Breast or Bottle? It’s your choice.
One of the most controversial topics that new mums face is whether to breastfeed, mix feed or formula feed their bub. And while Facebook groups, forums and mothers’ groups may debate over which method is best, here at Something for Mumma we understand that sometimes exclusive breastfeeding just isn’t an option.
Whether it’s low milk supply, latching issues, medical reasons, lifestyle issues or hectic work schedules, some mothers will need to look at other options. When it comes to feeding your newborn, there are four main choices.
Exclusive breast feeder
Breastfeeding can some easily to some women and for others it can be a little harder than expected. Afterall, it’s an entirely new (albeit natural) skill that both mumma and bub need to learn together so it can take a few days or even weeks until you’re feeling confident with it. Most hospitals either have a lactation consultant on staff or can refer to you to one if you are having trouble, and there are teas, cookies and lactation massagers which can help as well.
The obvious benefits are that breast feeding is free and if you have enough milk supply and a little one that latches well, it’s a very convenient way to feed your bub.
For some women, the best option is to pump breast milk exclusively and feed their bub via a bottle. This might be because of latching issues, a bub that refuses to nurse, physical reasons (such as a cleft palate), when bub grows teeth or if nursing isn’t possible for the mother for whatever reason.
Essentially, a breast pump is used to produce enough milk which is either frozen for later or given directly to the bub via a bottle. This method allows other family members to feed the bub at home or out and about. Another benefit is that you’re able to tell exactly how much your bub has consumed, and you can also tell how your milk supply is going as it is measured in each bottle. If your supply starts to drop, you can take action sooner to correct the situation.
Combination or mixed feeding is where bub is either fed with breast milk (via breast and bottle) or fed breastmilk and formula. Some mummas top up their breastfeed with formula in each or some sittings, and some mummas alternate between breastfeeding and formula bottle feeds. This method might be chosen for when bub has a low weight, is born prematurely or is ill (a doctor will advise if this is needed). Other reasons could include a low milk supply, not wanting to breastfeed in public or having to return to work, where breastfeeding or pumping isn’t an option.
Combination feeding can be a good short-term option for some bubs, however long term it can encourage your breast milk to dry up if not properly managed. Being able to feed bub with a bottle means that you don’t have to be there for those bottle feeds, and you can supplement with formula when needed. Midwives, doctors and lactation consultants can advise on formula amounts.
Feeding exclusively with formula is an option that some mummas choose because of difficulties with breastfeeding, such as low milk supply, inverted or ‘flat’ nipples, latching problems, and/or delivery via c-section, which can make breastfeeding challenging in some cases. Some mummas also have medical reasons why breast feeding is difficult, such as PCOS, Hypothyroidism, breast surgery or prior radiation for breast cancer, and for some women breast feeding isn’t an option because of the medication they take. Some women decide that for their lifestyle, home situation, or personal preference, formula is the best option for their bub. Interestingly, studies have shown that there is no difference in the level of attachment between bottle-fed babies and their mothers, and breastfed babies and their mothers. While breastmilk is recommended by doctors, formula is designed to include as many nutrients as possible for a growing bub.
One of the benefits of formula feeding is that both parents can do feeds, and they can alternate night feeds. Babies tend to finish feeding quicker, in around 10-15 minutes, and as formula takes longer to process the time between feeds is usually longer as well. Quick microwavable sterilizers are available and if you’re organised, formula feeding can be fast and efficient.
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Photo credit @millie.poppins