By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
August is Breastfeeding Month. A natural bonding experience between a mother and her baby, breastfeeding can be one of the most significant things you do in the early days of your baby’s life. But it isn’t for everyone. For a variety of reasons, some parents choose to feed their baby formula instead of breast milk, or a combination of the two.
Whatever decision a mother makes for feeding her baby is a personal one and is therefore the right decision for her situation. The important thing is to understand the facts so the choice is well-informed and healthy for baby, mom, and the whole family.
Breastfeeding is nature’s way of feeding your baby. Breast milk is full of lactose, protein and fats that are easily digested by baby’s little tummy. It delivers a healthy dose of antibodies to fight viruses and bacteria with every feeding, and can even lower the risk of some illnesses including asthma, allergies, ear infections, respiratory illness and possibly diabetes, obesity and some cancers.
There are benefits for mom as well. A breastfeeding mother can burn up to 500 calories a day, which aids in losing unwanted baby weight. Breastfeeding helps shrink the uterus, which also helps mom get back to pre-baby shape. It lowers mom’s risk for breast and ovarian cancers and might help protect against osteoporosis. It’s also free, and doesn’t require equipment that can be bulky and require sterilization. And best of all, it’s a unique opportunity for mom and baby to bond.
But as natural as breastfeeding is, it doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes baby has trouble latching properly, which makes feeding challenging and can cause sore nipples. This happens especially during the first few weeks of feeding and can be relieved by holding a bag of ice or frozen peas on the area. Clogged ducts, cracked and dry nipples and mastitis are other problems that can usually addressed by a breastfeeding consultant or your doctor.
Creams specifically for sore breasts, breast pads and special breastfeeding aids are available in our pharmacy to help nursing moms. And ask the pharmacist about the best supplements for breastfeeding moms.
Contact La Leche League at 236-1120 for help as soon as you experience a problem, so breastfeeding doesn’t become frustrating or a source of stress for you and your baby.
Not all moms experience problems and the majority have an overall positive experience. If you follow a healthy diet, get as much rest as possible and drink plenty of fluids, you and your baby will enjoy this time together.
For some moms, however, breastfeeding isn’t the best option. A decision to not breastfeed can stem from a mother’s comfort level, stress, lifestyle, convenience, some medical conditions and sometimes frustration from early problems with breastfeeding. For these moms, infant formula is a healthy alternative.
Formulas are designed to be similar to breastmilk, with a combination of proteins, sugars, fats and vitamins. Formulas even contain some nutrients – such as Vitamin D – that are not found in large quantities in breastmilk. They come in a variety of types to fit parents’ and baby’s needs.
Feeding by formula allows for the father and others to participate in feeding. Formula is not digested as easily as breast milk, so feedings are not required as frequently. And feedings with a bottle can still be a special bonding moment between mom and baby.
Whatever your choice for feeding your baby, cherish the time. Those quiet moments while feeding – even in the middle of the night – will pass before you know it. Take the time to quietly snuggle your little one and know you are giving them a great start.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.