Breastfeeding, Bottle Feeding and Pumping
You may have thought the nosy questions would end once you had your baby (“were you trying or was it an accident?” “do you want a boy or girl?”), but, unfortunately, there are many more to come. Many people will ask you if you’re breastfeeding and how it’s going while gazing toward your chest. The breastfeeding versus formula feeding battle is alive and well. And while you may be uncomfortable discussing your breasts in frank detail, it’s helpful to remind yourself that most people mean well. Deciding whether to breastfeed or bottle feed? Whether to breastfeed or pump? Or maybe a combination of all three? Following are several things to keep in mind. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months and encourages it up to one year or longer, if agreeable for both mom and baby. The slogan “breast is best” hails from the fact that breast milk can help protect against infections, allergies and SIDS , is easier to digest than formula, can increase cognitive function, and offers benefits for moms, including reduced risk of breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Notably, breastfeeding is also free.
Not every woman is able to – or chooses to – breastfeed. Women who have had breast reduction surgery often struggle with nursing while other women prefer the convenience and flexibility of formula, the ability to eat/drink what they want without worrying how it will impact their baby and the fact that partners can help out with feedings. Bottle feeding with formula can still provide moments of bonding. There are a variety of formulas on the market, including gentle options, soy-based options and more; the key is to select an iron-fortified formula which supports brain development. Pumping is another option to consider. While this is a bigger issue among working women who need to pump to keep up their supply and provide milk for the baby at daycare, some women prefer pumping to breastfeeding since it again offers more flexibility – dad can also give the baby a bottle, for instance. If you are returning to work, it is important to establish a regular schedule for pumping – anywhere from one to three times per day as a rule. While you may receive many inquiries about this heated topic, ultimately, the decision to breastfeed, bottle feed, pump or combine various methods is up to you. Make the choice that supports your needs, your schedule and your priorities and give yourself credit for doing the best you can for yourself and your baby.