Benefits of Breastfeeding
How are you going to feed your baby? Formula or breastfeeding? Or perhaps a mixture of the two. Many people feel strongly about how their baby is fed, whilst others give it little thought. I breastfed all four of my children (including twins) and really enjoyed it. Whilst I would encourage everyone to think about the benefits of breastfeeding, I don't think people should be made to feel guilty if they decide breastfeeding is not for them.
Advantages of Breastfeeding
There are many advantages to breastfeeding: it's cheap and convenient (no sterilising or bottles), it helps the mother lose weight, there are many health benefits (including the baby being less likely to be obese, both as a baby and later in life) and there is no doubt that babies do love the boob! (Or booby juice as my toddler calls it.)
• Health benefits for mother and baby
• Bonding experience
• Comforting for baby (and mother)
Disadvantages of breastfeeding
On the other hand, it makes it more difficult if you want someone else to feed the baby (although it is possible to express) and it can be tricky to establish. If you are having problems establishing feeding, there is lots of help available.
• You have to express if you want someone else to look after your baby
• May have problems establishing
• May have other problems
Get Breastfeeding Support
Many people struggle with breastfeeding and give up when it gets too difficult. If you’re finding it tough, reach out and get help. It’s much much easier if you have a good group of friends to support you and help you through the rough times.
• Talk to your midwife
• Find a lactation specialist
• Groups such as La Leche League, NCT and Parents in Partnership
• Online forums and FaceBook Pages
• Find a group of friends and meet in a sympathetic cafe every week.
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What if I have problems breastfeeding early on?
Can I continue breastfeeding if I have to stop for a while?
If in the early days there is concern that your baby is not getting enough feed and is becoming dehydrated, it isn't the end of the world if you are advised to give some formula. It is still possible to continue to breastfeed. My first son spent 4 nights in hospital, including 2 in the special care baby unit where he was given formula in a tube and fluids in his arm. We still managed to establish breastfeeding and after that he was exclusively breast fed.
It's even possible to continue breastfeeding if you have to stop breastfeeding altogether for a while. My sister had really bad mastitis and was advised to stop but she gradually built back up until she was only breastfeeding again. It takes time but it is possible.
Do bottle or breastfed babies sleep better?
It is said that bottle fed babies sleep better through the night as the formula stays for longer in the stomach. I have never seen any written evidence of this. I know of breastfed babies who are fabulous sleepers and formula fed babies who aren't. Personally I think sleep is one of those random thing to which there is no rhyme nor reason. Count yourself lucky if you have a baby who sleeps well!
When can I give my baby cow's milk?
It is important to remember that babies under the age of one should not be given cows' milk to drink. They should have either breast milk or formula. (This is the reason I fed my son until he was one.)
The benefits of breastfeeding make all those difficult bits worth while. It’s such a beautiful and natural expression of your love for your baby.
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