Considerations for planning on how to feed your baby
As a mum of three, an aunt, a Midwife and Lactation Consultant I have come across a variety of considerations faced by families when choosing how to feed their babies.
The discussions I am part of, the debates, laughter and the tears I encounter, to this day humble me and make it clear how deeply controversial this topic is.
When talking to pregnant mums and their partners, or families it becomes obvious how much heartache goes into the decision on how to feed their bundles of joy. Having seen so many women through their journey into motherhood it is clear that a “one size fits all” approach does not work.
Among any group of new mums there will be women who want to breastfeed, women who don’t want to breastfeed, women who try to breastfeed yet encounter obstacles, women who bottle-feed their babies, women who express milk for their little ones, women who have to go back to work, women who have emotional or physical trauma and might refrain from even thinking about the option to nurse their babies, women who thought they couldn’t feed their babies but then succeed, women who feel bad admitting that they ended up using formula and women who didn’t have any support or experienced judgement from others based on their decisions. The list could go on, but basically, it is clear to me that there is only one way for each family – it must be their way.
So what if we approached the topic differently? The following ideas as a may serve as a guide to finding it easier:
- What do you know about infant nutrition? Can you learn more? Do you want to learn more? Knowing why you do what you do will help you to stay on track with your plan.
Ensure you debunk myths and talk to other mums or a professional about any questions you may have.
- Before falling pregnant, how did you envisage feeding your baby? There is plenty of research showing that sometimes it is hard to let go of old ideas and take on the new.
It is good to identify if you have a picture in your mind that you are trying to live up to, or that prevents you from pushing through or restricts you from trying new things.
- How does it make you feel to envisage feeding your baby in the way that you feel is right for you and your baby?
You could choose to write that down, and note the emotions
that go with that option.
- How does your partner feel about your preferences? Quite frequently couples might have vastly different ideas on how life with a baby should be. Whether it is sleeping, parenting, feeding your child – it is useful to sit together and confirm with each other what the rough picture may look like.
In regards to feeding: If you choose to breastfeed and encounter problems it may look very tempting for your partner to suggest bottle feeding when the world breaks down at 2 am and they feel helpless when seeing you struggle.
- What about your tribe? Do you have a circle around you of people who will support you with the choices you make?
Talking about your ideas and plans with your family and friends might be a good idea, sometimes you may encounter opposition or a “I know
better” reaction, but keep in mind: you as parents are ultimately responsible for making decisions for your baby. If you feel there is a lack of knowledge and up to date expertise consider getting professional help or advice.
- Keep in mind that sometimes the solution that is right for you may not be found in a textbook, online, or on social media. Consider getting more help or advice from a few sources before making final decisions in a time of crisis. The motto I found most helpful to this day is “Never make important decisions when you are stressed.”
Yes, breastfeeding is known to be the most healthy and species specific nutrition for our offspring, it is known to be excellent for mum’s and bub’s physical and emotional health. The support you need may not mean that everyone around you needs to argue the advantages of breastfeeding. Support means making you feel accepted with your individual decisions, particularly if they are well informed.
No one cares about your baby’s development as much as you do. Your ability and commitment to love and nurture your baby should be respected: find people who support you with the kindness and respect you deserve.
Anne Endres is a Mother of three teenage daughters, Midwife of over 22 years and Lactation Consultant and is passionate about supporting women and their families on their journey into parenthood.
You can contact her via www.breastfeedinghelponline.org