All you need to know about breastfeeding
Even when modern society has popularized the use of milk formula and thousands of children have been raised using this method during more than 5 decades, breastfeeding is still a better alternative, especially on low income countries; furthermore, WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for every baby at least until the 6th month of life, regardless the country of origin, ethnicity, cultural behaviors, etc.
However this is not achievable by all people in every country, and even when the decision among breastfeeding and formula remains a very personal one; the healthiest is still breastfeeding.
Thus, if you decided to be "old fashioned" and raise your baby as humans have been doing during centuries, here you'll find valuable information for you and your baby while breastfeeding.
1. Breast milk provides all the calories your baby needs during the first six months of life; meaning that you won't need to give your baby other than breast milk to cover all the caloric requirements, unless a medical condition such as malabsorption changes it.
2. Your baby does not need water. Same as with calories, all the water your baby needs is on the milk; thus you don't need a water filled bottle until your baby becomes 6 months old; moreover, breastmilk is safer than water because of reduction of water borne infections that are particularly risky for small babies.
3. If you need to get back to work soon, there's still chance to breastfeed your baby. Your milk will remain fresh and plenty of nutrients up for 6 hours on the refrigerator and during a week or two if you freeze it. Mommies who need to get back to work and don't have the chance to take their babies with them, have always the chance to extract their milk with a breast pump (there are manual and electrical available), in order to provide enough milk to the baby's caregiver while they are at work.
4. Breastfeeding implies more frequent feeding times. Many parents think their baby is not eating enough because he/she needs to eat every two or three hours; but the fact is that mommy's milk is very easy to digest; thus your baby is able process all of it very quickly, needing to eat more frequently.
On the other hand, baby's formula is harder to process by the baby's gut, leading to a longer digestion period which is often misinterpreted, hence parents think that their baby is satiated better with formula when the real fact is that formula is more difficult to process, lasting more time inside the baby's digestive system.
5. Breastfeeding is easy, convenient and cheap; you only need to learn the proper technique and your baby will have an unlimited milk provision. Remember that suction is the stronger milk inducer, so the more the baby eats, more milk you will produce; so don't be afraid to breastfeed your little one as much as you wish, especially during the first weeks of life when babies are growing very fast and need enhanced caloric intake.
To learn more about the proper breastfeeding technique wait for our next post.