Monday, September 6, 2010

So You're Going to the Bottle.....

There is a lot of press and a lot of pressure to breastfeed your baby and with good reason. You hear that cow's milk is for calves and human milk is for babies. You hear it's better for the baby and better for you. You hear it's cheaper ( it is ). You hear that you can eat to your heart's content and lose the baby weight faster(debatable ).

Ultimately, the choice is yours alone because it's up to you to use your breasts if you are going to breast feed. Sometimes it is just impossible or at best, very difficult. Maybe you have had breast reduction. Maybe you just don't want to. Maybe you tried and didn't like it. Maybe you need to take medicine that isn't safe for the baby to ingest. The important thing to remember is that you must feed your baby and it's a lot better if you are comfortable doing it. You are going to spend hours and weeks and months up-close and personal with this little critter and being comfortable while feeding translates into taking the time to cuddle and sing and getting to know each other to learn about this strange new world.

So, that being said, you don't decide which formula to use. Your provider does: the baby's doctor. Soy or cow's milk. Let the doc know about all the medications that you take since it is all transfered in the breast milk. Providers tell you how much and how often. They spend a lot of time talking to new parents about eating; don't be shy.

Your breasts will initially make milk even if you choose to bottle feed. Same goes for weaning. Wear a tight-fitting bra and keep ice on your breasts whenever you can. Some people swear by a clean green cabbage leaf tucked into the cups of the bra. Don't touch your nipples, in fact no nipple stimulation is recommended. Keep hot water away and turn your back to the shower spray. Give it about 3-4 days and use Tylenol if you have a lot of pain. There is no medicine to discontinue the production of milk. Your mom may tell you otherwise, however the medicine in question is no longer considered safe.

So, there isn't a class for bottle feeders and you know who you are out there. This is for you.

Have a plentiful supply of bottles and formula. Nipples and a bottle brush. Yes, you will come home from the hospital with small bottles but you will use those up fast and need larger sizes in larger amounts. The automatic dishwasher is fine for cleaning bottles and nipples, after they are well rinsed.

Check the can of formula before you buy it. Is it ready to feed or concentrated so you will have to measure and dilute it with water? Check the expiration date. When you are ready to use the can, clean the top with soapy water and rinse and dry it too. If it's ready to feed, it is no good after being stored in the frig for 48 hours. If it's powder ( concentrated ) store unrefrigerated and dump when it expires.

It's awfully nice for the baby to get fed warm formula. Do not heat in the microwave but rather in a pot or bowl of warm water until a few drops on your wrist feel like a tepid bath. While you are checking for temperature, you will also be checking that the nipple hole is of adequate size for your baby. The formula should drip from the tilted bottle at a rate that isn't too fast ( baby can choke ). And if the nipple hole is too small, your baby will quickly let you know she working too hard for no pay-off and be very fussy. Pitch bad nipples; they can't be fixed.

Please do not prop a bottle and leave the baby, figuring that she's eating just fine. Choking hazard!! And feeding time is when you are touching and talking and teaching.

Do not store a half consumed bottle. If baby is done, throw the rest away. Baby's saliva has the potential to contaminate the formula with bacteria that grow, even in the frig. Bottle fed babies tend to take in a lot of air while feeding ( gas ).
I believe the single biggest mistake a new parent can make is not burping enough. Be vigorous and when you are sure the baby has no more bubbles, burp one more time.

So however you do decide to feed your baby, it's your choice. No your mother's or your husband's, not your doctor's either. If you are comfortable, your baby will be too.