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If you have been following along from the beginning, you know that I have breastfed all of my babies for at least a year each. There are definitely pros and cons to this decision, but I never regret it.
Pros of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding allows you to never have to worry about packing bottles and formula. You always have food for the baby wherever you go. If your baby is crying or fussy, just whip out a boob and calm them down.
Additionally, breastfeeding can save you a ton of money during the first year of your baby's life. According to The Simple Dollar, on average formula feeding can cost around $1,733.75 for a year whereas breastfeeding is free other than possibly purchasing a breast pump and a nursing cover. More on that later.
Health-wise, there are also great benefits to breastfeeding. The baby gets food that is perfectly formulated to meet their needs. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria.
Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea.
It is believed that breastfeeding may lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of your baby's life. Breast milk can even help your child remain healthy as they get older. Its can reduce their risk of being overweight, and of developing asthma, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, and lymphoma.
Breastfeeding is good for you, too. Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and ovarian cancer. So feeding your baby can help you stay healthy for the rest of your life too. How awesome is that?!
Lastly, and most importantly, breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your baby. Breastfeeding 8 to 12 times a day, especially in those early days, gives you a lot of quality time with your baby.
Cons of Breastfeeding
On the other hand, there are definitely cons to breastfeeding. First off it can be painful. This can be minimized by learning out to help your baby get a good latch, but even with that, the first few weeks can be rough on your nipples.
Additionally, breastfeeding means either you are doing all the feedings or your are finding time in your schedule to pump. This can be hard for moms to fit into their busy schedules although there are now breast pumps that make this far less awkward than in the past.
Formula feeding means even from day 1 you can split up feeding duties so you are not the one always waking up at night. Anyone can feed formula to the baby.
You can eat and drink what you want when you want. When you are breastfeeding you have to limit or time when you have alcohol and certain foods may be restricted based on the baby's sensitivities. This is not a concern for formula fed babies.
Scheduling feedings can be easier for formula fed babies. Formula isn't digested as quickly as breast milk, so formula-fed babies don't need to eat as often, especially in the first few months when breastfeeding moms are doing 8-12 feedings a day.
Personally, I have found that the benefits of breastfeeding far outweighs the drawbacks. Therefore, I have breastfed my first 2 babies and I am currently breast feeding #3. Below are some tips to help make it a little easier.
I know with a fussy baby you just want to get the boob in there and the baby fed, but this can do more harm than good. You can really hurt your boobs that way as you may end up with an incorrect latch. Instead take your time. Wait till your baby opens their mouth wide and then stuff as much of your nipple as possible in there. You want as much of your nipple in there as possible to efficiently release the milk and minimize pain.
During the first few days of engorgement, your boobs are like rocks. This will make it really difficult to get a good amount of your nipple into the baby's mouth. Before actually starting the feed, massage your boob a bit to soften it. You may also want to hand express a little milk to make it easier to get the nipple into that tiny mouth.
Engorgement can also be painful for the mama, so here are some things you can do to relieve the pain:
- wake your baby and offer a breastfeed day or night if your breasts become full and uncomfortable between feeds
- apply warm compresses to the breast, or have a warm shower before a feed, for comfort and to help the milk flow
- make sure that your bra is not too tight
- hand-express a little milk before feeding your baby, or try ‘reverse pressure softening’ (applying pressure around the nipples to push fluid back into the breasts)
- gently massage the breast in a downward motion from the chest wall toward the nipple while your baby is feeding
- use cold compresses after breastfeeding your baby. Some moms put a chilled washed cabbage leaf over their breast to reduce engorgement.
- express milk after a feed, either by hand or with a breast pump, if your breasts still feel full.
In order to keep track of feedings and diapers, I use the Sprout Baby app. this is a great app for keeping track of all the important info for your baby including doctor appointments, growth measurements, and milestones. You can even get a PDF of all the milestones and pictures you put into the app. It's a great way to make a baby book for your little one.
As far as breastfeeding, it can track how long each feeding was, when it started and which boob you started on. Super helpful for breastfeeding moms. You can also track how much you pump and bottle feedings so the app can keep track of how much milk you have stored.
Some moms are super comfortable whipping out a boob and feeding in public, others not so much. At home, I just whip out a boob and feed when I need to feed. in public, I prefer a cover.
I still use a cover I got when I had Tyler from udder covers. Its a lightweight fabric that can easily be rolled up and thrown in the diaper bag. it has a loop to go around your neck and then fabric to cover your feeding baby. I like that its not too hot for feeding by the pool in summer.
You can get one yourself for FREE, just head on over to Udder Covers and use the code PJBABY.
Pumping can be a hassle for most breastfeeding moms. The pumps are super awkward and with two bottles sticking out from your chest, it can be hard to find a convenient time to pump, especially if you work or have other kids.
I found the Freemie pump on Amazon which can help with this problem. This pump uses cups that fit into your bra to collect the milk. Therefore you don't have to have two bottles sticking out and you can pump with your shirt on.
You can either buy the entire Freemie pump or just buy the cups which are compatible with a variety of pumps. If it is not directly compatible with your pump, you may be able to purchase an adapter to use it with your existing pump. This can help make pumping far less awkward. You could even pump on your commute.
Do you have breastfeeding tricks? Share them in the comments below!