Breastfeeding, Formula-Feeding & Breast-Pumping Tips For New Mothers
Role of breastmilk
Motherhood is a wonderful journey of life. Breastmilk is rightly called ‘liquid gold’ and is the elixir of life. Breastmilk contains all the essential nutrients in the right proportions for a baby to thrive. Breastmilk is a living fluid and the composition of this golden fluid changes at different stages of motherhood journey in order to cater to the specific nutritional requirements of the baby. Antibodies are passed from mother to her baby through breastmilk. These antibodies help in establishment of immune power in the baby.
Cow’s milk for babies
Cow’s milk should never be given to a baby under 1 year of age. Cow’s milk caters to the nutritional requirements of calves and not to the specific nutritional requirements of human babies. Cow’s milk also contains complex proteins which cannot be digested by human babies under the age of 1 year. Consumption of cow’s milk by babies under 1 year of age can cause gastrointestinal issues and can also lead to blood in stools.
Formula milk for babies
Nowadays several infant formula brands are available in the market. Formulas are commercial preparations of processed cow’s milk which are modified for consumption by babies.
Sometimes, due to latching issues in babies or due to nipple confusion, babies refuse breastfeeding.
In that case, infant formulas or expressed milk come to the rescue.
Bottle feeding & nipple confusion
It is easier for babies to drink milk from bottles than to latch on and suck from breasts and exposure to bottle-feeding makes the babies lazy suckers. The nipples of the bottle and breasts are different and thus babies with exposure to bottles often suffer from nipple confusion. In order to avoid nipple confusion, babies should be fed with bowl and spoon by the primary caregiver in absence of mother and directly from the breasts in the presence of the mother.
Some mothers also opt to formula feed their babies due to low milk supply or because they have to rejoin work. Many mothers choose to breastfeed their baby along with one or two supplementary formula feeds in a day.
While buying formula from market, it should be checked that the seal has not been tampered with.
The manufacturing and expiration date of the infant formula should be checked.
After opening the formula packet, the contents should immediately be transferred to an air-tight BPA-free container.
Formula should be consumed within 21 days of opening the pack or as indicated in the packet and any un-used formula should strictly be discarded.
Formula should be prepared according to the age-appropriate guidelines mentioned in the pack.
Formula should never be diluted to make more servings. This can prove to be harmful for baby’s development.
Breastmilk and formula should never be mixed together.
Benefits of exclusive breastfeeding
Although there are several added nutrients in formulas, breastmilk is said to be the best form of nutrition for a baby. Formula is the second best and is the closest to breast milk. Under no circumstances should babies be fed any other form of milk. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for babies under 6 months of age and breastfeeding with complimentary solids feeds for babies from 6 months onwards. Foods are said to be for experimentation and fun for babies under 12 months of age. Primary source of nutrition for babies under 12 months of age should be either breastmilk or formula. It is recommended to continue breastfeeding till 2 years or more. After the age of 1 year till baby’s second birthday, 50% nutrition should come from breastmilk and remaining 50% from the solid foods offered.
Solids preparation guidelines using breastmilk/ formula milk
It is interesting to note that although cow’s milk cannot be used for babies under 1 year of age, kheer can be offered to babies under 1 year using either breastmilk or formula milk. However, breastmilk or formula milk should never be cooked. Thick kheer can be cooked using water and when the kheer returns to room temperature, breastmilk or formula milk can be added to it.
Offering water to babies
Breastmilk itself contains about 87% water and thus ideally, no water needs to be offered to babies under 6 months of age for exclusively breastfed babies. Even in very hot summers, number of breastfeeding sessions should be increased in order to cater to the increased hydration requirements. 1-2 spoons of boiled and cooled water can be offered to babies from 6 months onwards. From the age of 1 year, babies can directly be given RO filtered water.
Breastfeeding vs formula feeding
Several researches have indicated to the fact that breastfed babies surpass formula fed babies by a few IQ points. Formula-feeding has been linked to obesity and development of diabetes and cancers in the long run.
Breastfeeding also offers some benefits to mothers. Breastfeeding protects mothers from breast and uterine cancers. Also breastfeeding burns about 300-500 extra calories a day, making it easier for breastfeeding mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy shape.
Expression of milk through breast pumps
Some working mothers, in order to give the best form of nutrition to their babies, prefer to express their milk. For them, breast pumps are a saviour.
Breast-pumping also enables mothers to multi-task.
Not only for working mothers, breast pumps also come to the rescue of those mothers whose babies suffer from latching issues.
Several types of breast pumps are available in the market namely:-
- Manual breast pumps,
- Single electric breast pumps,
- Double electric breast pumps
Manual vs electric breast pumps
Manual breast pumps require a lot of manual pumping effort which can be cumbersome for the pumping mother. Electric pumps save the hassle of manual pumping effort. Manual pumps are meant for occasional use but for frequent use, electric pumps are recommended. Electric ones pump out milk from either breast one at a time. On the other hand, double electric breast pumps operate simultaneously to empty out both breasts in a significantly shorter span of time.
Storage of expressed breastmilk
Expressed breastmilk can be safely stored in storage bottles or disposable storage bags for up to 4 hours in room temperature, up to 4 days in the refrigerator and about 6 months in the freezer.
Warming expressed breastmilk
Refrigerated milk can be brought to room temperature and frozen milk can be thawed with the help of bottle warmers. Milk for babies should never be heated using microwave ovens. This is because microwave ovens do not distribute the heat evenly which can result in “hot spots” that can burn a baby’s mouth.
Working mothers & breast pumps
Modern breast pumps are portable and come with charging options. Working mothers can conveniently carry the breast pumps in their handbags. Generally lactation rooms are offered to nursing mothers in their work places with facility of refrigerator. Working mothers can safely express their milk about 3-4 times after gap of every 2-3 hours in the comfort of these lactation rooms in their workplaces and store the expressed milk in the refrigerator. While coming back home, they can conveniently carry this expressed milk home in well-insulated cooler bags.
Formula-feeding requires additional accessories like bottles or bowls and spoons. Breast pumps requires even greater number of accessories in the form of several pumping parts.
Sterilization of these parts needs to be strictly followed. Sterilization can be done either in the traditional way by dipping the parts in a container of boiling water. Sterilizers are also readily available in the market to carry out this sterilization process with the help of steam cycles. Sterilization removes the germs present in these parts and makes it ready for usage by mother and baby.
Keep all these points in mind and enjoy the gift of motherhood. Happy Parenting!!
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Nasrin Zaman is a software engineer by profession. She likes travelling to various places and enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature. She also loves photography and reading various kinds of books in her leisure time. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.