Choosing Between Breast or Bottle-Feeding
Being a new parent is an exciting time full of many new experiences. One of the biggest decisions you will make before your baby is born is whether you plan on breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or using a combination of the two. Whatever your decision, remember the best way to feed your child will depend on you and your baby’s health.
Nursing Your Baby
There are numerous ways to keep your baby nourished. You may choose to breastfeed, bottle-feed, or use both methods for many reasons. Each parent’s preference depends on their lifestyle and what makes the most sense for you! Some women begin by breastfeeding, but switch to pumping as your child grows or if your schedule changes. Others may choose to begin with pumping and slowly ease into breastfeeding.
The specific benefits of bottle-feeding vs. breastfeeding will also depend on your baby. If your infant has difficulty latching, or you want to know exactly how much your baby drinks during each feeding, you may wish to bottle-feed. Bottle-feeding your breast milk is also an option for premature babies, as it may take some time before they can breastfeed fully.
Regardless of which feeding method you choose, be sure you eat well, drink fluids, and rest when you can. Do not be afraid to ask for help, especially from your partner, family members or friends. A strong support system can make a huge difference when caring for your child.
Benefits of Breastfeeding Your Baby
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful gift for a parent and child. Many parents enjoy breastfeeding as it provides a sense of fulfillment and joy from the physical and emotional connection they form with their children. When you breastfeed, you and your infant will enjoy numerous benefits.
Benefits for Your Baby
- Ideal nutrition: Breast milk contains everything your infant needs during their first six months. The composition of breast milk also changes as your baby grows. It starts as colostrum, which is a thick, yellow fluid, before transitioning to a more traditional milk appearance.
- Necessary antibodies: Unlike formula, breast milk can help protect your baby against many diseases due to the high amount of antibodies. Each time you encounter viruses or bacteria, your body produces antibodies that go into your milk and help build your baby’s immune system.
- Reduced risk of disease: Breastmilk contains many nutrients and reduces your baby’s risk of developing many diseases such as infections, childhood leukemia and diabetes.
- Promote a healthy weight: Breastfeeding helps promote a healthy weight gain and prevent childhood obesity due to the development of higher amounts of gut bacteria, which can affect fat storage. Breastfed babies are also better at self-regulating how much milk they ingest, which aids in developing healthy eating patterns.
- Encourages healthy brain development: Many breastfed babies experience healthier brain development due to the physical intimacy, eye contact, touch, and nutrients received during a breastfeeding session.
Benefits for You
- Assists in losing weight: When you breastfeed, you burn calories which can help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy.
- Helps the uterus contract: While you are pregnant, your uterus expands from the size of a pear to the size of your abdomen. After delivering your baby, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin which helps the uterus return to its normal size. Breastfeeding also releases oxytocin, which can cause your uterus to return to its normal size faster.
- Lowers the risk of disease: Breastfeeding can provide long-lasting protection against ovarian and breast cancer and reduce your risk for high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
- Saves time and money: By breastfeeding, you do not have to buy formula, take the time to warm up feeding formula, or pack a lot of equipment each time you leave the house.
- Prevents menstruation: Continual breastfeeding pauses ovulation and menstruation, which gives you one less thing to worry about and allows your body enough time to heal between pregnancies.
Tips on Breastfeeding
While nursing may be a natural process, it can also be challenging for some parents. As many as 84% of infants breastfeed after birth, but only 58% are still breastfeeding at 6 months old. Breastfeeding offers many benefits, and if you decide to try it with your baby, here are some tips you can follow for a greater chance of success:
- Line up help before your baby arrives: Consider meeting with a nursing expert such as a lactation consultant before having your child. During your meeting, your lactation expert can share some feeding tips, and you’ll know who to call if a problem occurs.
- Create a breastfeeding space: Before your baby arrives, create a nursing station with a comfortable chair, breastfeeding pillow and a table for snacks, water, burp cloths, and entertainment items.
- Nurse within the first hour of delivery: If you wait too long to nurse after birth, it may be hard to wake up your baby. While you may only produce a tiny amount of milk, a newborn’s stomach is the size of a marble, and a few drops will be more than enough.
- Focus on the feet: Many babies seem to nurse better if their feet touch your arm or a pillow. By touching your child’s feet during feeding, you will also help them feel more secure.
- Position yourself for a deeper latch: Place your baby so your stomachs touch and your child doesn’t have to turn their head to latch. Point your nipple at your baby’s nose so they will lift their head and latch on deeply.
- Don’t push down on your infant’s head: Pushing down can trigger your baby’s instinct to bite down. Instead, place your hand on the nape of your child’s neck and bring them to your breast.
- Pay attention to your diet: You’ll need about 300 more calories per day when breastfeeding. If you exercise or have multiple children, you will need to consume even more calories. Eating three well-balanced meals plus snacks should be enough to ensure you receive enough calories and nutrients.
- Offer a bottle between 4 and 6 weeks old: If you decide to bottle-feed your breast milk, offer the first bottle before your baby is 8 weeks old to lower the risk of bottle refusal. Have someone else give the first bottle and then leave the room so you are not tempted to help.
