Breastfeeding is not for everyone!
Yes you heard me right. A Midwife saying breastfeeding is not for everyone.
Some women cannot breastfeed due to medical conditions or medications, some women make an informed choice not to and some women simply just do not want to.
Whichever category you fall into you will still be supported to help you feed your baby to enable them to thrive and grow. As well as help you survive the sleepless nights, explain cluster feeding and making sure feeds are made up safely following the latest guidelines.
If you choose to formula feed your baby that does not mean we, as Midwives, will just leave you to get on with it. You still need help and support, you will still have a ton of questions to answer like; how much to feed, how to safely sterilise equipment, how long should you let baby go between each feed and what's the best way to wind (burp) the baby, and we are here to help you answer those questions. Hopefully this blog will give you a place to start.
WHY IS SKIN TO SKIN CONTACT IMPORTANT?
If you have chosen to bottle feed straight from birth then it is still strongly encouraged that you have skin to skin with your baby. This helps with the bonding between parent and child and will make your baby feel loved and secure as well as maintaining their temperature, breathing and heart rate.
For you and your baby it is encouraged to give your baby their first feed while skin to skin. It is THE best way to welcome your baby into the world. It helps to calm and relax baby and mum, its stimulates their digestion and an eagerness to feed. Helps regulate their temperature, and stimulates the release of hormones which aids recovery.
This can continue in the days to follow to help even further with the bond with both Mum and Dad.
In the first few weeks be mindful about who feeds your baby their bottle. Ideally it should be the primary caregivers (Mum and Dad) so that baby has time to build that close loving bond.
There are many different brands on the market and it is your choice as to which you decide to use. For independent, evidence based information on each of the brands available visit www.firststepsnutrition.org/infant-milks-overview
Most infant formula is made from cow's milk which has been treated to make it safe to give to babies. Ideally you should not give your baby any other type of baby milk or change brand until speaking to you Midwife, GP or health visitor.
Always ensure you give your newborn the first infant milk of whichever brand you have chosen. This can be purchased in the form of
1. ready-made formula, which comes in cartons or mini bottles which are sterile and ready to use straight away or
2. powder which is not sterile and needs to be made up following the instructions.
There are also many different types of bottles and teats to choose from, don't go and buy a lot of one type until you find the one that suits you and your baby.
Cleaning and sterilising your equipment for feeding is a MUST do to ensure your baby does not become ill from infections and stomach upsets.
There are a few methods you could choose from depending on space, cost and ease, watch the video below for some of these methods.
MAKING UP A FEED
The current guidelines for this can be found in
Unicef booklet "Guide to Bottle feeding"
it explains all about how to safely make up a bottle.
Bottles should be made up as and when required and not in advance.
WHAT ARE THE FEEDING CUES
The feeding cues of a hungry baby are the same no matter if bottle of breast feeding.
It is good to recognise them early before your baby starts crying as this will make it easier to feed them.
Cues to look out for:
· Begin to move their head around
· Start to squirm where they were previously calm and still
· Begin to open and close their mouth
· Turn their head to one side
· Bringing their hands up to their mouth
· Start to stick their tongue out
FEEDING YOUR BABY
Just because you are bottle feeding does not mean you should not enjoy it or prepare for a it.
Take this time to make eye contact with baby and keep baby close to continue to build that bond emotionally and physically.
· You should ensure you have everything to hand so once you are feeding to ensure the feed does not get interrupted (phone, drink, snack, remote control).
· Make sure you are sitting comfortably with your back well supported. Ensure baby is positioned comfortably - hold the baby fairly upright, nice and close to your body with their head supported so they can feed and swallow comfortably.
· Tease the baby's top lip with the teat and when your baby opens their mouth allow them to draw the teat in (try not to force or shove the teat in, allow baby to tell you when they are ready to start feeding).
· Every baby is different, and some will need short breaks throughout the feed to rest and bring up some wind.
· Don't rush a feed, allow your baby to pause and catch their breath between sucking. Using a slow flow teat will allow your baby to have more control over the flow of milk.
· Take your cues from your baby, don't force them to take more if they have had enough.
· Keep the teat full of milk otherwise baby is just taking in air.
· NEVER leave your baby alone with a bottle as there is a risk they may choke.
· Any formula left in the bottle after a feed should be thrown away.
· Formula that has been made up but not used and left at room temperature should be thrown away after 2 hours.
· Once the carton of ready-made carton of formula is opened - if there is still some unused formula left in the carton this can be kept in the fridge on the top shelf for up to 24 hours.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU FEED YOUR BABY?
Most newborns will take very small amounts of formula at each feed in the first few days however this should increase as the week goes on.
A baby's intake should be monitored over 24 hours rather than at each feed. Like an adult there will be times when they are hungrier than others, and times when they go 4 hours between feeds and others when they only go 30 minutes.
Your baby should still wake to feed in the night for the first few months and I would advise not to let your baby go more than 4-5 hours without initiating a feed.
The "Guide to bottle feeding" suggests that once your baby is a week old they should be taking 150 -200mls per kilogram of weight per day.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR BABY IS GETTING ENOUGH?
· Your baby will be passing good amounts of urine
· Your baby will be passing stools and in the first few days they will start to change colour from thick, sticky, dark stool to yellow, watery, 'explosive' stools (and a few colours in between)
· Your baby will gain weight (although in the first 5-6 days it is very normal for them to lose up to 10% of their birth weight, but from then should continue in to increase).
If you have any concerns about your baby and their feeding you must seek advice from a health professional (Midwife, GP or Health Visitor)