How to decide the best feeding method for you and your baby
“You should breastfeed, no matter what.”
Well, of course you “should” breastfeed. For one thing, think of the bottles you won’t have to wash! Seriously, we’ve all heard the reasons why breast is best for the baby. What we don’t often hear is that nursing, for some women, is not a preferable option. For some, latch-on is excruciating. Others develop breast inflammation. And still others may not have a job that allows for multiple pumping breaks. When it comes to nourishing your newborn, do with pride what works for you, and be thankful you have options.
Mistake: Changing baby’s formula to stop a spitup problem
Frequent formula changes can make it harder for your pediatrician to pinpoint the true culprit, whether it’s a milk allergy, acid reflux, or something else.
Smart solution: Work with your baby’s doctor to find the cause of the problem, especially if he’s not gaining weight (or losing it) or if you see blood in his stool (possibly an allergy to milk-based formula). For reflux, experiment with different types of nipples to eliminate air bubbles, keep baby upright for a half hour after feeding, and offer frequent smaller meals instead of fewer larger ones. If your baby’s a spitup artist, consider ditching that tummy-jostling swing or bouncy seat.
Benefits: Supplementing breastfeeding with bottles can be the best of both worlds: your baby gets the nutritional benefits of breast milk while you get some flexibility and a chance to rest. Adding formula bottles to a nursing routine can be ideal for working moms — no pump or on-the-job breaks needed. It’s also a relief for those with low milk supply or latch-on difficulties, or who find nursing exhausting or frustrating.
Drawbacks: Fully breastfed babies are the most protected from illness. And some babies may refuse to switch between breast and bottle. Others may prefer the faster flow of a bottle and nurse less frequently, so your milk production will decrease. Hold off on combo-feeding for the first few weeks so you can build up your milk supply. To avoid clogged ducts as you add bottles, wait four to seven days before dropping a nursing session.
Moms open up about their feeding choices:
“I breastfed my baby because it was the easiest method for me. When my son woke up at night, the milk was set to go — it was already mixed and warmed.”
— Misty, Lyons, OR
“I was getting terrible migraine headaches, so in order to take prescription medications, I put my daughter on formula. I think that the bottle-feeding has helped her and my husband develop a strong bond.”
— Kara, Fairfax, VA
“My son was in the NICU for a week, so I wasn’t able to be there all the time or pump enough milk. At home I nursed most of the time, but since my milk production was still low, I supplemented with bottles of formula.”
— Jamie, Gaithersburg, MD
The Breastfeeding Mom’s Bill of Rights
1. If you have a right to be somewhere with your baby, you have a right to breastfeed there. Women can legally breastfeed in most public places — stores, restaurants, parks, and malls. For more info on breastfeeding legislation in your state, visit lalecheleague.org.
2. You have a right to ask for pumping accommodations at work. Most states require that workers be given a space to pump that isn’t a bathroom stall. Ask for a room with a lockable door, a place to sit, and an electrical outlet.
3. You have a right to breastfeed for as long as you see fit. While many Americans view nursing into toddlerhood as odd or perverse, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends nursing “for as long as mutually desired.”
The Bottle-Feeding Mom’s Bill of Rights
1. You have a right to bottle-feed without guilt or lengthy excuses. Whether it’s health-related, because of painful side effects, or for another reason entirely, don’t feel you have to explain yourself to avoid being publicly ostracized.
2. You have a right to supplement nursing with formula or breast milk. Don’t feel like you have to choose one method or another; many women prefer a combination of breast and bottle.
3. You have a right to bottle-feed without trying to breastfeed first. While breastfeeding may be ideal, there’s nothing wrong with using formula. What’s most important to your baby’s development is love, affection, and a close emotional bond.