The topic of whether it’s best for a mother to nurse her baby herself or to use formula is something that has created a debate and a divided opinion in society. It’s a topic that everyone has an opinion on, and some feel so strongly about what the "right" choice is, that mothers have even been approached by strangers who have shared their unwanted remarks about their decision.
If a woman decides to use formula to meet her baby’s nutritional needs, or to nurse the child, this is a personal choice, and at the end of the day, the most important thing is that their baby is being fed. That said, there are some things to know about the differences between nursing a newborn or instead choosing to bottle feed; for example, a child drinking formula typically digests much slower, cleanliness is everything, and there is no one perfect bottle. While a woman who nurses her child may find it useful to learn that the first hour after birth is the golden hour and to not be surprised if things get a little leaky.
Below are 10 things to know about nursing a baby, and 10 things to know about bottle feeding.
20 Breastfeeding: The First Hour After Birth Is The Golden Hour
If you were planning to nurse your baby then it may help to know that the earlier you start, the better, according to BabyGaga. The publication notes that lactation experts feel the best time to start nursing is within the first hour after birth. Nursing within this timeframe can release hormones which can help with bonding and allows the mother’s uterus to contract.
This will also help stimulate the milk, which will be thicker and more golden in color during this time.
19 Breastfeeding: It Can Allow Moms And Babies To Relax
If a woman is planning on nursing her baby, it’s important to know that it can actually be beneficial for her too because it helps her relax. According to Fit Pregnancy, nursing can induce sleep, and not just for the infant, the reason for this is the body releases oxytocin which has a calming effect.
Dealing with a newborn is a lot of work, and the new mom is usually sleep deprived, so in a way this an opportunity for the woman to get a little rest.
18 Breastfeeding: Don’t Be Surprised If There Is Some Leaking Involved
A lot of things happen when you become a new mom, and not all of them are good. According to Fit Pregnancy, you can expect your bosom to change quite significantly, and in addition to probably growing a few sizes, when your baby is nursing from only one side, things can look a little lopsided.
And that’s not all, it could also get a little leaky in the first few weeks. According to What To Expect, leaks happen. However, there are some things to help you make the process a little less messy, and these include wearing dark prints, not pumping, and keeping a stash of nursing pads handy.
17 Breastfeeding: You Need A Lot Of Water
If you’re feeding your baby milk from your own body, it would make sense that if a lot of fluids are going out of your body, you need to replenish these fluids; which is why drinking water is so important.
According to Mother and Baby, milk is 88% water, and with this in mind, it should come as no surprise that BabyGaga reports water is one of the most needed components to make the milk. The publication also claims that a nursing mom needs to drink eight glasses of water a day, plus have a glass of water each time she nurses.
16 Breastfeeding: Nursing Can Protect Against A Child’s Future Weight Issues
Another important thing to know about nursing is that it could help protect a child from future weight issues, and according to BabyGaga, this is because of the nutrition and bacteria that comes from feeding. The publication also notes that this could help the baby learn how to metabolize food early in life and because childhood obesity is a serious problem, moms shouldn’t discount the impact that nursing can have.
Mother and Baby also commented on the side effects for nursing mothers, one of which is how the hormones that released can cause weight loss.
15 Breastfeeding: You Still Need To Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet
During pregnancy, most women eat a healthy and balanced diet, although there may be a few cookies and ice cream snacks along the way, and this should continue after giving birth. According to Mother and Baby, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, fiber, protein, dairy, and fluids (and skimmed milk and water are especially useful for hydration).
The publication notes that it’s important to eat healthy because breastfeeding can make you hungrier and extremely tired, so this is a great way to balance that.
14 Breastfeeding: Your Milk Has A Special Scent Picked Up By Your Baby
Every mother’s milk is different, and it has a unique scent and taste to it. According to The Bump, babies that are nursed are able to pick up their mother’s scent and the taste of their milk. And Medela also comments on the scent, reporting that this smell could be comforting to the newborn and pain can even be relieved by the exposure to the smell.
The smell can change depending on a number of factors, including storage, freezing, diet, and medication.
13 Breastfeeding: The Number Of Pores The Milk Comes Out Of Varies From Mom To Mom
Not only is the smell unique for your baby, but the number of pores the milk comes out of also varies. According to The Bump, new moms should know that milk doesn’t just come out of a single hole in the nipple, instead, it comes out of many pores, and the number differs from mom-to-mom (although the common number is somewhere between 10 and 20 pores).
Fox News also notes that there are around 15 to 25 milk ducts in each breast that make milk.
12 Breastfeeding: You May Find You Don’t Always Menstruate When Feeding
Menstruating is not exactly fun, and no one welcomes the bloating and cramps each month, so perhaps it isn’t the worst to know that when nursing you don’t always menstruate. Pediatrician Jack Newman, M.D. told Fit Pregnancy that if mothers are nursing for a year, they will often not get their period for around 14 months, and the reason for this is because of the hormone prolactin.
Something to note though is you can still fall pregnant without getting your period.
11 Breastfeeding: It’s Not Meant To Be Painful, So Know Why It Is
Nursing is uncomfortable for some new moms but it’s not meant to be, and if a woman is experiencing pain, she needs to figure out what’s wrong. According to Mother and Baby, if done right, it doesn’t hurt to nurse your baby, and if it is painful, then among the most common reasons this discomfort could be positioning and placement.
