The experience of breastfeeding is special for mother and baby on many levels. The benefits include strengthening the bond between mother & baby, numerous health benefits for mother and baby, and cost savings. But, breastfeeding can also be a challenge for many mothers and their babies.
What to expect from breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a learned skill that can be difficult to master at times. It can be both frustrating and tiring. Infants are born knowing instinctively how to suck, but they need varying amounts of time to learn how to breastfeed.
Many studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk certain of certain conditions. Breastfed babies tend to have fewer ear infections and fewer episodes of diarrhea; there is also evidence that breastfeeding lowers the risk of lower respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, and type 2 Diabetes. Breastfeeding may also lower the risk of childhood leukemia, type 1 Diabetes, and possibly eczema. Breastmilk is often easier to digest (the proteins are different than those in formula).
There is also evidence that breastfeeding can benefit a child’s development. For these many reasons that The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as solid foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.
Breastfeeding may also help Mothers return to their pre-pregnancy bodies faster. There is also some evidence that breastfeeding can protect mothers against certain types of cancer.
It is obvious that breastfeeding is beneficial to mothers and babies in numerous ways. Yet it is not always easy. We strive to support breastfeeding, but also realize that it always possible for every baby to be 100% breastfed.
Breastfeeding support at Longwood Pediatrics
Our experienced lactation consultant Tamar Winter BSN, RN, IBCLC sees patients individually in our office and at home. She can be accessed at https://tamarwinterlc.com.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. However, for many families that is not always an option. Luckily, there are many different baby formulas to help ensure proper nutrition & development. As always, if you have any questions about breastfeeding or formula choice, just pick up the phone and call us.
The first formula to try for most babies is a cow’s milk based formula. The proteins in these formulas have been altered to make it easier for the babies to digest them; regular cow’s milk is not recommended until after 12months of age. More milk sugar (lactose) is added to more closely resemble breast milk, and the fat (butterfat) is removed and replaced with vegetable oils and other fats to allow for easier digestion and better infant growth. These formulas are also fortified with iron, which has led to a drastic reduction in the rates of iron-deficiency anemia; low-iron formulas should not be used as they do not adequately support normal growth & development.
Soy formulas are another option if your child has a mild problem digesting cow’s milk based formula. The main difference is the protein (soy) and carbohydrate (either glucose or sucrose). These may be recommended if we suspect that your baby has a hard time digesting the proteins in cow’s milk based formulas.
There are many different brands of formulas and we do not endorse a single brand or manufacturer.
If your infant has difficulty with a cow’s milk based formula (such as excessive fussiness after feeds, excessive gas, or discomfort when spitting up), you might consider a partially hydrolyzed formula (e.g. Gentle Ease or Good Start). Another term used to describe these is ‘pre-digested’, which means that the protein in the formulas has already been broken down into smaller sizes making it easier for the proteins to cross the intestinal wall and thus causing less gas/discomfort with absorption. There is an added cost with these types of formulas and not every baby needs them, so if you are not sure call us!
If the partially hydrolyzed (pre-digested) formulas are not effective in making your infant more comfortable, then more extensively hydrolyzed formulas (e.g. Nutramigen or Alimentum) may be recommended. These formulas are extensively hydrolyzed, hypoallergenic (less likely to cause allergic reactions) and used for babies with certain conditions like allergic colitis (blood in their stool). These formulas may also be recommended for some babies who have Gastroesophageal Reflux.
As a final option, Neocate is a non-allergenic amino-acid based formula that is the most hypoallergenic formula. It is recommended when either Nutramigen or Alimentum trigger an allergic reaction.
As always, we are available to answer any questions you may have about choosing the right formula for your infant!