“How many times should I breastfeed my new born?”
“Is breastfeeding enough for my baby? “”Would he/she remain hungry?”
“Could I give formula feeds and switch to breastfeeding frequently?”
“Are formula fed babies healthier?”
You must have heard a lot of new moms ask these questions to one another and whether breast feeding or formula feeding suits their babies. For new mothers like you, it often becomes a challenge to identify your new born needs without some practical advice.
Why should you breastfeed your baby?
Breastfeeding is undoubtedly one of the best, the safest and the cheapest ways of feeding your baby during the early months of development. Breast milk contains all the essential nutrients required for baby’s growth and development. Mother’s milk is a good source of active infection-fighting WBC (white blood cells) and naturally produced chemicals that jealously protect the baby from allergic conditions during the early months.
According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, breastfed babies are less likely to develop SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).Breast milk is a rich source of fatty acids that aids in baby’s brain development. It protects the baby from developing Obesity, some forms of Cancer, Diabetes, Asthma and allergic conditions in his/her later life.
Breastfeeding thus helps develop a psychological bonding between the mother and the baby each time he/she is breastfed.
Moreover, breast milk is freely available anytime of the day. The practice of breastfeeding helps the new mother to shed her excess weight and to recover from post natal bleeding quickly.
Some points to be bore in mind while breastfeeding:
New mothers need to have that extra energy and patience all through the day to maintain several bouts of breastfeeding sessions. Since breast milk gets digested easily, babies need to be fed at short intervals and whenever they feel sudden pangs of hunger.
A new mother is always not at liberty to go for errands/long hours of travel away from her new born as she has to meet her baby’s feeding demands. Sometimes both the mother and the baby might have their hours of sleep interrupted at night as the mother has to wake up at intervals to feed their baby.
Mothers of new born babies are advised to avoid alcohol and caffeine in their diet. They need to be cautious while taking several medications as, whatever food and medicines they take in are passed through their breast milk to their babies.
The pros of breastfeeding definitely outweigh the cons and therefore, for normal growth and development of your new born, exclusive breastfeeding is desirable till the sixth month of a baby’s development.
What is formula feeding?
When breast milk is substituted with prepared formula for infants, it becomes formula feeding. Formula feeding during early months of baby’s development is started as a matter of convenience for working mothers or in some cases due to lack of enough breast milk production by the mother. Infant feeds are rich sources of ingredients just as in breast milk nowadays. Therefore a new mother can feel relaxed about the infant feed content and can very well introduce the same from the early months of baby’s development if she can afford the cost.
Tips on selection and usage of infant formula feeds:
i) Please go through the nutrition label given on the pack to find out whether the infant formula you have chosen to buy, contains iron. If not, go for an iron-fortified formula to feed your new born with. The lack of iron in the diet of infants, during the early few months is linked to their brain development.
ii) Unlike the cost factor, the consistency of the infant formula---whether in powder form, ready-to-feed form or a concentrate form has no significant difference in nutritional content. Choose wisely.
iii) Choose formula feeds that are easily digestible by the baby. For example, go for milk based formula instead of soy-based formula feeds during the initial months.
iv)Unlike breast milk, formula feeds need to be given in sterilized bottles with a clean nipple attached to the bottle in order to prevent contamination and spreading infection to the baby. The bottle should be sterilized post usage as well.
v) The formula feed containers need to be closed tightly as soon as the required amount of powder is extracted from it and should be stored as advised on the container label.
vi) The leftover of a prepared formula feed should not be kept in the bottle beyond two hours after the baby’s intake, to feed him/her later. It gets contaminated at room temperature quickly.
Formula Feeding: Pros and Cons
Milk based formula feeds are usually Vitamin K fortified and therefore their intake could prevent a condition known as Haemorrhagic Disease of the New born (HDN).Vitamin K has a role in preventing formation of blood clots.
As a new mother, you are free to take a break when required as formula feeding can be done by any of your family members. Both the mother and the baby can enjoy a good night’s sleep since formula feeds take more time to digest and the baby feels less hungry for long after a feed.
As new moms, many feel embarrassed to breastfeed their babies in public. You may possibly be spared such an embarrassing situation while giving formula feeds to your new born. Unlike in breastfeeding, a mother can easily keep a check on the quantity of milk her baby consumes each time. Neither does she have to become too conscious about her diet and medications.
The major cons of formula feeding, however are:
a. Cost factor
b. Preparation, storage and usage under sterilized conditions
c. Ease of availability based on baby’s requirements
d. Formula feeds do not contain antibodies that protect the baby against infections.
e. The formula fed babies might get colic attacks and gas pains due to the delayed digestion of certain formula feeds.
Each mother is unique. Whether you breast feed/provide formula feeds or believe in providing a mix of both to your child, always be happy and feel better with what you opt to do!
Guest Contributing Author