Breast or Bottle – what is the best tool for the job?
Pigeon Breast Pump Electronic
Breast Milk can be fed via bottle or breast
Do you or do you not breastfeeding your newborn baby? This is just one of those many ‘tough’ decisions that you are going to have to make, during your journey of parenthood. There are many different opinions on this matter, but at the end of the day it is all about what you want to do at the mother of your child. No father, mother or mother-in-law can make this decision for you. This is one topic that your decision overrides everyone else’s suggestions.
Many new mothers want only the best for their new born baby and as we know ‘Breast is best’ OR should they rephrase the statement to say ‘Breast milk is best!’?
I was never told about expressing my milk when I had my first child. I felt like a 24/7 dairy farm and I was exhausted, as well as depressed. I felt pressured to continue with breastfeeding my son, even though my head was telling me that I was a fool. Eventually after 4 weeks the dairy farm closed and I put my son onto formula.
So when I fell pregnant with my second child, I became equally focussed on making breastfeeding a success. I followed all of the tips to getting your breasts ready for nursing and I was convinced that I was ready. Only to discover that after 5 weeks of painful breastfeeding, my beautiful baby boy had bitten off more than half of my nipple (also known as server nipple damage). I decided then and there that there must be another way of tackling this without having to put my body through this pain and frustration. I decided to express my milk and this way my son gets all the nutrients he needs while I kept what was left of my nipples.
I was not told that I could express my breast milk and if I had known this, it would have been a life-changer. What really got to me, was that fact that I had gone to Lactation Specialists and consulted with two paediatricians about the troubles that I was experiencing and they told me to change to formula. This was when I discovered that only you are capable of finding the perfect solution for you and your baby.
The fact is, is that breast milk is definitely the best solution for your baby because it contains all the vitamins, proteins and nutrients that your baby needs to build up their immune system. Breast milk is also filled with antibodies which helps to fight off illnesses and disease. If you are able to provide your baby with breast milk for about 6 months (not substituting it with formula), doctors have indicated that this reduces your baby’s chance of getting ear infections, respiratory illness and diarrhoea.
How long should you give your baby breast milk for? It is recommended that your baby get breast milk for about 6 months, but please remember that this is also completely up to you. The reason that the duration of 6 months is recommended is because doctors feel that this provides your baby with enough time to fully develop the baby’s immune system and from 6 months old, you are able to start introducing soft foods (baby purities) to your baby. So you will start replacing your breast milk with other healthy foods to continue the building of your baby’s body and mind.
When you express your breast milk, you are also able to give your partner the opportunity to also feed your baby, whereas if you were only to breastfeed then you would be the only one who enjoys the bonding moments with your baby. Developing that parental bond and giving your baby security while feeding is precious and this can be done without breastfeeding. Skin on skin contact when feeding is also achieved when you bottle feed your baby, so that closeness will also be there. Holding and loving your baby does not need to be painful or uncomfortable.
What is Expressing?
Expressing breast milk is very much like milking a cow; you can purchase a breast pump (there are many options available on the market – from electrical to manual, depending on your budget) or you can express using your own hands.
Expressing your milk with also help relieve engorged breasts which is when your breasts become swollen and painful; and this can last from several days to two weeks. Having engorged breasts is quite normal, but the trick is to address it immediately and not just leave it.
How to treat your engorged breasts:
Sometimes old wives tales do actually work. I was told you put cabbage leaves in my bra and believe it or not, it actually did relieve the pain and swelling. It did not resolve the whole problem, but it definitely helped a little.
- Apply a warm press to the swollen area (not hot), this will assist in promoting the flow.
- Apply a cold press after expressing to relieve the swelling.
- Gentle massaging is also recommended as it gets the blood flowing and helps to drain the breasts.
- As your doctor about Anti-inflammatories to reduce pain and inflammation.
How to prevent Engorged Breasts:
1. Express regularly – at least 8 times in 24 hours to prevent over fullness.
How to store breast milk?
It is important to know how to correctly and safely store breast milk BEFORE you start expressing. Store your breast milk in a clean, glass or hard plastic (BPA-Free) container. You can also purchase milk storage bags from your local baby store, but they are not highly recommended because they can break/tear or become contaminated easily. I expressed direct into my baby’s feeding bottles. Whatever your choice is, make sure that the container is disinfected clean and it can seal tightly.
Make sure that your hands and breasts are clean before you start expressing.
Mark the container with the date that you have expressed your breast milk.
Place the container at the back of the refrigerator or freezer (where the temperature is at it’s coldest).
You want to correctly portion your expressed milk, for example start with between 60ml’s to 120ml’s depending on your baby’s appetite and then adjust accordingly.
Please keep in mind that breast milk expands when frozen, so do not overfill the container.
You can only add fresh breast milk to stored breast milk IF it has been expressed on the same day. Make sure that the fresh breast milk has cooled before you add it to the stored breast milk.
How long you are able to safely keep breast milk depends on how you go about storing the breast milk once expressed.
General Guidelines for healthy babies:
If your breast milk is stored at Room Temperature it can keep for up to 4 (four) to 6 (six) hours. If the weather is hot and the room temperature warmer than normal, it is recommended that the maximum time to keep breast milk at room temperature is 4 (four) hours.
Insulated Coolers is also a good way to keep your breast milk cool. If your cooler is insulated with frozen ice packs, then the breast milk can keep for up to 1 (one) day.
Keeping your breast milk in the refrigerating or deep freezer is the preferred storage method. Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored at the back of the refrigerator for up to 5 (five) days. Please make sure that the area where you are storing the breast milk is clean. Breast milk which has been stored in the back of the deep freezer, from date of expressing; can last from between 6 (six) to 12 (twelve) months. The optimal duration would be 6 (six) months as longer you keep breast milk frozen, the greater the loss of vitamin C in the breast milk.
Do not mix used breast milk with stored breast milk and never defrost and then re-freeze breast milk.
Giving your baby the best from day one is what every mother wants to give their children and it is important to know what your options are so that you can make the best decisions. No mother knows everything and that is why I have written this article not to say to you that my way is the best way - but because no one told me about my options. Nursing your baby is the most special moment that you could experience and I wish you all the best with your nursing.