Other issues could be thrush spread through the nipple, cracked and sore nipples, engorgement from overproduction of milk, and inflammation of the breast tissue.
10 Formula: You Should Speak To Your Doctor About The Best Formula
There are many different formulas on the market, and some are better for a newborn than others. Although Everyday Family notes that the majority of children will be fine with drinking the common milk-based formulas, some may react to the formula and will be better suited to a plant-based formulation.
It’s also important to consider if the child has a compromised immune system or any other issues that could be affected by powdered formulas, as they will need sterile formulas. This is why it’s best to consult a doctor first.
9 Formula: ...And The Formula Can Affect Your Baby’s Poop
Depending on what you eat, your poop can look or smell differently, and the same can be said for a baby. What a child is fed will determine the amount, smell, color, consistency and even the texture of the poop, and according to Baby Center, this can differ greatly between a child that is formula fed or breastfed.
The most notable change will be if a mother switches over from nursing to formula feeding. As for how it differs, the publication notes that some mothers report that the smell is stronger and the color is typically darker when a baby is fed formula.
8 Formula: Cleanliness Is Everything When It Comes To Bottle Feeding
It’s extremely important to, as Everyday Family reports, be a “clean freak” when it comes to feeding a child formula and this is because you don’t want to contaminate the powder with germs or debris.
But it’s not just contamination that you need to worry about, but also sterilization of bottles before first use, and then thoroughly washing them after every use. Bubs Australia also expands on this point, reporting that for some, a bottle brush is a must and a sterilization system is useful. Some women use it the first six months, others don't.
7 Formula: You May Need To Try Out Multiple Bottles To See Which One Baby Likes
There are hundreds of bottles on the market, and according to Bubs Australia, a mother needs between two to six large bottles which are BPA free. Also, not all of these bottles are equal in the eyes of your baby, and you may need to try out multiple bottles before they find one they like.
BabyGaga reports that a baby can have a preference when it comes to the bottle teats and if your child keeps refusing the bottle, then it could be time to change the shape of the teat for something that they are more comfortable with.
6 Formula: Dad And Other Family Members Can Get Involved In Feeding Time
One of the biggest pros about bottle-feeding is that it can allow other members of the family to feel included, and according to What To Expect, this is a fantastic way to let loved one's bond with the newborn.
In fact, it may even be encouraged for a person other than the mother to deal with feeding because if a woman is switching from nursing to formula, the baby may refuse the bottle because they can smell the scent of the mother’s milk, BabyGaga reports. When the mother is not present, it could be less distracting and feeding could be easier.
5 Formula:You Need A Lot More Than One Bottle, So Be Prepared
As previously mentioned, you’re going to need a lot more than a single bottle to get by, and according to Bubs Australia, you need to ensure you have enough equipment. The publication claims that you should own between two to six large bottles, but BabyCenter reports that the bottles you need can range from four to 12. This largely depends on whether you’ll be using bottles as your primary way of feeding.
The publication also suggests starting with smaller bottles for newborns and working your way up to eight or nine ounce bottles when the baby is around four months.
4 Formula: Formula-Fed Babies Digest At A Different Rate
There is a difference between feeding babies breastmilk and formula, and that difference is that the milk is digested at a different rate. According to Baby Center, although every child is different, in general, babies digest formula slower because it contains more casein, which is harder to digest than whey (which is what breastmilk contains more of).
Parents may also find that they are feeding their children less often with formula milk and babies could wake less often for food because of this (which could be a major pro for some sleep-deprived moms).
3 Formula: The Temperature Takes Some Calculating To Get Right
Feeding formula is not quite as straightforward as breastmilk because it takes some calculating to get the right temperature and there are many things that should be considered. Everyday Family reports that you do not need to heat bottles, and its easier to get a child to take the bottle at room temperature if you start by doing this.
However, if you choose to heat bottles, then there are some things to consider, like not heating in a microwave in case it leaves hot spots, and always testing the temperature on your wrist first.
2 Formula: You’ll Feel Like You Need To Explain, But Be Fearless
If you choose to bottle feed from the start, that is your choice to make and it’s a choice that you should not feel you need to justify. Everyday Family reports that this is something that a lot of people have an opinion on, and Today’s Parent pointed out that a mom was even shamed in Target by a stranger because she bought formula.
This mom became viral because she addressed her ordeal on Facebook, and it shed light on how strongly everyone feels about formula vs. nursing. But at the end of the day, all that matters is you are feeding your child.
1 Formula: Don’t Reheat Milk More Than Once…
As mentioned above, milk doesn’t need to be heated, and it’s easier to get a baby to accept the milk if you feed them at room temperature from the start. However, it’s best not to reheat milk more than once and according to SMA Baby, if you have already heated a bottle, then do not do it again because bottles should be made fresh just before feeding.
Also, remember to never heat with a microwave as this causes the center of the liquid to heat faster, and could hurt your baby when feeding.
References: BabyGaga, FitPregnancy, What To Expect, Mother and Baby, The Bump, Medela, Fox News, Everyday Family, Baby Center, Bubs Australia, BabyGaga, What To Expect, BabyGaga, Bubs Australia, BabyCenter, Today's Parent, SMA Baby.