Breast, bottles or even expressing,
Whatever your choice – please no stressing!
For advice on all milk feeding and so much more,
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Breastfeeding is a skill that doesn’t necessarily come naturally and needs to be learned by both mother and baby. All women are different, breasts and nipples come in all shapes and sizes, and babies are complete individuals. Therefore every woman’s breastfeeding experience will be different from the next and while some will cope with ease, others will never feel comfortable with breastfeeding and won’t particularly enjoy it.
There is a very good book by Clare Byam-Cook called What to Expect When Breastfeeding . . . And What If You Can’t?, which is, in my view, the best and most comprehensive guide to the subject. It explains how to breastfeed and gives practical advice to help overcome all the issues that go along with it in far greater detail than I could give.
It is a shame in today’s society that formula-feeding, when used in preference to breastfeeding, is almost frowned upon – to the point of making some women feel that they are ‘bad mothers’ if they choose it rather than breastfeeding. The first formulas designed to replace breast milk were produced commercially in 1867 and were used to remove the need for the wet nurse and also to save the lives of those babies whose mothers had either died, could not produce any milk or were unable to breastfeed. Since its introduction all those years ago, formula has continued
to improve in quality and most types now even contain lipids and pro-biotics, making them more similar to breast milk than ever before. Most babies will thrive and easily accept the usual dairy formulas which are readily available, although some who suffer intolerances, allergies or gastro- oesophageal reflux will do better with one of the many specialized formulas.
It is a shame in today’s society that formula-feeding, when used in preference to breastfeeding, is almost frowned upon – to the point of making some women feel that they are ‘bad mothers’ if they choose it rather than breastfeeding. The first formulas designed to replace breast milk were produced commercially in 1867 and were used to remove the need for the wet nurse and also to save the lives of those babies whose mothers had either died, could not produce any milk or were unable to breastfeed. Since its introduction all those years ago, formula has continued to improve in quality and most types now even contain lipids and pro-biotics, making them more similar to breast milk than ever before. Most babies will thrive and easily accept the usual dairy formulas which are readily available, although some who suffer intolerances, allergies or gastro- oesophageal reflux will do better with one of the many specialized formulas.
Bottles and teats.
There are so many different makes on the market today that it must seem like a complete minefield when trying to choose which brand to use. For ease of use, my personal preferences are the MAM anti-colic bottles, which are super-easy to use and the teats closely resemble breastfeeding.
These MAM bottles can also be individually sterilized in a microwave oven, but you may prefer to use a steam sterilizer if you’re concerned about putting plastic in a microwave. They also sell glass bottles, which don’t have the ‘anti-colic’ technology but still have the wide neck and silk teats.
Undoubtedly there are some instances where specialized bottles and/ or teats may be necessary. For instance, premature babies, those with cleft palates or any that have severe feeding problems may not be able to suck efficiently from an ordinary bottle. Softer, smaller and more pliable teats may help.
Whatever bottles you choose, do always check that you are using teats with a hole size that matches your baby’s ability to suck. Nearly all teats are sold in age ranges, but many babies need a larger-holed teat sooner than the age recommendation states. If the teat is too small then it may cause the baby to gulp and suck too hard, which in turn can lead to problems with excessive wind. It is really trial and error to find which teat size suits your baby at any particular age. If you think he needs to move up a size because feeds seem to be taking longer and longer, then just try it out. You will soon be able to tell if the flow is too fast, as he may well cough, splutter or gag on the milk if too much is getting through.
Feeding and Sleep
In the early weeks most newborns will become quite sleepy after feeding and often even actually fall asleep whilst feeding. The temptation is then, to gently put baby down without rousing him in the hope he will sleep for a while. This however, very quickly can lead to the common problem of your baby becoming reliant on feeding to be able to fall asleep. I always advise to try and wake baby up after a feed, change a nappy or move to a different environment and change of temperature, such as a quick walk around outside, and then if it is actually nap time and baby is tired, settle him down to sleep without feeding him to sleep.