- Know how much milk your baby needs: Unlike formula-fed babies, breastfed babies need the same amount of milk at 6 months old as they did at 1 month old. By about 1 month old, your child will know how much breast milk they need, and you do not need to increase how much they need to eat as long as you maintain your current supply.
Benefits of Bottle-Feeding Your Baby
How you decide to feed your child is a personal choice. Whether you choose to breast or bottle-feed, feeding time is an opportunity for parent and baby to create a closer bond. When selecting a feeding method, consider what is best for your infant and you. Many parents choose to feed their baby breast milk through a bottle. Some of the many benefits of bottle-feeding your infant breast milk include:
- Anyone can feed your baby: When you bottle-feed, parents, siblings, or other family members can feed your child, allowing everyone to spend some bonding time with your newborn. Sharing bottle-feedings also gives the lactating parent time to rest during the immediate postpartum period.
- You can feed your baby in public: Many parents are not comfortable breastfeeding their children in public settings. By bottle-feeding, you can feed your baby anywhere at any time.
- Easier to keep track of intake: Bottle-feeding allows you to easily see how much your baby has eaten and how much they have left.
- Increase your supply: If your breast milk supply is low, you can pump after each breastfeeding session to increase your supply. Pumping your breastmilk for bottle-feeding also allows you to build up a stash to put in your freezer if you have worries about a low supply.
- Greater control over feeding times: When you pump your breastmilk, you have greater control over when and where you feed your child. Bottle-feeding your baby allows you to create a pumping schedule that works best for you and potentially frees up more time to care for your infant.
- More breaks: When you pump and store your breastmilk, you can go out for a few hours to complete tasks such as grocery shopping or go on a date while leaving behind enough food for your babysitter to feed your child.
- Donor milk: If you cannot produce breast milk yourself, you may receive breastmilk from donors. Bottle-feeding donor breast milk can be an excellent option for adopted babies or if you cannot create enough breastmilk on your own.
Tips on Pumping and Bottle-Feeding
How early you begin pumping and bottle-feeding your child will vary depending on why you want to try mixed feeding. Many experts recommend waiting until your infant is 6 to 8 weeks old. However, you may start earlier if you or your baby are having difficulty breastfeeding or you are not producing enough breastmilk. You may also wish to begin pumping and bottle-feeding if you want to share feeding times with your partner or introduce a bottle before returning to work.
Once you decide to start bottle-feeding, it’s best to begin gradually and focus on one feeding session at a time. Some additional tips for pumping and bottle-feeding include:
- Pump after breastfeeding: By waiting to pump until after you breastfeed, your baby will have their fill, and you can fully empty your breasts. Pumping after breastfeeding also provides the maximum time for your breasts to refill with milk before your child’s next feeding.
- Use your hands: Employing hands-on pumping and hand expression can help increase the amount of milk you get out of your breasts. Performing hands-on pumping can also help increase the amount of milk your breasts create in the future.
- Invest in storage: It is a good idea to invest in a milk storage container to collect any milk leaking from your breast that your baby is not currently drinking to ensure you do not lose any milk before you begin pumping.
- Ensure your pump fits: Before pumping, double-check the flanges to ensure they fit correctly. Finding a pump that fits correctly can help prevent damage to your nipples and discomfort while you pump.
- Keep accessories on hand: Keeping a few baskets of accessories and other items around your house near your favorite pumping locations may be a good idea. These baskets can contain water, snacks, and diapers so you do not have to get up and look for these items once you begin pumping.
- Warm up: If you have trouble pumping, try placing something warm on your chest and looking at videos of your little one.
- Choose the right bottle: With so many options, it can be difficult to know what bottles to use for breast milk. The best bottle for supplementing breastfeeding has a gradual slope, is not extremely wide and has a slow flow. The slope and narrow base make it easy for your baby to get as much of the nipple in their mouths as possible to mimic breastfeeding.
When bottle-feeding, it’s best to use paced bottle-feeding, which mimics traditional breastfeeding. During paced bottle-feeding, hold your baby upright and keep the bottle at a horizontal position instead of angling it downward. By holding the bottle horizontally, your child has to suck, similarly to breastfeeding, to get the milk out of the bottle.
Paced feeding also allows your infant to take plenty of breaks, resembling a breastfeeding session. A typical paced feeding session may take as long as 20 minutes and ends when your child satisfies their hunger.
Keep Your Baby Happy and Healthy With Americord® Blood Banking
As you decide between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, your baby’s health is always at the forefront of your mind. One of the best ways to invest in your infant’s health from day one is to participate in stem cell storage.
Stem cell storage from Americord® is a safe and painless procedure that involves collecting and storing the blood in your child’s umbilical cord after birth. The blood in your baby’s umbilical cord contains many hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that can become any type of blood cell or blood component in the human body. These versatile cells are standard in bone marrow transplants and have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat more than 80 severe medical conditions.
Americord® is a pioneer in cord tissue and placenta tissue banking, and we offer numerous options to best fit your family’s needs. Banking your baby’s umbilical cord blood and placenta tissue is similar to an insurance policy and an investment in your child’s future. We hope your child will never need to access their stored stem cells, but if that need arises, you will have the peace of mind that you banked with Americord® for safekeeping. To learn more, contact us at (866-503-6005) today!
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