Breast vs bottle

The debate between these feeding methods goes on…know the pros, cons and in-betweens as you prepare for your baby’s arrival

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Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding benefits:

  • Boosts immunity: Your baby receives your antibodies to help fight infection
  • Better digestion: Breastfed babies suffer less constipation, diarrhoea and wind
  • Reduces your risk of breast and ovarian cancer
  • Helps shed those pregnancy pounds
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Breastfeeding drawbacks:

  • Sole responsibility: Only mum is able to feed baby, which is tiring and can make dad feel left out
  • Returning to work: You must be able to pump and bottle milk ahead of time

Getting started:

  • Milk production: The time it takes for your milk to ‘come in’ varies from mum to mum. On average it begins about 30 hours after delivery, though mature milk production may not be evident for 2 to 5 days. Starter milk or colostrum has 3 times the protein of mature milk and is just right for meeting your baby’s needs during those first few days.
  • Positioning: Optimal positioning is key for both you and baby but no one position will work for all.

Cross cradle position: Hold your baby on your lap with a pillow for support. Create a ‘U’ hold with one hand around your breast and, with the other hand, cradle your baby’s neck. Be sure his mouth his wide open, and then push with the palm of your hand between his shoulders so that he latches on.

Cradle position: Cradle your baby across your lap so he’s lying resting on his side with his mouth at your nipple. Support your breast with a ‘C’ or ‘U’ hold and be sure to support your baby’s head with your forearm. Your baby’s head and bum should be level with each other.

Side-lying position: Both mum and baby lie on their sides facing each other with pillows for comfort and support. Cradle your baby in your arm and with his back along your forearm. He will get milk more easily if his hips, ear and shoulder are in a straight line.

Problems you may encounter:

  • Sore nipples: This can result for a variety of reasons but the leading cause is improper positioning. If it’s uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to gently remove him and try latching again.
  • Engorged breasts: This can occur early on in breastfeeding. To avoid this, make sure your milk is being removed frequently enough. A breast pump or hand-expressing may help resolve this.
  • Latching trouble: Often a positioning problem. Make sure your baby’s mouth is open wide enough by touching your nipple to his bottom lip.

Bottlefeeding

Bottlefeeding benefits:

  • Convenience: Because you can share the responsibility for feeding, the potential is there for a break.
  • Familial involvement: Dads, grandparents and friends can all take part in this bonding process
  • Measure the milk: You can monitor exactly how much your baby is drinking
  • Practice ahead of time: Make up bottles before the big day so you have a really good feel for how much formula you need and what temperature it should be

Bottlefeeding drawbacks:

  • Your baby doesn’t get the natural antibodies transmitted in breastmilk
  • Sterilising: Everything that comes into contact with the baby’s formula must be sterilised because even the tiniest trace of bacteria can make your baby ill. This can be more tedious then keeping your nipples clean
  • Expensive: Buying milk mix or pre-made formula is more expensive than breastmilk – which is free!
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Getting started:

  • Stocking up: Because of the high cost of bottlefeeding, start stocking up early, especially when you see specials on bottles, nipples and rings. A bottle brush and nipple brush are both useful for proper hygiene
  • Formula basics: Formula comes ready-to-use (most expensive), in liquid concentrate, and power dry (least expensive). Brands vary, but most have the same nutritional value. An iron fortified formula is very important. Consult your health care professional for suggestions
  • Positioning: Never prop a bottle, In addition to taking away from bonding and snuggling time; this can cause a baby to choke. Hold your baby at a 45 degree angle to decrease the amount of air he swallows. Tilt the bottle so that the nipple and the neck are always filled with formula
  • Temperature gauge: Though it’s not imperative to warm milk, it’s important that if you do, you don’t overheat it and accidently burn your baby. Never put your milk in the microwave as this can create hot pockets. Instead, use a pan of warm water or run it under the tap.

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