Being born is such hard work. No longer will your baby depend on your placenta for food. After such a tough battle, baby is unsurprisingly in need of healthy nutrition.
You should decide whether you will breastfeed or not whilst pregnant. It is recommended that babies should breastfeed exclusively for 6 months and thereafter start complementary feeding. However, there are some factors that may affect how successfully you can breastfeed your baby. Discuss with your care provider if you have any concerns as regards feeding your baby. Arrive at a decision you are comfortable with. Because you love your baby, you will make the best decision for him.
Should you breastfeed your baby?
Exclusive breastfeeding means that baby is fed on only breastmilk, be it directly from the breast or expressed breastmilk fed from a bottle or cup. Baby does not drink any other liquid or eat any other foods apart from medically prescribed ones, for example drugs. Exclusive breastfeeding is one of the measures that has greatly improved child survival.
Breastmilk is cheap. It does not create any waste and does not require preparation time. Breastmilk is at the right temperature for your baby if baby feeds directly from the breast, and contains all the necessary nutrients for baby until 6 months old. Additionally, breastmilk protects your baby infections. Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby.
Are there any disadvantages to breastfeeding?
The downside to breastfeeding, especially if done exclusively, is that it is time-consuming and can be tiring for you, especially if you are a first-time mum. You may need to get help with housekeeping and other chores. Involving Daddy in caring for your baby is a great idea. To beat the stress, try to find time (yes, you can) to engage in activities that you have always found pleasurable, like listening to music, reading a book or watching a favourite television programme.
Is it ok to feed your baby formula?
You may decide to feed your baby with formula. Formula is modeled very closely after breastmilk, but there is no formula that is the same as breastmilk. Babies do well on formula if well cared for, and so if you decide not to breastfeed, you are not a bad mother. There is no need to feel guilty.
If you are a first-time mum, what should you expect?
For some first time mothers, breastmilk may not start flowing immediately after delivery. It may take as long as three days. If this happens to you, do not panic. Drink a lot of fluids, eat foods that contain a lot of water. Stress will delay your milk coming in, so relaxation is important. Continue to put your baby to breast even if you do not think there is breastmilk coming. In the first day or two, most babies are not very hungry and do alright on only a few drops of breastmilk. Also, the initial milk that comes out of the breast, deep yellowish and very thick, called colostrum, is so heavy that just a few drops will sustain your baby. Do let your health caregiver know so they can keep an eye on your baby.
It is common for a new mother to experience difficulties with attachment of the baby to the breast. As the days go by, both your baby and you will learn and master the art of breastfeeding. A poor latch can result in baby spitting up a lot and experiencing abdominal discomfort. It can lead to your nipples getting sore and cracked as well. So let your midwife help you to get it right. You will soon be a pro.
However you choose to feed your little champion, aim to be the best at it. It gets easier too.