Mummy, baby and breastfeeding

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Dear mums of Famideal, today we want to talk to you about a purely female (and a little sensitive) topic: breastfeeding.

If you have just become a mum, if you are expecting, or are hoping to become a mum, we will try and give you as much information as possible on this subject.

Breastfeeding is a special and unique experience: if you think about it, it is a moment of great intimacy between mum and new-born. Something that happens immediately after 9 months of pregnancy, one of the first ways in which a baby comes into contact with the external world: an extremely delicate phase for a baby who still hasn’t developed the right antibodies and bacteria to protect them from external agents, but who also isn’t familiar with anything or anyone yet, apart from their mum. 

These considerations aside, maybe not all of you know that breastfeeding is beneficial for both mum and baby.

In this article however, we do not wish to give an ‘absolute’ and final opinion on which one is the better choice – breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Unfortunately, breastfeeding is not always a matter of choice: in this case, bottle feeding becomes an indispensable support. In any way, even if you freely choose to bottle feed, nobody can really question such a delicate matter, let alone guilt-trip the mum who opts for this.

What is certain is that, unless there are any objective difficulties, the general advice is that breastfeeding is preferable. Let’s try to understand why together 🙂 

  • Breast milk is the perfect food for babies, not just because it contains all the necessary nutrients a baby needs in their first few months of life, but also because it is easily digested and absorbed. 
  • The enzymes and the nutritional features of breast milk in fact are fundamental for the first months of a new-born: it is in this phase that they start developing their immune system and intestinal flora. 
  • Breast milk is perfect for your baby for another reason too: it is always ready-made and at the right temperature! No preparation, baby bottles or other procedures needed, which may waste precious time. 
  • Breastfeeding also gives a baby better protection from allergies, asthma, dermatitis, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and tummy issues such as diarrhoea, vomit or urinary infections. 
  • Scientific studies also demonstrate that, with breastfeeding, new-borns have a 36% lower risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and 52% less chance to develop celiac disease. 

Mum too can benefit from breastfeeding. 

Apart from the advantage of being able to develop a special relationship with their baby and holding them in their arms often, there are also some objective advantages for her health: 

  • First of all, a positive effect on the uterus which, thanks to the oxytocin hormone, can go back to its previous size in a shorter space of time
  • a lower risk of developing breast cancer
  • increase in bone strength, good to keep osteoporosis at bay in older age 
  • last but not least is the financial side of things. When a new baby arrives into a family, it is well known that expenses increase. Being able to breastfeed can mean less stress on family finances. 

Naturally, in order for breast milk to be really healthy, mum needs also to follow a diet that’s as balanced as possible. 

It is therefore essential to follow some guidelines, for example:

  • do not drink alcohol or smoke 
  • avoid caffeine
  • try not to eat fried or spicy food

Ideally it is best to follow a diet which contains fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and eggs, choosing simple cooking techniques and limiting the use of sauces. It is also important to be careful of any allergies or intolerances and of those foods that could cause these: one of the most frequent culprits are dairy products, which new-borns can often find difficult to digest. Other ‘risky’ items that could provoke an allergic reaction are peanuts, tomatoes, shellfish, seafood and chocolate. 

To give a complete picture of breastfeeding, it is right to also remind ourselves of some cons of this feeding method. 

From a practical point of view, the key points are the following:

  • breastfeeding can be painful for the mother, especially at the beginning 
  • feeding time can last up to an hour (a time-frame that is greatly reduced when using a bottle) 
  • breastfeeding when away from home can be complicated
  • it can cause some problem to the mother’s breast, such as fissures, blockages and mastitis (infections of the breast glad due to milk stagnation and difficulties in expressing milk) 

All these points aside, there is also another factor linked to a possible dependency developing in the baby: feeding frequency, which is difficult to regulate in the case of breastfeeding, can lead the baby to refuse a dummy and look for mummy’s breast as a natural source of comfort.

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However, as we anticipated at the beginning of this article, breastfeeding isn’t always possible. The reason why is not really important: whether this is a free choice or one made necessary because of health reasons, nobody should judge a mum who chooses to bottle feed. So don’t panic! There is a solution and there is no cause for worry.

It is maybe a cliché, but in the case of bottle feeding, the help of a good paediatrician is essential, not just to choose the right formula for your baby, but also to follow their growth step by step, making sure they are receiving all the right nutrients needed for their development. 

What do you need to bottle feed?

Some practical suggestions. Unlike breastfeeding, bottle feeding requires the use of certain support tools. Beside the choice of formula, which needs to be made with your paediatrician, you will also need a baby bottle with the appropriate teat. 

It is very important to make sure that the teat releases the formula drop by drop and not as a continuous flow (which could get airways to become blocked and cause coughing fits, for example).  Sterilizing these items after each use is also paramount, as is keeping them in a clean place before the next feed. It is therefore very important to take extra care in the preparation, cleaning and sterilising phase of feeding before the time comes for the next feed. The advantage of bottle feeding is that, this way, your baby will take less time than with breastfeeding.  

Sadly though, as you will need to purchase extra items such as formula, baby bottle and steriliser too, bottle feeding is not as cheap as breastfeeding. It does however have another huge advantage: daddy can do it too! 😊

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