again, I highly recommend getting one with the Velcro.

Okay, back to breastfeeding: having a great support pillow, or nursing pillow, for you and your baby is a major advantage. It keeps your baby comfortable and at a good height for breastfeeding. It also is great for baby’s positioning with breastfeeding. They’re able to lay down at a more horizontal angle than being propped up in an awkward position while still trying to learn to latch on to you. It makes your job and baby’s job easier, and who doesn’t want that?

3) Find the Right Feeding Position for You and Baby

Let’s talk about feeding positions. There are several to choose from. They all depend on what works best for baby though. They can also get a little confusing at time. Just be patient while learning. You and baby are in this together. There’s the cradle hold, the cross-over hold, the clutch or football hold, or the reclining position. There is a fantastic article here that I highly recommend. It goes more in depth about the different positions and what they are best for. Read it!

breastfeeding positions
Photo Credit Sakra World Hospital, sakraworldhospital.com. (2018)

My personal favorites were the side-lying and the cradle positions. I am a bigger chested woman, so those positions were great for both me and baby. My daughter was able to latch on and I didn’t have to worry about suffocation. I was so worried my breast size would smother her while she was feeding. These positions made breastfeeding easier on both of us.

4) Be Patient While You Wait for Your Milk to Come in

woman looking at watch
Photo Credit Vector Toons, vectortoons.com. (2018)

I’m sure if you’ve read my other articles then you know I’ve touched on this subject. Do not expect your milk to come in as soon as you deliver. Sometimes this happens for moms, and sometimes it takes a couple days. Just because it doesn’t come in right away doesn’t mean you will have issues later on. Just be patient.

Mine came in AFTER we had left the hospital (4 days later). I remember laying in bed at home and I could feel my breasts start filling up with my milk supply. They started hurting and I felt immediately engorged. That is when you need to feed. If you get too engorged it is harder to feed.

Be patient while your milk comes in. The more you feed the more your supply will increase and naturally try to keep up supply with the demand for feedings. Supply and demand at it’s finest!

 

5) Get Help From a Lactation Specialist

lactation specialist
Photo Credit Higher Education Articles, educationcareerarticles.com. (2013)

There is nothing wrong with getting help to help feed your child. Most hospitals have a lactation specialist on the maternity floor to help moms with breastfeeding. Take full advantage of that.

They will guide you with the best way to position baby for feedings, and talk to you about the different feeding positions. They’ll even help you position your baby properly. If baby is having a hard time latching on they can usually pin point if there’s an issue with baby’s mouth, nipple shape, etc.

I can not stress enough how much I support seeing a lactation specialist.

6) Try a Nipple Shield

nipple shield
Photo Credit Nuk, nuk-usa.com. (2018)

Some babies and moms do better with a nipple shield. A nipple shield can make it easier for baby to latch on to your breast. My daughter had to use a nipple shield. I know several other people who breastfed that had to use a nipple shield for breastfeeding. It just makes it a little easier for everyone involved (this is never a bad thing).

If I haven’t said it already I am picky and very brand loyal. I actually have talked about this several times in my other articles. For a nipple shield I use the NUK brand. You can find it here.

7) How do I Know My Baby is Latched on?

Correct breastfeeding position
Photo Credit Insured Ameda Direct, insured.amedadirect.com. (2018)

One of the biggest questions (other than the one I will address in #8) is “How do I know that my baby is latched on properly to my breast?” I’m glad you asked!

If you look at the picture to the right of this section there is a check mark and an X. Baby’s mouth should be a wide angle and your nipple should be covered with baby’s mouth. There is a great article here you can read about that focuses on the proper latch. I highly recommend it!

You’ll also know baby has a good latch because you’ll see baby swallowing up the milk from breastfeeding.

8) How do I Know My Baby is Getting Enough Milk?

I think this is also one of the most asked questions I hear. I am so glad moms want to know though. You will know that baby is getting enough milk by how they act when they go off of the breast. They will feel satisfied and relaxed. Your breast will also feel softer from them depleting your milk supply. Your baby will also continue to gain weight. When I worked pediatrics we could tell the babies that were not getting enough milk because they would weigh significantly less than a week before. There’s always a solution if this happens though. Don’t stress about it. Your baby will urinate frequently and stool frequently. Their urine should be normal. There should be no concentrated smells or colors (from dehydration). Their stools should also be soft. Hard, dark stools could mean baby is not getting enough breast milk from feedings.

9) What Should I Put in My Diet While Breastfeeding? Is There a way to Increase Milk Supply Naturally?

breastmilk nutrients
Photo Credit Simply Remedies, simplyremedies.com. (2018)

Breast milk is much better for baby than any other milk. If you plan to breastfeed you need to keep taking your prenatal vitamins to ensure baby is getting all of those vitamins/nutrients as well.

I just want to point out that if your baby has a food allergy make sure you take that in to consideration when planning your diet. If baby can’t have lactose that means you can’t have lactose either. If baby can’t have peanuts, you can’t have peanuts either.

Make sure you eat a lot of proteins. Baby needs proteins to grow and develop. Make sure you incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables as well. Your diet should be a wide array of different foods. That is the only real way to make sure baby is getting enough nutrients.

Try to avoid things like processed foods, mercury exposed foods such as fish, and things high in fat. Basically, whatever you know isn’t healthy to eat, don’t eat it (Murkoff, H., 2014).

fenugreekHow Do I Increase My Milk Supply Naturally?

I know a lot of you might be wondering “How do I naturally increase my milk supply?” There is an over the counter supplement you can take called Fenugreek that you can take to help increase your milk supply naturally. Honestly, beyond that there really isn’t anything else you can do except keep on the pumping and nursing. There are things that are “hear say” that people recommend “because it worked for me!” Don’t buy in to that. Working pediatrics for a while we never encouraged moms to do anything else except take a supplement and increase nursing/pumping.

 

10) Practice Makes Perfect

Be patient. Practice makes perfect. You and baby will figure it out. You and baby will find a schedule and a routine that works best for you and baby. You guys will get in to a groove of what to do. Keep on the feedings and pumping every 2-3 hours and your body will learn to keep up.

I hope this article helps a lot of you moms out there. What is your breastfeeding story? Any tips and tricks you would like to share as well?

 

Resources:

Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. (2015). Positions and Tips for Making Breastfeeding Work. Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/0_positions-and-tips-for-making-breastfeeding-work_8784.bc

American Pregnancy Associations. (2018). Breastfeeding Latch. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/breastfeeding/latch/

Kimberly Tchang. (2018). Is My Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk? Retrieved from https://www.fitpregnancy.com/baby/breastfeeding/my-baby-getting-enough-breast-milk

Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. (2017). How to Tell Whether Your Baby’s Getting Enough Breast Milk. Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-tell-whether-your-babys-getting-enough-breast-milk_617.bc

Heidi Murkoff, What to Expect. (2014) The Breastfeeding Diet. Retrieved from https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-diet.aspx