First off, I am not a lactation consultant.
This post is not about promoting breast-feeding over bottle-feeding or vice versa. Adoption, incapacity and choice can preclude the first option. This post is simply what I consider the handiest piece of personal advice I have to offer a new breast-feeding mother.
Why? Two reasons.
- Since your life will revolve around feeding your newborn every three hours, it becomes obvious that your other activities will probably have to be squeezed into the time between. This isn’t usually difficult. Eventually, however, you may wish to part ways with your beautiful baby for more than 2 hours. Or you may be in dire need of a break from a colicky or teething infant. A full night’s rest once in awhile would be heaven. Regardless of the reason, there will probably come a time when you wish that baby wasn’t solely dependent on you for sustenance.
- Up until the age of three weeks, newborns can be introduced to either breast or bottle with few transition issues (see Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg). Afterwards, there is more chance of refusal based on preference. I’ve tested this and found it to be true. Face it, one day you will wean your child from the breast. Some women wean their infants directly from breast to cup but I’ve found that babies usually go from breast to bottle to cup. When they’re not used to a bottle, this can be very difficult. Did I stress the very? At least in my case. At 7 months old, my first child took 3 days of withholding the breast, except first and last feeds, to finally get him to accept the bottle. (The reason you don’t want to withhold the breast completely is, obviously, the engorgement factor. You have to wean yourself at the same time.) Even though he was eating solids as well, this was torture on my first-time-mommy heart (he must be so thirsty!). I had an inflexible deadline though and so had to go through with it. Incidentally, he had taken the bottle fine at 2 months old. It was pumped breast milk though and I didn’t keep it up afterwards (obviously).
One thing I need to clarify. The point of this advice is to make your life easier so make sure you bottle-feed formula. Yes, you can pump. Yes, you can bottle-feed your child pumped breast milk. However, this won’t teach your child to transition from breast milk. Just one bottle of formula a week, like at church on Sundays, will get/keep baby acquainted with the different flavor. Bottle-feeding breast milk to a breast-fed baby isn’t as difficult as bottle-feeding formula to a breast-fed baby.
If you plan on only giving your baby breast milk until they transition to cow’s milk at one year old, all power to you. Some women can’t do this because they go back to work and some can’t handle the commitment (guilty!). I currently breast-feed my 8 month old daughter first thing in the morning and last thing at night, with formula supplementing her solid food during the day.
Babies react differently to different formulas. There’s about a million out there. You can avoid iron as some babies have allergies to it. It can also cause constipation but this is rarely a problem for babies that are (mostly) breastfed. Exclusively breastfed babies make do with their internal iron supplies until they’re started on solids. Perhaps someone with more experience than myself will post on formulas.
To recap my personal suggestion: Try bottle-feeding your baby formula once a week. It may just save you! It may not work for everyone, of course. Maybe weaning is supposed to be hard…