Breast Milk or Formula?
Now is the best time to plan how you’ll feed your newborn. Numerous books about newborn care explain bottle and breastfeeding in depth. Also, your doctor or nurse-midwife may have additional information. But here are a few things to get you started:
Breast milk is the best nutrition for your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all mothers breastfeed their infants. We strongly encourage you to breastfeed for as long as is possible for you and your baby. Advantages to breastfeeding include:
- Breastfed babies have fewer allergies, respiratory and ear infections and other illnesses, and a decreased incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Breastfeeding assists your uterus to return to its normal size faster and is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.
- No formula purchase, preparation or storage is required.
- The time spent nursing a baby is considered by many women to be a special time to relax and bond with baby.
- It provides time for you to learn about your baby, and for baby to learn about you.
Allegiance Health believes so strongly in the benefits of breastfeeding that we’ve hired specially trained nurses (they’re called lactation consultants) to assist you. They’re available to answer questions now by calling (517) 788-4800 ext. 3483. They can also help you plan in advance for problems that you think you may have. Our lactation consultants will assist you in the hospital after the birth of your baby, and once you’ve gone home.
Our Stork Club also offers a breastfeeding class. Call (517) 788-4954 to sign up.
If you do plan to breastfeed, examine your nipples. They should stand up and get firm and erect with stimulation. If they are flat or inverted (sunken), ask your doctor or nurse-midwife about breast shells.
Breastfeeding at Work
If you plan to return to work at some point after delivery and continue breastfeeding, you’ll want to find out what your company’s policy is on breastfeeding. It is recommended that you nurse your baby exclusively for the first four to six weeks. Once your milk flow is well established, using manual or electric pumps at break and meal times will maintain your supply and relieve breast fullness. The milk can be stored in a refrigerator or small cooler for up to six days, or may be frozen for later use.
Many companies now provide private spaces for breastfeeding moms to nurse or pump. Electric breast pumps are available through the hospital for rental or purchase. The lactation consultants at the Family Birthing Center are available to answer questions that you have, or to meet with you about problems that you anticipate. You can reach a lactation consultant at (517) 788-4800 ext. 3483.
Even though there are many advantages to breastfeeding, formula is an acceptable method of feeding your baby. It allows other family members to feed and bond with the infant. It also provides a wonderful time for you to learn about your baby, and for your baby to learn about you.
If you choose not to breastfeed your baby, don’t be tempted to buy formula yet. It may expire before your delivery, or the brand that you buy may not be tolerated well by your baby. Do stock up on nipples and bottles.
However you feed your baby, it is important for you to feel comfortable with your decision so that feeding time becomes a special time to bond.