Choosing Breast or Bottle
Breast or Bottle
The great debate: Breast or bottle? The seemingly simple answer: Do what is right for you and your baby. But figuring out “what’s right” is easier said than done. On the one hand, breastfeeding may reduce your baby’s risk of diabetes and other illnesses. On the other hand, if your body cannot produce enough milk, bottlefeeding ensures a steady milk supply for your baby, which is crucial for proper growth. Keeping yourself informed of the pros and cons to both the breast and the bottle will help you decide which route best suits your lifestyle.
Benefits of Breast Milk
Breast milk benefits baby and mom for the bargain price of $0. For starters, it contains just the right amount of nutrients your baby needs to grow and is easy for babies to digest. Also, breastfeeding mothers burn more calories than non-breastfeeding mothers, which aids in weight loss. No wonder the American Academy of Pediatrics calls breast milk “uniquely superior for infant feeding.”
How to begin breastfeeding
Hormonal changes post delivery prompt your body to start generating milk. At first, when a baby nurses immediately after birth and for the first few days, it’s getting colostrum, a thick, yellowish fluid produced during pregnancy. Baby’s suckling will help to release the hormones prolactin and oxytocin, triggering your breast milk.
You may experience some cramping the first few times you breastfeed, as oxytocin also causes uterine contractions. As your milk comes in post delivery, your breasts may get swollen, hard, tender and fairly full. You should experience some relief from the pain within a day or two. Nursing is the best thing you can do to eliminate the pain and side effects. Frequent nursing can sometimes prevent swelling altogether.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find more on how to prepare for breastfeeding in our complete guide to breastfeeding.
The secret to successful nursing is getting a good latch. To do so, it helps to keep a few things in mind: Grab a pillow and get comfortable. Find the right position for you and your baby. (One that might work is the cradle hold.) Make sure your baby latches on with a wide-open mouth and bring your baby to the breast.
One thing you can check to see if it’s a good latch is to make sure your baby’s lips are turned out instead of tucked under.
While some experts advocate getting – and some parents choose to get – babies to eat on set schedules (the most frequently recommended guideline is every two-and-a-half to three hours) the American Academy of Pediatrics policy recommends feeding babies on demand “approximately 8-12 times every 24 hours” – effectively the same number of times a day, just not on a fixed schedule. According to the AAP, babies should determine their own feeding schedules because schedules “designed by parents may put babies at risk for poor weight gain and dehydration.”
Here are guidelines to help you figure out the best feeding schedule for you and your baby:
- Feeding frequency the first few days
- Milk production – supply and demand
- Signs that your baby is ready to nurse
- Duration of feedings
How long and often to breastfeed
The AAP recommends for you to feed your baby on demand “approximately 8-12 times every 24 hours.” Some babies may be hungrier than others, or their hunger patterns may change over time. This is all okay- the most important thing is that your baby grows and develops.
A couple of other things to assess when it comes to your breastfeeding schedule include the duration of feedings and your level of milk production. One tip: A crying baby is a very hungry baby, so try to feed your baby before he or she starts tearing up.
How to tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk
New moms often worry that they’re not producing enough milk. But if a baby seems hungry, the culprit is most often a difficulty with breastfeeding, such as latching on. If your baby seems to be eating fine and you just want to make sure they’re not overeating (or undereating), pay attention to the following:
Find more nursing tips and products for mom and baby!