I always work on the basis of a 12 hour day and 12 hour night and when I talk about night feeds these are the feeds given during the 12 hours of night and I’m not referring to the daytime and bedtime feed. Basically, healthy babies that feed well during the day and from 8 to 12 weeks of age, do not need night time feeds. The general misconception these days is that babies continue to need night feeds for moths if not years on end, but this is simply not the case.
Very few animals and especially those within the mammal class, continue to feed around the clock and within a short space of time have regulated their feeding patterns to fall in line with their natural patterns and biological clock. For us mammalian humans, our digestive system and natural body clock is set to fall in line with night and day, light and dark and the sun and the moon. We are designed to take on fuel during the day and then during the hours of night and sleep, our digestive system will process, digest, empty and cleanse our system to produce the waste the next morning when we will then start the whole feeding process over again.
When babies continue to have night feeds post 12 weeks, they will soon become sleep deprived too because although they may wake, take a feed and go back to sleep – the digestive system is having to fully ‘wake-up’ to manage and process this extra fuel when the whole system should be resting and following the natural pattern of sleeping at night.
So if your baby is insisting on still waking for or demanding night feeds post 12 weeks of age, you could look into all the information I give on this subject in my book The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan which will explain how to reduce, remove and stop night feeds. Equally ‘The Plan’ will take you through the early weeks when night feeds are obviously necessary and very important for newborns, however, one rule I always stick to is that ‘I never wake a sleeping baby unless there is a medical reason to do so!’ I advise waking your baby during the day to keep up with following the daytime feed/sleep schedule, but I never wake them at night and only feed during the hours of darkness when they wake and want to be fed.
Sadly feeding problems are very common and the usual ones are:
- Difficulty in latch.
- Cracked and sore nipples.
- Crying during and or feeds.
- ‘Woodpecker’ type behaviour at the breast.
- Vomiting whole or smaller amounts of feeds.
- Complete feed refusal whether breast or bottle.
- Staying attached to the boob for hours.
- Falling asleep at feeds.
- Only taking very short, but very frequent feeds.
- Not wanting to feed in the day, but feeding better during the night.
Most of the ‘problems’ can be caused by a multitude of things, but the most common reasons are:
- Tongue-tie, either anterior or posterior.
- Lip tie, top, bottom or both.
- Inverted or flat nipples.
- Previous breast surgery.
- Nipple thrush.
- Oral thrush.
- Laryngomalcia – floppy larynx.
- Cleft palate.
- Acid reflux.
- Dietary related intolerances or allergies.
- Baby having been exposed to antibiotics.
It’s always important to try and work out ‘why’ your baby is not feeding effectively and in most cases its either your breast, body or stress levels that are blamed as very few health professionals seem to look at the baby and understand that perhaps it’s the baby that has the problem – not the mother!
Like wise, when a baby is being bottle fed and not feeding easily or seeming comfortable, most parents will try every bottle, teat or imitation breast to try to get their bottle-refusing baby to take a feed without realising there is a likely underlying cause.
What you can do
Having researched and read all the information about feeding and feeding problems that I give in both my books, through the podcasts I’ve recorded and scrolling though my Instagram , I would hope you now might have some idea of what might be causing your little one’s feeding issues.
Often, all that is needed is to work out why there is a feeding issue, which then makes it easier to address the underlying problem and bring resolution.
It might be simply ‘bad habits’ have been learned and they need to be ‘un-learned’.
It could be you nee use nipple shields to help with the latch or express some milk and feed from a bottle.
It might be your little one simply needs some extra help in learning to feed and seeing a lactation consultant might help.
A baby that is not sleeping well and is therefore overtired, will often not feed well and maybe you need to promote better sleep associations for your little one by following the advice in my book.
It’s possible that you’re little one is simply unable to feed easily due to an underlying digestive discomfort, acid reflux and or milk/food intolerance or allergy issue.
Whatever the problem, it can be changed, fixed, rectified and your baby’s feeding. Experience can turn into a positive one.
- You can read both my books.
- You can listen to the podcasts I have recorded on sleep and reflux.
- You can scrutinise my Instagram page and replay many of my ‘live’ posts and Q and A sessions.
- You can seek direct help from me through an online consultation.
There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel and you, like thousands of parents before you, can and will promote and establish positive feeding habits for your baby, toddler or child. Good Luck!