Food for your Newborn: Breastfeeding, Pump or Formula?
These days, modern mothers are going back to breastfeeding because it has been shown to have the following benefits.
For the baby:
- Breastfeeding provides natural antibodies that build up your infant’s immune system and helps her to resist common newborn illnesses such as ear infections.
- Breast milk is also much easier for baby to digest in comparison to formula. Babies fed on breast milk suffer less from gastrointestinal troubles.
- Some research has shown that breastfeeding also lowers the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
- Breastfeeding also improves your baby’s cognitive functions.
- Its benefits run long beyond the period of breastfeeding helping to prevent risks of obesity, asthma, Type 1 and 2 diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia and lymphoma later in life.
For the mother:
- Breastfeeding allows for the infant to bond with the mother.
- Women who breastfeed are shown to have a reduced risk of certain types of cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes!
CONS: But for all its lauded benefits, breastfeeding is not always easy. Some infants have trouble latching onto the mother’s breasts, some mothers have low milk supply or may find breastfeeding painful. Moreover, it is time consuming. And you cannot always breastfeed in public. Although mothers activist groups have been fighting to make breastfeeding acceptable in public, some mothers and some members of the public still get self-conscious about the sight.
Length of time: Mothers are recommended to breastfeed an infant exclusively for the first 6 months and advised to continue for the rest of the first year of the infant’s life up to the end of her second year. The longer you breastfeed, the more long-lasting the benefits for the baby.
Pumping comes in to resolve certain difficulties in breastfeeding. It has the following benefits:
- Pumping allows the baby the best nourishment by taking in the mother’s milk but offers a more flexible schedule.
- Pumping allows other members of the family to share in the feeding responsibilities. For a mother who is going back to work, pumping can be a lifesaver.
- Pumping can take less time than breastfeeding.
- Pumping allows for easy monitoring because you are able to accurately record how much milk your baby is taking in daily.
CONS: However, while direct transfer of breast milk from mother to child is safe from contamination, pumped milk risks the process of contamination along the way, from pump to bottle to freezing to thawing. It also involves endless tasks of cleaning and maintaining the pump parts. And most importantly as a deterrent for some mothers, it allows for less contact time between mother and baby.
Know that you can always use a combination of breastfeeding and pumping! This mixed method allows for the best of both worlds and is increasingly favored by mothers today.
What about formula? Ah formula, so often scorned in favor of breastmilk and pumping these days.
Yet even formula has certain benefits:
- Formula has an adequate level of certain nutrients like Vitamin D, a vitamin that babies sometimes need to get in the form of supplements when being breastfed.
- Especially helpful for feeding premature babies with poor sucking reflex.
- Assuages the fear that your baby is not getting enough milk.
- A necessity for some mothers with health problems who may not be able to breastfeed her infant.
- Allows the mother’s diet to be more flexible making a glass of wine or certain food acceptable post-pregnancy.
Although breastfeeding continues to be the preferred method of nursing a newborn, know that baby formulas can be an incredibly adequate runner-up method should you not be able to breastfeed for some reason. Some mothers also choose a combination of breastfeeding and formula feeding. As with other aspects of pregnancy and post-pregnancy decisions, make the decision that makes sense for your health and your lifestyle and do not give in to the pressure to do what everyone else is doing! Get the information and then make the right decision; we know you will make sure that your infant will be well nourished, whatever method you choose!