By: Kajan Doyle
Trends in infant feeding have come and gone with the generations. The formula generation of the 70’s and 80’s gave way to the “Breast is Best” revolution. But which one is right? Turns out they both are. Today’s general thinking is Fed is Best. Moms-to-be should trust their instincts and their baby when it comes to nutrition. Birth and Post-partum doulas can help you with facts and info on both, and provide tips and techniques that use feeding as a time to bond with your baby. Doula’s are also a great resource for setting up a good feeding schedule starting at baby’s birth. Here’s some helpful tips for both bottle and breastfed newborns.
Follow your baby’s cues: Rooting is the first sign your baby is hungry: pecking with their mouth (just like a chicken) looking around, open mouth and tongue thrusting are the first signs of hunger. The second sign, a full out wail, so it’s helpful to get good at recognizing #1.
Don’t Shower before feeding: Your baby recognizes your sent from birth. At feeding time they’ll recognize you and relax when taking the bottle which can help with digestion, so try to shower right after your baby has eaten.
Shed the shirt: Or at least unbutton it: Skin to skin contact aka kangaroo care has been shown to boost levels of oxytocin, aka the love hormone which helps with bonding, making feeding time all that more special. Eye contact also helps with bonding, so try to minimize distractions like visitors and television during feeding time.
Tips for Breastfed Babies:
Start Right Away: When you’re able to hold your baby after the delivery is a good time to start breast feeding. Most newborns instinctually root around for the breast and your doula can help get the baby to latch. At the beginning, your body produces small amounts of colostrum aka liquid gold, a super nutrient that helps help protect your baby from infection, provides immune support and super concentrated nutrients. Don’t worry about supply, your body will only produce a small amount of colostrum in the first 24 hours, but your baby’s stomach is also very tiny - waste not, want not.
See Then Do: Attend a breastfeeding support group in your third trimester La Leche league meetings are nationwide and seeing it in action will help you when it comes time to do it yourself.
Ask for Help: You might want to consider seeing a lactation consultant or taking a breastfeeding class before baby to understand the mechanics of breastfeeding. Once your baby arrives, most hospitals and birthing centers will have lactation consultants on hand so don’t be shy, ask for help and don’t be afraid to go back to the well for more than one consultation. Nurses on maternity wards also receive training and are available in the overnight hours, and of course many doulas are also Certified Lactation Consultants.
Tips for Bottle Fed Babies:
Keep it Clean: No matter what bottle or formula you’re using make sure to clean your bottle thoroughly after use. Expensive sterilizing products can be helpful but aren’t necessary. A good wash and a few minutes in boiling water (Medela recommends 10) is all you need to sterilize bottles before their next use.
Don’t commit: You may have your heart set on Dr. Browns feeding set but don’t throw that receipt out quite yet. Some babies are particular about the bottle they will take. (mine went through 8 different types before finally declaring she liked the Lanisoh mOmma). It’s actually the bottle nipples that babies exhibit preferences for and it should be chosen based on your baby’s needs. Breastfed babies may need a nipple that mimics their usual sucking techniques, while fast eaters may need a slow flow nipple to prevent gas and digestion problems. Have a few different bottles and nipples ready, just in case you have a picky eater on your hands.
Ready is Best: At least at 2 am when you haven’t slept… If you’re prepping your bottles yourself consider having a stash of the 2oz ready to drink formulas on hand. While more expensive than the large liquid or powdered options, they’re perfectly portioned, ready to go, and don’t require the brain power needed to properly mix powdered formula, or the time needed to reheat refrigerated liquids. Another option is a formula system. It’s like a Keurig for baby formula. Khloe Kardashian uses the Baby Breeza, in case you want to feed your baby like the rich and famous, you can get it here.
Check back next week for info on self-care for nursing moms.