How you feed your baby is one of the first decisions you make, often before your little one is even born. Sometimes you decide to breastfeed, then realize its not for you. Do you continue breastfeeding, even though it makes you uncomfortable, or do you go ahead and switch to formula? Or you may have decided to bottle feed, but the first time your baby roots at your breast you immediately change your mind and offer the breast. Whatever you decide, its the right choice for your family.
Some of the things you need to take into consideration when deciding how to feed your baby are whether you are comfortable with the thought of having a little person sucking on your breast, and if you are comfortable pumping your own milk for the baby to drink while you are at work (if you work outside the home). Other things that should be taken into consideration are whether you will feel comfortable breastfeeding in public, your health and the baby’s health.
Some women are repulsed by the thought of breastfeeding. They may find the thought of having an infant on their breast disgusting, or they may simply be insecure. If you are one of these women, you may still provide your baby with breast milk. You’ll just need a breast pump and bottles, similar to the working mom below.
You may wish to breastfeed but believe it is not possible because you also need to work. This is completely wrong! You can breastfeed and work outside the home too! You will need some bottles, nipples, liners (if you use the kind that requires them), a breast pump, and a way to store your pumped milk. I know this sounds like a long list, but if you created a baby registry or had a baby shower, I’m sure you have plenty of bottles and nipples to start out. You may have even been lucky enough for someone to get you a breast pump or a milk storage system if you mentioned a desire to breastfeed to a friend, coworker, or family member. Even if you did not receive a pump as a gift, you may still receive one free through your WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program. Some states, Oklahoma for example, will provide a breastfeeding mother with a pump after 1 month if she tells the WIC worker or nurse that she is planning on going back to work. If your state doesn’t provide a pump, or you do not qualify for WIC, don’t worry, you can still find one that is rather inexpensive. Wal-Mart and other mass merchandisers carry several good breast pumps. Once you have a breast pump, it is rather easy to get started pumping and storing your milk for your baby. It may take a little time to get used to the difference between your baby and the pump, but just remember it’s all for the best for your baby.
Many first-time moms who want to breastfeed are worried about breastfeeding in public. This worry often disappears once breastfeeding is well established. Also many states have laws in place protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed, if you are worried about that. You should check into your state’s laws so you know if your state protects breastfeeding mothers.
One very good reason for a woman to NOT breastfeed is if she has severe health problems. It is recommended that a woman does not breastfeed if she is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer or has HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS). HIV and the chemotherapy drugs can be passed on to your infant through breast milk. Have you ever looked at your Tylenol or Advil bottle and noticed the warning for pregnant or lactating women? This is because there are alot of things that can be passed on to your infant through your milk, not just HIV or chemotherapy drugs. Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs can also pass through your milk; because of this, many moms with health problems that require regular medication (such as high blood pressure) choose to formula-feed.
Sometimes the reason to not breast feed isn’t the mother’s choice; the baby may have a problem with breast milk. There are several problems, such as allergies or an underdeveloped digestive tract, that require a baby to have a special formula. Cases such as these may cause the mother to feel bad for not being able to breast feed, but the mother needs to realize that it’s not her fault, she didn’t cause the problem interfering with breast feeding.