Your baby will be hungry a few hours after delivery. For several months from then, Your Child will rely on you to get all the nutrients to grow and develop.
Breastmilk or formula?
Doctors and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that Your Child should be exclusively breastfed in the first 6 months. Under some circumstances, baby formula is a good alternative.
Generally, the mother’s lifestyle and comfort determine if she’ll breastfeed or bottle-feed her baby. But in some rare situations, breastfeeding may be medically contraindicated for the mother and her child.
There are many benefits of breastfeeding your baby. Most importantly, breast milk is the best food for a newborn’s delicate gut because it contains nutrients, such as lactose, protein (whey and casein), and fat, which are easily digested. Although commercial formulas try to replicate breast milk, they cannot match the exact composition and complexity.
In addition, breast milk contains antibodies, which protect infants from different infectious diseases, such as diarrhea and respiratory infections. Breastfeeding decreases the chances of developing medical conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, allergies, and lower the risk of becoming overweight or obese later in life.
Furthermore, breastfeeding can help you burn calories so that you can regain your shape faster. And it may protect against breast and ovarian cancer.
Limitations of breastfeeding
Breast milk digests faster, so breastfed babies may eat more often than formula-fed babies. You might need to feed Your Child as often as every 2 or 3 hours in the first few weeks. But not too long after, your little one will feed less often and sleep longer at night.
There are situations where a mother may not be able to breastfeed due to health reasons. For instance, a mother who is infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS) or undergoing chemotherapy cannot breastfeed.
What to do if you can’t breastfeed?
You may not be able to breastfeed if: you have a medical condition, take any medication regularly, or if you get sick. In any of these situations, discuss with your doctor about the possibility of breastfeeding. In case you have to temporarily stop breastfeeding, regularly use a breast pump to maintain milk production.
In situations where it’s not possible to breastfeed, moms should talk with their pediatricians about pumping and storing breast milk. Sometimes, breast milk may be given through a feeding tube or bottle if the baby cannot suck.
Formula is a good alternative to breast milk. Formula can be digested more slowly than breast milk, so a baby who is getting formula may not feed as often as a breastfed baby. You should know that babies have different tastes: while some prefer formula made from goat milk, others enjoy cow milk better.
Limitations of formula feeding
Although formula can be quite expensive, it’s important to have enough formula on hand. Make sure the necessary bottles are always clean and ready.
Here are a few guidelines for formula feeding:
- Use only bottled drinking water or water that has been filtered and boiled
- Carefully follow the directions on the label when preparing formula
- Bottles left out of the refrigerator for longer than 1 hour should be sterilized before use
- Any formula left in the bottle after feeding should be discarded
- You can store prepared bottles of formula in the refrigerator up to 24 hours and carefully warm the one you’re about to use just before feeding
- Most babies prefer a warm bottle although you don’t have to use a warm formula.
- You can warm a bottle of formula by holding it in running warm water or placing it in a pan of warm water — If you have boiling water, wait for it to cool and first test it to be sure it’s not too hot for your baby
Never warm a bottle of formula (or breast milk) in a microwave. The uneven heating can burn a Your Child’s mouth.
When to stop?
Following the introduction of solid foods after 6 months, continue breastfeeding or formula feeding till the first birthday and even beyond. Some moms even choose to breastfeed as a supplement until the baby enters school and there is nothing unnatural about that.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat (OB-GYN) (5 January 2019)